The failed physical is another odd twist in a bizarre saga unlike many in NFL history. Williams initially told the team that he no longer wanted to play for it and asked to be traded June 1, angry about the way its medical staff handled the diagnosis of a growth on his scalp, several people familiar with the situation have said. He had several surgical procedures on the growth, and there was fear, at some point, that it was cancerous. Although it was determined to be benign, Williams complained of what Callahan called “discomfort” when he tried on his helmet Wednesday.
Williams did not come to practice or appear in the locker room after Wednesday’s workout, and he has not spoken publicly about his health or holdout for several months. When asked whether Williams’s discomfort was related to the surgeries, Callahan said, “I imagine so, but I don’t know all the specifics yet."
“I’m going to leave that to the trainers and doctors and equipment manager and see if they can all get together and formulate a plan of action and go forward from there,” Callahan said.
While it remains unclear what caused Williams discomfort, he appeared to be in good condition otherwise. Moses said Williams “looks great" and is in shape.
The NFL gave the Redskins a two-week roster exemption for Williams, allowing him time to work his way into shape. But if Williams can’t pass a physical before the roster exemption expires, he can’t be on the 53-man roster and won’t be eligible to play. He probably can’t be placed on the physically unable to perform list, either, because that is for players with football-related injuries, and he won’t be eligible for injured reserve because a player must pass a physical to land on that list.
If he does pass the physical and comes back to play, there is the question of whether he will be able to maintain his status as an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. If he does not play eight games — an unofficial threshold established in 2000 after an arbitrator ruled Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Joey Galloway had to play at least half a season to get credit for a year — it is possible the Redskins could argue this season shouldn’t count toward Williams’s free agency status and he should be under contract with Washington through the 2021 season.
Nobody seemed to want to address these hypotheticals Wednesday.
Callahan, who was Williams’s position coach over the previous four seasons, said he had an hour-long talk with the lineman Wednesday in which they “shared a lot of thoughts and conversations.” Callahan described the meeting as “an extension of our relationship in the past” but would not reveal details from the chat.
When asked whether he expects Williams to play for the Redskins again, Callahan said, “I’m hopeful that he does.” Asked whether he thinks Williams wants to play football, Callahan nodded.
“I think his heart’s in the right spot. I think Trent loves football,” he said. “There’s nobody who loves football more, that’s into it, that studies the game, that gets into the matchups and is challenged by the matchups. There is no question that he has a love and a passion to play football.”
Williams attended position meetings and talked with his teammates Wednesday. He had been in contact with many, including Moses and running back Adrian Peterson, with whom he owns a gym in Houston. Callahan did not say whether Williams would continue to attend meetings or be in the locker room.
“There’s a situation that’s taking place,” Moses said of Williams. “He has to deal with it. I can’t deal with that. He has to deal with that with him and his family and his career. At the end of the day, he’s his own business, so he has to do what’s best for him.”
Williams, 31, missed all of the team’s offseason activities, training camp and the preseason before sitting out the first eight regular season games. News of his arrival at the facility Tuesday came minutes after the passing of the trade deadline, ahead of which Washington was in discussions with other teams, most notably the Cleveland Browns, about dealing Williams.
Mark Maske contributed to this story.