Regardless of whether Jimmy Garoppolo, Mac Jones or another top rookie quarterback lines up under center for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, they’ll be able to sleep easier knowing that the blindside is solidified for the foreseeable future.
After weeks of speculation, left tackle Trent Williams didn’t waste much time re-signing with the 49ers on a monster deal when free agency officially opened on March 17.
However, not everyone was thrilled by the team’s decision to tie up $138 million over six years to retain the eight-time Pro Bowler.
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Salary Cap Expert ‘Hated’ Williams’ New Contract
In a recent feature examining things we’ve learned for all 32 NFL teams this offseason, The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia tapped Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald for some deeper insight on the big-name signings around the league.
In terms of Williams’ megadeal deal, the NFL salary cap and contract expert didn’t mince words.
“I hated the Trent Williams contract,” Fitzgerald explained, via The Athletic. “I think $23 million a year, and I know the front end is about $20 million a year, but a guy who has a history of missing three to four games a season, was suspended once, 33 years old. I hate that contract.”
Now the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history, Williams’ $23.01 million average annual value tops the previous breadwinner — Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari — by $10,000. When on the field, the former No. 4 overall pick has proven to one of the league’s elite blockers over the past decade, however, despite starting 133-of-134 regular season games during that span, he has not played a full 16-game season since 2013.
Despite the $138 million headline figure, Williams’ contract is effectively a three-year, $60.6 million deal that gives the 49ers a potential out after the 2023 campaign, at which point the Texas native will be nearing his 36th birthday. Should the Niners choose to move on at that point — whether because of quality of play or unforeseen financial constraints — the club would only be on the hook for $12 million in dead cap, compared to this season’s $40.1 million figure.
In the short term, the deal is also structured in the team’s favor, accounting for only an $8.1 million cap hit in 2021 (sixth-highest on roster) and a modest $14.1 million number in 2022.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on 49ers Facebook community for the latest out of the Bay Area!