- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

At his most frustrated, Trent Williams said he wanted nothing to do with the Washington Redskins. The seven-time Pro Bowler held out for months, unhappy about how the team handled a growth on his scalp that was later determined to be cancerous. Even when he returned midseason, Williams made it clear he still did not trust the organization.

These days, after significant changes to the Redskins’ front office and training staff, Williams is at least returning the team’s phone calls.

According to multiple reports, Williams had a “positive conversation” recently with new Redskins coach Ron Rivera, who is trying to repair the left tackle’s fractured relationship with the franchise.

But there are hurdles that have to be cleared before fans can expect to see Williams in a Redskins uniform again.

The 31-year-old has a year left on his contract, but there’s no guaranteed money left in the deal — a factor in his initial holdout, he told reporters in October. 

Williams, who did not play last season after he was put on the season-ending “non football injury” list shortly after his return, said team doctors told him for years that a growth on his head was “something minor” — only to discover later he had a rare cancer called dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP). Doctors told him the cancer was “weeks away” from metastasizing to his brain and it needed to be surgically removed.

The incident left Williams furious with the Redskins, and he later admitted to The Washington Post that he did not think the relationship could be repaired.

The Redskins, though, have made a series of moves this offseason that can be partially seen as an attempt to appease the tackle. Owner Dan Snyder fired longtime president Bruce Allen and trainer Larry Hess. The team hired former Panthers trainer Ryan Vermillion, who has been called one of the most respected trainers in the NFL.

Rivera, too, has said he wants Williams to return in 2020. At the Super Bowl, he told NBC Sports Washington that Williams is “still our guy.”

Of course, what’s said publicly and what’s said in private can be two different things.

Allen once said the Redskins had no intention of trading Williams, then explored offers right before the trade deadline in October. That further angered Williams, who saw the talks as a move meant to embarrass him. “Try to make it feel like, ‘Ain’t nobody want you; You’re not good enough for us to trade for,’” Williams said.

But Rivera’s interest in keeping Williams makes sense. Donald Penn, last year’s starter, was a serviceable replacement, but he turns 37 in April. Backup Geron Christian has not panned out since he was drafted in 2018. Williams would likely be a huge upgrade at the position, and he could protect quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Haskins even reacted Tuesday on social media to the news of Rivera and Williams’ conversation, including a “praying hands” emoji.

Still, the Redskins will have to determine if Williams is seeking a contract extension or a trade — and if they’re willing to accommodate either. The Redskins were concerned last year at giving Williams a new deal partially because they wondered how it would affect the status of linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Like Williams, Kerrigan is now entering the final year of his contract.

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