It’s going to be a busy offseason for San Francisco 49ers’ general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. The duo will have some tough decisions to make with 29 of their players eligible to become unrestricted free agents in the offseason.
One of the players who is up for a new contract is offensive lineman Trent Williams. Pro Football Focus has the 32-year-old graded as the second-best tackle in the league this season behind only David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers. He was also just named to the Pro Bowl for the eighth time in his career.
Williams, who is making $12.5 million this season, was asked about his future with the team during a recent media availability and stated his desire to remain in the Bay Area.
“I don’t have any answers right now, but I do know there is interest on both sides, of course. I would love to be here, and if the business works out the same, you’ll see me for years to come ... And that’s what I hope happens.”
Williams plays one of the most critical positions in football, and it’s tough to find tackles of his caliber. After longtime starter Joe Staley retired during the offseason, Lynch moved quickly to find his replacement, sending a 2020 fifth-round pick and 2021 third-rounder to the Washington Football Team in exchange for the All-Pro.
San Francisco — like most teams in the NFL — is facing a cap crunch with the league’s revenue plummeting due to the coronavirus, but re-signing Williams should be the top priority.
It will be expensive to keep Williams with the organization. The three highest-paid left tackles in the league have an average salary of $20.6 million. Bakhtiari makes the most out of any left tackle at $23 million, Laremy Tunsil of the Miami Dolphins is being paid $22 million, while Garrett Boles of the Denver Broncos comes in at $17 million.
With cuts and restructuring, the 49ers could have about $38 million in cap space, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic. Williams will come in around the $20 million mark, but San Francisco’s cap wizard, Paraag Marathe, will get creative to minimize the overall cap hit of a new deal for the left tackle.
The 49ers locked up cornerstone George Kittle and will need to do the same with Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner and eventually defensive lineman Nick Bosa.
Williams has been one of the leaders on a Niners’ offense that has sputtered during the 2020 season. He’s an athletic freak who fits Shanahan’s system perfectly. San Francisco has had significant issues on the right side of the line, but Williams and Laken Tomlinson have done their job protecting the quarterback’s blindside.
It will be expensive to keep Williams, but the 49ers have to ante up if they want to keep one of the best tackles in the game for the foreseeable future.
What do you think is a fair deal for Williams in terms of money and term?