After three straight seasons missing the playoffs and two consecutive years finishing 7-9, the Redskins need laser focus during their training camp time. On the current pace, that isn't going to happen.
The team's best player, left tackle Trent Williams, won't be with the Redskins in Richmond as he's holding out for either a new contract or some sort of armistice with the team's medical staff.
Unquestionably, the Williams contract holdout has become a major distraction for this Redskins team.
Don't think so? Think about these situations:
Every day when he speaks at the podium, head coach Jay Gruden will be peppered with questions about Williams' status and if there are any updates about the situation.
When veteran QB Case Keenum speaks at the podium, not having Trent Williams will be among the first questions he's asked.
When rookie QB Dwayne Haskins speaks at the podium, not having Trent Williams will be among the first questions he's asked.
Every offensive lineman will be asked about practicing without Williams.
Every defensive lineman will be asked about practicing without Williams.
Get the picture? The Williams sideshow will take over training camp, in a way that even a QB battle cannot supersede. That's perhaps the craziest part about this Redskins camp in Richmond - all eyes should be on Dwayne Haskins battling it out against Case Keenum. Instead, for Redskins fans, one eye will remain on Instagram for the latest subtle update from the Williams' camp.
Can it end? Will it end? Only Williams knows those answers. Maybe Bruce Allen too. Allen did explain that he knows the truth of the situation when asked about the Williams holdout last month.
If Williams demands major changes to the Redskins medical staff, that seems unlikely. If Williams demands major changes to his existing contract, that has two years and nearly $30 million remaining, that seems unlikely.
But could a deal be worked out? Washington fans should hope so.
Maybe the team can increase the guaranteed portion of cash in 2020, when his salary is high but the guarantees are minimal. Additionally, maybe team owner Dan Snyder can broker some sort of clear-the-air meeting between Williams and the medical side. Snyder is close with Williams and this could be a spot to positively wield his influence.
It's entirely possible Williams is back before Week 1 in Philadelphia, maybe even likely, But that game isn't for more than six weeks. Williams knows all this, knows this is his best spot for leverage. The Redskins are thin at tackle depth and have nobody close to replacing his level of play. This holdout could certainly stretch into the middle of the preseason, and perhaps longer.
Whatever happens know this: Williams' holding out of training camp is a big deal, and it will be a distraction.
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10 Training Camp Questions: Trent Williams, holdouts, and distractions originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington