He’s back, but he’s not really back.
The strategy underscores the reality that Williams showed up for one reason and one reason only: To get credit for the current year of his contract. If the deal tolls, he’ll be under contract through 2021; if it doesn’t, he’ll be a free agent after 2020.
That becomes an important distinction if/when Washington tries to trade Williams in the offseason. If the new team gets Williams under contract for two years, it presumably would be willing to give up more than if he’s signed for only one year.
Surely, Washington won’t happily pay the balance of his $10.85 million salary, if Williams won’t actually be playing this year. And if there’s any straight-faced argument to be made by Washington that the contract tolls, Washington will make it.
At this point, Washington’s goals become simple, if Williams truly doesn’t intend to play. They’ll want to pay him as little as possible in 2019, and they’ll have to get as much as possible for him in 2020.
So, basically, this thing isn’t over. It may only be just getting started.