The Cleveland Browns need to bulk up their offensive line, and the most obvious solution would be adding seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams via a blockbuster with the Washington Redskins.
With the Browns active in the trade market on Tuesday, shipping former second-round pick Austin Corbett to the Rams, rumors began to swirl that John Dorsey and Co. were posturing for a move to bring the disgruntled Williams to town.
Steve Doerschuk of Cantonrep.com reported that he was hearing that Williams could be on the Browns roster “soon.”
Shortly after Doerschuk’s report, ESPN’s John Keim seemingly shot down the story, saying the Redskins sources he talked to “said no to Trent Williams rumors… ‘to their knowledge.'”
Les Carpenter of the Washington Post seconded the report that the Redskins were quick to shut down the rumor.
It is assumed that it will take at least a first-round pick to pry Williams from Washington, but with his holdout extending this far, it’s possible the Redskins settle for less.
While Williams has made seven-consecutive Pro Bowls, he hasn’t played a full 16 games season since 2013. He was called for eight penalties last season after a pair of years where he was only called for three.
That being said, even at 31 years old, Williams would be a huge improvement over Greg Robinson covering Baker Mayfield’s blindside. A look at highlights from the 49ers game is an obvious sign that Robinson — the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft — can’t deal with elite pass rushers like Nick Bosa.
It could also allow the Browns to do further shuffling to shore up the unit. While some analytics point to the Browns offensive line not being so bad, a basic eye test during games shows that Mayfield has not been comfortable behind his guys in the trenches.
Mayfield has been sacked 16 times this season — the 10th most in the league — and hit 22 times as the Browns have stumbled to a 2-4 start. Mayfield leads the NFL in interceptions with 11.
Williams has not reported to the Redskins this season. Williams’ absence is reportedly based on that fact that he is upset with the organization’s medical staff. Williams had a “growth or tumor” removed from his head, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
It was also reported that the firing of head coach Jay Gruden did not spur any extra motivation for Williams to return.
According to Heavy Redskins contributor Lake Lewis Jr., there have been several Redskins players who have expressed “distrust” with the Redskins team doctors.
Browns Have had Trouble Filling Left Tackle Spot
When Joe Thomas retired prior to the 2018 season, the Browns lost a pillar of their offensive line. Thomas was a seven-time first-team All-Pro and made 10 Pro Bowls, all with the Browns.
Thomas had some high praise when asked about Williams in 2016.
“The best player at my position in the NFL today would be Trent Williams,” Browns tackle Joe Thomas said. “Being a left tackle is all about consistency and doing your job every single play, and I think he does that really well.”
Interior lineman Joel Bitonio was a Pro Bowler last year for the Browns.
Browns Deal Former Second-Round Pick Austin Corbett to Rams
The Browns dealt Corbett, the No. 33 overall pick in last year’s draft, to the Los Angeles Rams. He was slated to be the right guard of the future for the team after they dealt Kevin Zeitler to the Giants in the offseason, but he was unable to step into the role.
He could not win the starting spot in training camp, and eventually settled into the backup center position on the depth chart. Even when the Browns struggled with injuries, Corbett did not crack the lineup.
Former sixth-round journeyman Eric Kush — who the Browns signed in the offseason — has been the starter this season. The team traded for Justin McCray and Wyatt Teller before the season to build their offensive line reserves, but will likely make another move to build more depth. Backup tackle Kendall Lamm had been injured, but recently returned.