The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to extend Andrew Whitworth's contract, according to Bengals.com, which would keep him in the Queen City through 2015... and possibly for the rest of his career.
When Cincinnati selected Whitworth in the second round of the '06 NFL draft, the team had foreseen change in the pipeline. Willie Anderson turned 31 that summer and Levi Jones had concerns surrounding durability; a degenerative knee condition. They needed a solid backup plan and the 6-foot-7 tackle out of LSU was as good as any. Initially joining the starting lineup at left guard and as Jones' backup, Whitworth slid out as the team's starting left tackle in 2009, often graded by Pro Football Focus as one of the top players at his position.
The Bengals instantly recognized his value, wiping out his four-year rookie contract with a new six-year deal worth $24.6 million in the summer of 2008 (which kicked in during his fourth season), keeping him in Cincinnati through 2013. Then in 2011, the Bengals extended Whitworth's contract by two years through 2015.
"Whit is a very fine player and also a team leader, so this is obviously good news for our team," said head coach Marvin Lewis in 2011. "It’s good to get this done before the regular season begins, and I credit our front office as well as his side for making it happen."
"You want to extend the guys who you know are committed to the program. It’s good to see the hard work you put in and to be able to get it to work for both sides."
What Cincinnati does this offseason is of significant interest. It's possible that the Bengals, who moved Whitworth to left guard during the last quarter of the season (and played brilliantly), may make the move permanent. That's obviously contingent that either Anthony Collins re-signs or the team drafts an offensive tackle -- neither of which are certainties, and may move Whitworth back to left tackle if Collins is looking for more money than Whitworth and Andrew Smith and there's no value at left tackle.