Eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams is now the richest offensive lineman in NFL history after signing a six-year, $138.06 million contract to return to the San Francisco 49ers.
Acquired from the Washington Football Team during the 2020 NFL Draft, it almost seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the future Hall of Famer would return to San Francisco. He dominated as the team’s blindside protector last season, finishing with the best pass-protection grade according to Pro Football Focus metrics.
But as the start of free agency took place around the NFL last week, no announcement came regarding a reunion between Trent Williams and the 49ers. There’s seemingly a pretty good reason for this. He was close to signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s like a rollercoaster because I thought Kansas City was the place. Luckily my boy (Kyle Shanahan) came through and I’m back,” Williams said recently.
Trent Williams to the Kansas City Chiefs would have been a game-changer
After seeing Patrick Mahomes harassed during Kansas City’s Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in February, the team’s brass made an effort to upgrade its offensive line. Shockingly, Kansas City released its two starting tackles in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher.
There’s no telling what the plan might have been behind the scenes. That’s until Kansas City surprised the masses by signing stud guard Joe Thuney away from the New England Patriots during the early stages of free agency. It then doubled down at guard with the recently unretired Kyle Long while re-signing veteran right tackle Mike Remmers.
But what if the Chiefs were able to add Trent Williams? We’re talking about one of the best offensive tackles in the modern era. Giving Mahomes that type of protection upfront would have changed the landscape of the league moving forward.
Instead, Kansas City will have to either look at the watered-down free-agent market for a left tackle or hit the 2021 NFL Draft at that position. Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. is a potential trade target, too.
As for the 49ers, it’s not hyperbole to say that re-signing Williams has been their biggest move of the offseason. It’s possible injury-plagued quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is the 49ers’ Week 1 starter.
If so, making sure he has protection is going to be key. Between Williams and the recently-signed Alex Mack, that’s 14 combined Pro Bowl appearances.