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Andrew Whitworth will test market if Bengals don’t “step up”

Is Andrew Whitworth leaving actually a possibility?

Wild Card Playoffs - San Diego Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andrew Whitworth is hoping to re-sign with the Bengals, but he’s willing to test the market if it comes to that.

During an interview with Sirius XM radio, Whitworth said that he and the Bengals are talking about a new deal, but he’s also interested in seeing what the open market offers him if it comes to that.

It can’t be overstated how devastating of a loss it would be for the 2017 Bengals if Whitworth leaves this offseason. This team has far too much uncertainty along the offensive line to afford losing one of the game’s best left tackles and not turn into a disaster next season, but that’s what will likely happen if he signs with a new team.

The good news is not only are the two sides talking, but it sounds like they’ve been doing so with plans of Whitworth sticking at left tackle. There had been some discussion as to whether the Bengals would try to work Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle and Whitworth at guard next season, especially with Kevin Zeitler likely leaving this offseason, but it sounds like that’s off the table.

Make no mistake about it: Whitworth deserves to be paid like an elite left tackle next season. Beyond that is a different discussion for a guy who will be 36 by the time the 2017 season ends.

It’s unheard of for linemen that old to still even be playing in the NFL, let alone playing like an elite tackle. We should expect a big dropoff to come soon, though Whitworth has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt in 2017.

But 2018 and beyond is a far different debate, one that his agent and the Bengals are likely fighting hard about leading up to free agency. In the end, expect the two sides to work out a deal, but it’s also becoming clear Whitworth is not opposed to testing the market and seeing what other deals he can command.