- Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams is hitting free agency in 2021
- Williams has been a high-level player for a long time
- Former Washington star could get a big contract this offseason
A lot headlines in free agency go to the skill position players who make highlight reel catches, no margin for error throws, or sharp cuts in the backfield. It’s fun to keep track of where impact fantasy football players wind up and how that will affect their fortunes, but those splashy sequences don’t happen without players like left tackle Trent Williams doing their job first.
Trent Williams has been an impact player for a long time, ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team. The eight time Pro Bowler spent the first nine years of his career in Washington, before an unusual quarrel between Williams and the team led to the talented tackle sitting out the entire 2019 season.
This prompted a trade in April 2020 where the team shipped Williams to the San Francisco 49ers, and he had a solid year for them, ranking in the top 32 among all tackles in snaps played.
As he heads into free agency at age 32, Williams will have an interesting decision on his hands come March. He can opt for another large payday for teams desperate for offensive line help. Alternatively, he can sacrifice some money to play on a Super Bowl contender.
With these factors in mind, let’s examine a few destinations that make sense for both the player and the team.
Protect Brady in Tampa
If Williams really wants to win, there’s arguably no better win now destination than Tampa Bay.
On the other side of the line, tackle Donovan Smith has been an up and down so far in his career. He received a Pro Football Focus grade 18 points lower than Williams in the 2020, and was tied for the league lead in penalties by a tackle this season.
At worst, bringing Williams in at a reduced rate can push Smith. If he doesn’t improve, Williams can slot in reliably to protect the aging Tom Brady.
Head to Seattle
While they may not have the same pedigree that the Bucs are quickly developing in the NFC, Seattle has long been respected as an organization that will compete year in and year out.
Tampa Bay is actually projected to have more available cap space heading into free agency than Seattle will, but they will likely use a decent amount of that to try to re-sign WR Chris Godwin, who has been an integral part of their run to the Super Bowl.
Seattle is just over league average in projected funds, but could badly use an upgrade to their offensive line.
They allowed the fifth most sacks in the NFL last year. While Russell Wilson is still considered a mobile quarterback, it isn’t ideal for the franchise signal caller to be scrambling for his life as much as he was last season.
Sign in New York
If Williams really wants to have the Brinks truck backed up for him, then it might be beneficial for him to take a call from the New York Jets. New York will desperately be pushing to make amends for a disappointing 2020 campaign.
Similar to the Buccaneers, the Jets selected a tackle in the first round of last year’s draft in Mekhi Becton, who they have to be pleased with.
But the team could certainly use an upgrade over George Fant on the opposite end of the line, who is more of a depth player than a reliable full time starter. If Williams were to sign with New York, and Becton can stay healthy for his sophomore campaign, the Jets might feature one of the top tackle tandems in the NFL. The Jets are also projected to have the second most cap space, and could offer Williams a handsome contract to help cushion the blow of rebuilding.