On Monday morning, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth made an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio in which he said the Bengals need to step up their offer or he will test out the free agency waters.
Whitworth later spoke with Bengals.com, and elaborated on his free agency thoughts.
“I’m like everybody else,” Whitworth said. “I don’t really know what’s going on. I’m staying away from that mess. I’m just hanging out with the kids, playing some golf, and getting ready for the season. This is my favorite part, preparing and getting ready. I’ll touch base with Pat here and see where we are.”
The Bengals obviously want to re-sign Whitworth and he would like for that to happen, too.
“The reality is it would be great for everyone if we continue in Cincinnati,” Whitworth said. “In 2017 I hope to have a chance to win and I hope it’s as a Cincinnati Bengal and if not I hope I’m where I want to be and we have a chance to win.”
So, it seems the two sides will be doing some talking in the coming weeks, and hopefully Whitworth re-signs as a Bengal soon. As Whitworth is leaving the dirty work to his agent, he does have plans to attend the NFL Combine and sit in on Competition Committee meetings.
Whitworth may be the Bengals’ best offensive linemen, but he’s also one of their most penalized. In 2016, Whitworth was flagged seven times, the most of any Bengal on offense. One of those was a critical false start penalty in Week 12 vs the Ravens. The penalty came with Cincinnati deep in Baltimore territory trailing 19-9 with just over seven minutes left.
But a false start called on Whitworth helped stall the drive and lead to a short field goal to cut the lead to 19-12. The Bengals would again drive into the red zone in the final minutes, but Andy Dalton would be stripped sacked, thwarting the comeback attempt.
That penalty still irks Whitworth and rightfully so. It should have been an offside call on the Ravens, but was instead called a false start on Whitworth.
It’s clear Whitworth sees Terrell Suggs coming offside and jumps up to draw the flag, but the referee calls it on Whitworth instead. If anything, it looks like the ref could have flagged Boling, but nevertheless, it’s something that still bothers Whitworth. He’s hoping the NFL competition committee gives more transparency on rules regarding linemen and how to avoid these kinds of errors in the future.
“I’d love to see things the defensive line has to adjust to, because one of the glaring things from this year I see on film is how much you see referees and umpires get warnings from the side judges about tackles needing to scoot up on the ball,” Whitworth told Bengals.com. “But if you clip film, you see how many times defensive linemen are lining up past the football (on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage) with their helmets. It’s absurd how bad it has gotten.
“I kind of made that point (against) Baltimore when I got called for false starting and the guy is completely lined up past the football and jumps and they still called me for a false start, even though at no point before the snap or during the jump was he onside.”
Even fans sitting at home can see blatant offsides penalties missed on a routine basis, and it’s a mistake that an NFL referee doesn’t need to make. It cost the Bengals in that scenario, so you can see why Whitworth is calling for more transparency and consistency here.
“It’s crazy how bad that part of the game has gotten,” said Whitworth. “You can’t tell O-linemen to scoot up to the ball and have a D-lineman pass the ball. Both sides have to have the same rules. If we line up on the ball, they have to get off the ball, or just leave the guys alone. I’d love to hear them explain it.”
Whitworth will get a chance to, at the very least, voice his concerns when he sits in on the preliminary meetings with the competition committee in advance of its March meeting in Florida. That comes right before NFL owners vote on the 2017 agenda at the March 26-29 owners meetings in Phoenix.
He also joked he’ll be attending as the president’s (NFLPA president Eric Winston) bodyguard.
“I’m going to be a bodyguard for Mr. Winston. Make sure nobody bothers him,” Whitworth said.
Now, that sounds like a fun way to spend the offseason.