- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2019

ASHBURN — Redskins left tackle Trent Williams missed Washington’s first day of practice at mandatory minicamp Tuesday over a contract dispute. The seven-time Pro Bowler wants a new deal with two years left on his contract.

Williams signed a five-year, $66 million deal in 2015 — making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in football at the time. But since then, four linemen — Atlanta’s Jake Matthews, Tennessee’s Taylor Lewan, Dallas’ Zack Marin and Tyron Smith — have surpassed his contract in total value.

Williams is set to make $11 million in 2019 and $12.5 million in 2020.

“I talked to him a little while ago and Trent, it’s personal between him and his agent and the organization,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We’ll handle it accordingly. Trent knows we all want him back. I want him back in the worst way.

“I know his teammates want him back in the worst way, but at the end of the day, there is a business side to pro football and that’s what he’s about right now. So we’ll find out what happens.”

Gruden said Williams would not have practiced Tuesday, even if he was in attendance, because the left tackle is recovering from offseason surgery to remove a benign tumor on his scalp.

Without Williams, the Redskins’ depth at left tackle is significantly lacking. Throughout the spring, the team has resorted to giving Ereck Flowers, who was originally signed to play left guard, first-team reps because of his experience at the position.

Backup Geron Christian has yet to practice this spring as the 2018 third-rounder recovers from a torn MCL. Williams‘ former backup, Ty Nsekhe, signed with Buffalo in the offseason.

The Redskins, too, have remained cautious with the rest of their starters along the offensive line. Over the past two years, the line has been decimated by injuries and key pieces like guard Brandon Scherff and center Chase Roullier are recovering from surgeries.

Right tackle Morgan Moses said he wasn’t concerned about Williams missing minicamp.

“He knows the NFL, man,” Moses said. “A veteran guy like him … it’s not necessary for him to really be here. I’d rather have him in training camp and 100% throughout the season then him being here. … He’s doing what he needs to do on the other side.”

Added running back Adrian Peterson: “Whenever he’s in the building, I’m sure he’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

It is typically rare for teams to hand out new contracts to players with multiple years left on their deals.

In 2017, Rams star Aaron Donald, with two years left on his rookie deal, actually held out until Week 2 of that season — but not did receive a new contract until the following year. Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins also held out for a new deal in 2016, though returned after missing just one day of training camp. Like Donald, Hopkins had two years left on his rookie deal.

Williams, by comparison, is seeking his third NFL contract.

But it is not unheard of. The Minnesota Vikings, for instance, extended Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen in 2017 — despite both players having two years left on their deal. Aaron Rodgers’ four-year, $124 million extension with the Green Bay Packers is another example (though quarterback contracts often have different dynamics compared to other situations.)

Williams, meanwhile, has not appeared in all 16 games since 2013. He missed three games last season with a broken thumb, and in 2017, missed six games with an aggravating knee injury that eventually required surgery.

Beyond health concerns, Williams turns 31 in July — meaning the Redskins could be hesitant to give the left tackle new money.

But when healthy, Williams has performed at a top level. He has made the Pro Bowl in seven straight seasons and has the kind of athleticism rare for the position. The Redskins drafted Williams fourth overall in 2010.

“He is the best tackle in pro football,” Gruden said. “He’s a great player for us, a great leader. We would love to have him here without a doubt. I know his teammates support him and we support him without a doubt, but hopefully we get it situated where he comes back.”

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