On the surface, the new contract signed by 49ers tackle Trent Williams makes him the highest-paid tackle in football. At a deeper level, it’s not as rich as advertised.
Per multiple reports, the six-year contract for the 32-year-old tackle amounts to a three-year, $60.75 million deal with a team-held option to pick up the final three years at $77.31 million. The backloading gives the first phase of the contract a $20.25 million annual average.
In three years, Williams will be 35. Likewise, the cap will have gone up, and the market will have changed. This deal gives the 49ers the ability to pay Williams $20.25 million per year for three years, and the exclusive right to pick up the final three years at $25.77 million.
By then, it could be a bargain. By then, Williams may not be the same guy he is now. By then, the 49ers may have a better option. Regardless, the 49ers secured the ability to keep Williams for three years and then to decide whether to keep him for three more.
Not coincidentally, the total amount of the deal allows Williams to average $23.01 million per year, just enough to allow his representation to claim that they negotiated the richest contract for any offensive lineman ever — even if in reality it’s simply a three-year, $20.25 million deal.