The ugliness continues between Washington and left tackle Trent Williams. To no surprise.
As expected, Washington has opted not to pay the balance of Williams’ base salary for 2019 ($5.1 million), following his placement on the season-ending non-football injury list. By rule, teams have the right to choose to not pay a player when the player is unable to practice and play due to an injury or illness unrelated to football. Although, as ESPN.com points out, other teams have paid players who have become unable to play due to non-football conditions, plenty of others haven’t — and the rules compel no team to pay the salary.
Although not mentioned in the report, Washington’s position quite possibly has been influenced by suspicion regarding Williams’ claim that he is suffering discomfort while wearing a helmet, due to the cancerous growth removed from his head earlier this year. If Williams had been traded to another team, would he have had discomfort when wearing a helmet?
Right or wrong, the circumstances invite speculation that gamesmanship is occurring, for both player and team. Indeed, this all could be leading to a fight regarding whether the alleged neglience of his football team’s medical staff (more on that to come soon) in failing to insist on removal of the growth earlier makes it into a football injury, given the possibility that the failure to address the issue sooner makes the end result — Williams’ current inability to wear a helmet — a football injury and not a non-football injury.
Williams has the ability to challenge the designation, but as one source explained it to PFT it’s an uphill battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting, not only because of the $5.1 million but also because the question has riding on it the last, and biggest, point of contention between player and team: Whether his contract tolls by a full year, tying him to the team not through 2020 but through 2021.
Although it’s widely believed that Williams will be traded after the current season, Washington will prefer to be able to trade him with two years remaining on his deal, since that will tend to increase the compensation the team receives. Williams will push for the contract to not toll, making him a free agent after 2020.
Thus, look for Washington to next claim that the contract has tolled by a year. Look for Williams to challenge the NFI designation, claiming both that he should get the $5.1 million and that he should be under contract through 2020 only.