The Washington Redskins have placed left tackle Trent Williams on the non-football injury list.
That means that his season is over and the team doesn’t have to pay him the approximately $6 million remaining on his contract for this season.
Williams appears to have been placed on the NFI list because of issues related to a cancer diagnosis that Williams accuses the Redskins of mismanaging. If the team doesn’t pay him, expect this impasse to get uglier before it gets resolved.
How we got here
Williams and the team have been involved in a prolonged standoff that saw the Pro Bowl left tackle hold out through the first half of the season. There was speculation that the team would trade Williams before the in-season trade deadline, but no deal was made.
Williams reported to practice last week after the trade deadline, but didn’t pass his physical after he was unable to put his helmet on due to discomfort, according to interim head coach Bill Callahan.
“There was discomfort with his helmet and the fitting of it, so that’s where we’re at as of today,” Callahan said on Oct. 30. “We’ll take Trent’s situation day by day.”
A day later, Williams told local reporters that he had been diagnosed with rare tissue cancer DSFP that started with a growth on his head six years ago. He recently had the growth removed. Williams’ holdout had been centered around distrust with the team’s medical staff.
Williams: Redskins diagnosed cancerous growth as ‘minor’
His revelation of the cancer diagnosis was the first time he provided details about that distrust beyond reports that he was upset with the team for mishandling a growth on his head. When he revealed his cancer diagnosis, he told reporters that the team initially assessed the growth as minor and that he didn’t learn that it was cancerous until he recently had it removed.
“I was told it was something minor, so I didn't really question it,” Williams said, via NBC Sports Washington. "The lump continued to grow over the years, and it was concerning. But there was no pain involved.
“If I'm getting told by various people who I put my career in the hands of telling me that I'm fine, then I'm fine. That's how I looked at it.”
NFI designation appears related to cancerous growth
Thursday’s news of Williams being placed on the NFI list is the latest in the saga since Williams announced his cancer diagnosis.
Because Williams never passed a physical this season, he wasn’t eligible for the injured reserve list. That fact also allows the Redskins to place him on the NFI list, which gives them the option to not pay him, per the collective bargaining agreement.
Will Redskins pay Williams?
The team did not address payment Thursday, but simply announced that Williams is being placed on the NFI list. There are no reports of any other non-football issues ailing Williams beyond his failed physical last week.
That failed physical appears to be tied directly to the head injury and procedure to remove a growth that resulted from the cancer diagnosis that Williams accuses the Redskins of mismanaging.
What are the Redskins thinking?
So unless there’s an injury not being reported, Washington has placed Williams on the NFI list indirectly because of the cancer he accuses the team’s medical staff of overlooking.
Again, the Redskins haven’t clarified whether or not they intend to pay Williams. They just have the option to not do so.
If they don’t, then look for this standoff to escalate further.
And even if they do, this saga clearly still isn’t over.
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