OT Williams denies shutting down Vikings trade

  • Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
  • Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns

    Covered the 49ers, Raiders and Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. She joined ESPN in 2017.

Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams is denying that he struck down a potential trade to the Vikings because he didn’t want to play in Minnesota, he told ESPN on Saturday.

“No, that’s not true,” Williams said.

However, sources confirmed to ESPN that the potential trade partners were informed at some point Friday that Williams did not want to play for the Vikings, as was first reported by NFL Network. Williams’ agent, Vince Taylor, could not be reached for comment.

A source told ESPN that the Vikings had been among the preferred destinations for Williams and that the teams had discussed a deal for more than a month. But they did not come close to anything until Friday morning, when Minnesota increased its offer to include a second Day 3 draft pick, sources said. The Vikings had previously offered one pick on the third day.

Minnesota ended up selecting an offensive tackle, Ezra Cleveland, in the second round of the draft.

With six teams drafting tackles in the first round Thursday, it’s uncertain what teams will want to trade for Williams. The San Francisco 49ers had expressed interest in Williams, but there was no deal imminent and sources said plenty of work remains. The 49ers likely will wait to know whether starting left tackle Joe Staley is retiring before making a move. The 49ers would also have to create more space on their salary cap. If the 49ers wanted to acquire Williams, because they only have picks in the last three rounds Saturday, they would likely have to use picks in the 2021 draft.

Other teams might have interest, such as the Los Angeles Rams, but lack the cap space to pull a deal off. Both the Rams (Sean McVay) and 49ers (Kyle Shanahan) have head coaches who worked with Williams in Washington.

The Redskins have maintained they don’t feel they need to trade Williams this weekend if they don’t like the offers.

Friday became the latest twist in a saga that began in June when Williams first requested to be traded or released.

Williams eventually told reporters he was upset over what he termed inadequate medical treatment involving a cancerous growth on his scalp. Sources with the Redskins said at the time — and still maintain — that it was about wanting a new contract.

At the time, Williams had two years left on his contract with no guaranteed money. He is scheduled to make $12.5 million this season.

Williams reported to Washington shortly before the trade deadline on Oct. 29. He later said he was upset the organization didn’t aggressively shop him, saying any trust with then-president Bruce Allen had been broken. In the fall, Redskins sources said they became more aggressive trying to trade Williams in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

Regardless, by reporting, Williams received credit for a season played, even though the Redskins flunked his physical and eventually placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list.

There was some hope the relationship could be repaired after the season. The Redskins fired Allen and head athletic trainer Larry Hess in December.

But Williams’ side was also upset that new coach Ron Rivera met with free agent tight end Greg Olsen in early March before he had contacted Williams. Rivera and Williams had one brief face-to-face conversation. Rivera has not wanted to extend any player contracts, including Williams’, saying he wants to get to know his players first. That philosophy also applied to veteran linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who is also entering the final year of his contract.

The Redskins gave Taylor permission to seek a trade for Williams on March 5. That would allow him to negotiate a contract with any team wanting to trade. That led to increased talks with Minnesota, which had showed the most sustained interest.

Taylor expressed frustration with the Redskins on March 24 because no deal had been reached.

“It’s time for the organization to act in a manner that is in both Williams’ and the team’s best interest,” Taylor said in a statement released to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

ESPN’s Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.

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