After placing offensive tackle Trent Williams on the non-football injury list, the Washington Redskins have elected not to pay his remaining $5.1 million base salary for the 2019 season.
This is a voluntary decision, within Washington’s rights, but is not consistent with how other teams have operated. Other notable players on the NFI list this season have included Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung, but both were paid roughly 35-40% of their salaries while unable to be on the field.
The Redskins opted for a different approach, choosing not to pay Williams for the remainder of this season after paying him last week when he returned to the team. Williams last week revealed a cancer diagnosis that played a part in his lengthy holdout and distrust of the Washington medical staff and organization.
When asked Friday afternoon by ESPN’s John Keim if he was disappointed or surprised by the Redskins’ decision, Williams said it was combination of the two.
“I mean it’s a little bit of both,” Williams said. “You expect it and it’s still disappointing. It is what it is. That’s their option.”
Williams is unsure of what his next step is, however.
“I don’t know what options I have, I will probably lean on the [players’ association] for that,” Williams said. “I don’t know much more about it.”
The decision not to pay Williams is the latest chapter in a messy situation between the player and the team that will continue to play out this offseason. Williams, 31, has one year remaining on his contract after this season and was the object of teams’ attention prior to the trade deadline.
Washington had placed Williams on the non-football injury list Thursday, the same day the team informed him of its decision not to pay any of his salary.
“It’s cancer, you can’t say it’s related to football,” Williams said. “So I don’t know how much argument we have, so I kind of don’t really know.”
Williams spoke at length last week about his frustrations with the Redskins and how his trust with them had been broken. His disclosure of his medical condition — and his view of how the Redskins handled it — prompted them to request that the NFL’s management council convene a “joint committee with the NFLPA” to review the situation. They wanted a third-party review of how his situation was handled.
The Redskins’ frustration stems from feeling that Williams has smeared the organization without them having the ability to respond, sources said. They also say that because Williams doesn’t want to name anyone in particular, it taints the entire medical team. They felt confident in what a review would find, sources said.
“I felt they wanted to humiliate me in front of everybody.”
But Williams has to give his permission for a review and thus far has declined.
“Because I felt like there was no reason. If they would have done the investigation and they would have seen wrongdoing of any sort, there was nothing in it for me,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t get my wages back, I wouldn’t get anything, and all they would get is a written description on how to do better. So I just thought it was a needless process for me to even be involved in. And there’s a ton of guys whose injuries they’ve botched within the last 12 months that they should have done research on that. Those guys are still banged up. So I just felt like them trying to do it in my case was them trying to cover their own butts.”
Williams said he would not have spoken out a week ago had the Redskins traded him. He also remained quiet throughout his holdout. He said he felt some reports were leaked that made him look bad, casting doubt on his responsibility.
“I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to burn that bridge,” he said. “I felt it was in the best interest of the team to give me to a team that was one lineman away from being a contender, someone who wanted five, six years of solid All-Pro play. I felt they wanted to humiliate me in front of everybody.
“I just wanted them to say it was a situation we overlooked, we’re sorry and let’s go our own separate ways. I would never have opened my mouth. I felt like I had put myself through so many things for years just to put on that jersey. I didn’t feel the same appreciation was shown.”
Williams said he was told for five years the growth on his head was just a cyst and that it was growing because of his using a helmet so often. He said he went to a doctor to get it removed in January, thinking it was just a cosmetic procedure.
“I looked at it like I was getting a mole cut off,” Williams said. “It had grown and there was another one popping up on the front of my forehead. That was hurting once it was cold and the helmet was stiff. I wanted to get them all cut off so I could at least get a haircut the way I wanted it. I wanted that s— gone.”
After visiting an oncologist in Chicago recommended by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Williams returned to his hometown of Houston for another doctors visit. They told him they couldn’t get him in for seven to 10 days. When the Chicago oncologist heard this, Williams said he was told they couldn’t guarantee the cancer wouldn’t spread. So he returned to Chicago for the surgery. All along he rode on Snyder’s plane. After the surgery, though, Williams said he spent $200,000 on travel costs.
Williams said he requested a trade or to be released in a two-hour spring conversation in Houston with Redskins president Bruce Allen. The Redskins did not aggressively shop Williams, though they did have discussions with several teams during the season, hoping to land a playmaker. Multiple sources said some teams backed off when they learned the lineman wanted more money, whether in the form of guarantees in his final two years — he currently has none — or in an extension.
Williams, though, flunked his physical after he reported to Washington when the helmet caused him discomfort. When asked about Williams earlier this week, Allen referred to a statement released a week ago calling for the independent review. Williams said he would have been ready to play perhaps by Week 2.
He said doctors told him it would take 12 to 16 months for the nerves in his scalp to calm down. He still doesn’t have feeling in 50% of his scalp. The surgery required 350 stitches and 75 staples. He’s working with Riddell to find a customized helmet. He’s cancer free, but will undergo testing every six months.
The Redskins will try to trade him in the offseason. Before this season Williams had two years left on his contract. Despite not playing, he will now have only one year left on the deal — unless the Redskins challenge his getting credit for this season.
Williams is confident in his health moving forward.
“That’s 100%, that ain’t even a question,” Williams said. “I feel better because now when I get back on the field, I’ll have my full health. The back half of my career will do it justice. I find the silver lining in that.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Field Yates and Dan Graziano contributed to this report.