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Report: Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth expected to sign with LA Rams

This comes as a big surprise and leaves the Bengals with serious questions in regards to the offensive line.

11 year Cincinnati Bengals veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Rams, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Per Rapoport, the deal is expected to be for three years and totals $36 million with $15 million in guarantees. That includes $2.5 million guaranteed in year two. The deal is said to pay more than $13 million in year one (2017) and $24.5 million during the course of the second year (2018). Whitworth will likely retire with the Rams as he’ll be 38 by the end of the 2019 season and would turn 39 during the 2020 season.

Whitworth’s agent has confirmed the news. Though, Whitworth cannot officially sign with the Rams until 4:00 p.m. ET, when free agency kicks off.

This comes as a big surprise as the Bengals seemed keen on bringing him back and Whitworth seemed to want to sign with a competitive team, ready to win now. The Rams, one of the worst teams in the NFL for the last few seasons, now will have a trusted left tackle to protect their 2016 first overall draft pick, quarterback Jared Goff.

This is a massive loss for the Bengals as the former LSU Tiger plays a tremendous role on the Bengals’ roster, not only as the team’s best offensive lineman, but also as a leader and strong veteran presence.

Whitworth started every game in 2016, 15 of which came at left tackle. Proving he’s a team player, Whitworth started Week 16 at left guard, while filling in for the injured Clint Boling, before moving back to left tackle in week 17. Whitworth was more allowing the Bengals to test out Cedric Ogbuehi at his left tackle spot in that Week 16 appearance at left guard. He also made it known that he did not want to play left guard in 2017.

In 2016, Whitworth allowed only 14 total quarterback pressures across 561 pass-blocking snaps and ranked second among all left tackles last year in Pro Football Focus’ ranking. PFF also ranked Whitworth among the Bengals’ only “elite” players in 2016 and noted that after Week 5, Whitworth allowed only one sack for the remainder of the season. Whitworth made the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year (third time in his career) and proved he’s still among the best left tackles in the NFL, despite being 35-years-old.

Whitworth was a 2006 second round draft pick by the Bengals. He will go down in history as one of the best Bengals players of all time and a top three Bengals offensive lineman of all time. Whitworth has played his entire career to date in the NFL in Cincinnati but has never won a playoff game. The thought was that if Whitworth were to leave the Bengals this offseason, it would be for a team that’s contending for a Super Bowl. It’s hard to fit the Rams into that category.

The Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher before the end of the 2016 season and have hired Sean McVay, the NFL's youngest head coach at the time of his hiring (30), now 31.

This move by the Rams leaves the Bengals’ offensive line, a unit that struggled in 2016, in serious disarray without its best player. There’s also a good chance the second best Bengals’ offensive lineman, Kevin Zeitler, leaves in free agency, too.

Whitworth finishes his Bengals career having played 168 games in stripes. He has started 55 games in a row, which ranks fourth among all NFL offensive tackles.

The Bengals will sorely miss having Whitworth in Cincinnati.