Trent Williams Rumors: Evaluating Impact of OT's New 6-Year Contract on 49ers

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams (71) during an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

It appears that the uncertainty surrounding free-agent offensive tackle Trent Williams has subsided. The top offensive tackle on the market didn't agree to a deal during the first two unofficial days of free agency—the market won't officially open until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday—and remained one of the last big dominoes to fall.

However, it appears Williams came off the market early Wednesday morning. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Williams and the San Francisco 49ers agreed to a new six-year contract worth a whopping $138 million:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

While you (and I) were sleeping: The #49ers agreed to terms with LT Trent Williams on a six-year, $138.06 million deal with $55.1 million guaranteed, including a $30.1 million signing bonus, per @elsportsllc @loyalty24_7. The NFL’s new highest-paid offensive lineman.

The move ensures that Williams, who had a Pro Bowl campaign in his first season with San Francisco, will be around for the foreseeable future. It also makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. Additionally, it appears that Williams isn't coming back to San Francisco alone.

According to David Lombardi of The Athletic, Williams recruited center Alex Mack to join him. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport has also reported that Mack is expected to sign with the 49ers:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Falcons free agent center Alex Mack is expected to sign with the #49ers, source said, as the Cal product lands back in the Bay Area. Mack has been with coach Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland and Atlanta... and now SF.

Mack, a six-time Pro Bowler, has previously played for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan at two different stops.

While Williams' deal came surprisingly late in the week, there's a fairly simple reason for this. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo (h/t Yahoo Sports), Williams was enjoying his first foray into free agency and decided to take in the process while on vacation.

"We're hearing that Trent Williams is taking his time. First time he's ever gotten to free agency. He's enjoying every second of it. From what I am told, he was actually in Mexico the last couple of days on vacation," Garafolo said on NFL Network.

Williams hinted earlier this offseason that he was looking forward to his first-ever free-agency experience.

"It's been 11 years in the league," Williams said in January. "I have yet to see a franchise left tackle go to the open market. I think it would be interesting to kind of see what the value holds."

It turns out that Williams' market value was immense. So too will be his value to the 49ers offense moving forward. Williams made the Pro Bowl in 2020 after sitting out the entire 2019 season. He was responsible for 10 penalties and allowed just four sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

His return should help give San Francisco one of the better offensive lines in the NFC. That's terrific news for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has struggled to stay on the field but remains entrenched as the team's starter.

There had been plenty of speculation on Garoppolo's future, and a report from Joe Person of The Athletic suggested that the 49ers had called to inquire about Teddy Bridgewater. However, Rapoport has suggested otherwise.

"I'm sure they have some interest, if he is released, but they did not call the Panthers about it," Rapoport told KNBR Radio (h/t David Bonilla of 49ers Webzone).

It's fair to wonder, however, how much longer the 49ers are willing to ride with an oft-injured quarterback who has been good but not elite. This could be a make-or-break season for Garoppolo, but with Williams back protecting his blind side, he should have every opportunity to prove his worth.

Williams' contract is also a huge win for the 49ers financially. While it's unquestionably a massive deal, it's structured in a way that will help the franchise in a year with a reduced salary cap. According to Lombardi, Williams will carry a cap hit of less than $10 million in 2021.

With the cap widely expected to be back on the rise next offseason, Williams' increasing salary should be manageable. This was going to be the tricky year of Williams' contract to navigate, and if Lombardi is correct, the 49ers have done so masterfully.