During the Cleveland Browns quest to fill their left tackle spot, the team was linked to disgruntled Washington Redskins All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams on multiple occasions, including in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft.
The Browns interest in Williams could be traced back to the previous regime of general manager John Dorsey and head coach Freddie Kitchens, who were both let go after the season. The Browns were in talks at the trade deadline to bring Williams to Cleveland, but the asking price reportedly elevated beyond what the Browns were willing to pay.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the value Washington wanted back rose to a first-round pick and a key player of Denzel Ward’s caliber. Ward was a Pro Bowler his rookie year and the No. 4 pick in the 2018 draft, so it’s safe to say the Redskins were getting a little greedy when it came to dealing the 31-year-old Williams, who ended up not playing a snap last season.
Redskins Had First-Round Pick for Trent Williams
Ultimately, the sides never struck a deal and Williams went to San Francisco for a 2020 fifth-round pick and 2021 third-round selection during draft week. The Browns opted to draft Jedrick Wills Jr. with the No. 10 overall pick, securing who they will be their left tackle of the future.
While it’s all an alternate history now, the question is whether or not the Browns put a first-round pick on the table for Williams during their negotiations. Redskins head coach Ron Rivera revealed on Wednesday that there was at some point a deal in place for a first-round pick, but the regime headed by former team president Bruce Allen failed to pull the trigger.
“Well I know this much — there was an opportunity, from what I was told, that last year just before the trade deadline, he was worth a first-round pick. For whatever reason, the deal was never done,” Rivera said on Wednesday.
It seems logical to think it was the Browns, considering they were the team that kept surfacing as a suitor, but we may never know. Browns general manager Andrew Berry has been asked multiple times about the team’s interest in Williams, but failed to shed any light on the situation.
“As you know, I don’t generally like to make a habit of speaking or speculating on guys who aren’t on our roster, but we are open to anything that helps improve the team,” Berry said after drafting Wills. “Any decision we make, we think that it is what is really the best in that moment, and for us to get a young, very, very talented tackle that can grow with the young core of our roster, we are very excited to do. Jed has a very well-rounded skillset, he plays a premium position and we think he has the proper make-up to really flourish in our organization.”
Browns Happy With Jedrick Wills & Jack Conklin
Wills filled a major need for the Browns, falling into the team’s lap at No. 10. Despite it being a deep tackle draft class, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas was the only tackle off the board through the first nine picks. Thomas was taken by the Giants at No. 4.
“There are a lot of things I like about this kid. He has played a bunch of games down there at Alabama,” head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters following picking Wills. “I liked his makeup. I like his tenacity, his toughness, his intelligence, and then not to mention that he is a scheme fit for our team. Great movement skills. Plays with a nastiness. I think we got a winner, and I think we got the right person. I keep coming back to it and it is the truth: just trying to get some good players in here and some good people, and he fits the bill.”
Wills also has a good mentor with the Browns in Joe Thomas, who was thrilled when the team picked up the Alabama stud to fill a role he once played for the team.
“When I watch him on film, there is nothing he can’t do,” Thomas said in a radio interview with the Cleveland Browns Radio Network.” All these other guys who were the top tackles had big question marks, in my opinion. This guy? No question marks. Browns home run.”