Andrew Whitworth may be about to enter his last year under contract with the Bengals, but the offensive tackle isn't ready to hang up his cleats. In fact, he told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, he plans to play in the NFL for four more years.
And, with the way Whitworth played last year, there's no reason the 33-year-old NFL veteran with nine years of Bengals experience under his belt should call it quits anytime soon. In 2014, Whitworth was named to the second-team all-pro squad, he missed out on another Pro Bowl, though he didn't allow a single sack all season and surrendered just nine total pressures on the year. Whitworth's 36.8 PFF grade in 2014 was the highest grade of his career, during which he played just one position at. In 2013, he had a 38.4 PFF grade while playing nine games at LT in and six at LG.
With the level of his play so high, Whitworth won't be slowing down anytime soon. Here's what he told Hobson before Tuesday's training camp practice, during which he received a rest day:
"The number that kept coming up is 12 years. Some might have squeezed to 13, but most of them were 12. I still have three to four years left. NFL football is just different now. The way we practice, our schedule, I can go longer. The one denominator I found is that they were probably a little heavy late in their careers and I don’t think that helped them play longer….Carrying that much weight, at some point you’re going to break down."
Whitworth trimmed down this offseason, and it's noticeable. Some have joked around saying "big Whit no more." Removing carbs from his diet and going on walks in his hometown in Louisiana helped him to drop some of the weight.
After the Bengals drafted two offensive tackles in the first two rounds of this year's draft, Whitworth was vocally frustrated, though, he still took the rookies under his wings and invited them to his home just days after the draft. Whitworth has mentioned more than once he wants to end his career where it started -- in Cincinnati.
While it's hard to image Whitworth playing anywhere else, it's also somewhat difficult to understand why the Bengals would draft back to back OTs in the first two rounds of the draft if Whitworth was included in the team's plans after this year. Andre Smith and Eric Winston will also become free agents after the 2015 season.
Now, regarding the future of his career, Whitworth is saying he'll "see where the chips fall."
"That is my intention and my hope,’ said Whitworth of remaining a Bengal. "When you get married you tell your wife she’s the only one you want to marry. But if she doesn’t want to marry you, there’s nothing you can do about it. They’ve been awesome to me. I’ve been great to them. I would love to stay here, but no one knows what the future holds."