The Bengals have secured Andrew Whitworth through 2013 after a four-year extension was agreed in principle on Friday, Geoff Hobson writes. The agreement includes incentives with new money that could total "as much as $30 million". Whitworth, a natural tackled who played for the injured Levi Jones at left tackle during his rookie 2006 season, played left guard after Eric Steinbach departed for browner pastures.
Signing Whitworth long-term is a great move by the Bengals front office. With Willie Anderson listed as a backup for the first time in his career, and the unlikelihood that the Bengals can secure Stacy Andrews beyond this season, Whitworth could figure as the team's best lineman behind Levi Jones. And since Whitworth is a natural tackle from LSU, the Bengals could foresee a future with Jones and Whitworth as the bookends for the next five seasons.
The key here is right tackle... right now. If the Bengals can't secure Andrews, then how long does Willie Anderson last? He's older, but since he was beat up with injuries last season, there's no telling-sign that his talent or contributions have degraded. If he stays healthy, and performs like the Pro Bowl tackle we know him to be, then the Bengals could afford to lose Andrews (which I think they're convinced is going to happen anyway), groom Anthony Collins to replace Anderson after a few seasons, keep Whitworth at left guard and worry themselves about center and right guard this coming off-season (Ghiaciuc will be a free agent, Williams will enter the final year of his existing contract). Other than that, this team has decent depth on the line with players secured for a long time.