Former Cincinnati Bengals great and fan-favorite Andrew Whitworth is set to become a free agent this off-season. Here, we look at the benefits of a reunion between the two.
Ever since letting left tackle Andrew Whitworth walk in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals franchise has never been quite the same. The towering anchor of the offensive line clearly meant much more to the team than his play on the field. His professional demeanor and constant desire for greatness elevated the level of play for every individual in the locker room. It’s fair to say he was one of the best leaders to ever suit up in the orange and black.
Now, after a stint on the west coast with the Los Angeles Rams, he finds himself set to become a free agent once the season comes to a close. Would No. 77 be open to a return to the Queen City? If the front offense can repair the damaged relationship, the benefits of bringing him back on board are endless.
Many may believe the 38-year-old doesn’t have anything left in the tank, but his 74.3 grade on the season from Pro Football Focus suggests otherwise. For comparison, Bobby Hart and Cordy Glenn have grades of 55.4 and 67.3, respectively. So, bringing Whitworth in to play right tackle appears to be an instant upgrade, even if it’s just for a season or two.
While his ability to lock down the right side of the line would be beneficial, his advice for players such as Jonah Williams and Michael Jordan could be even more important. Whitworth can guide them along, set an example, and provide leadership until they’re ready to take the mantle themselves.
Speaking of leadership, the Bengals have the opportunity to transform one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines into one of the best this off-season. The league has often seen massive transformations in large part due to teams signing a veteran to provide experience and steady the others. For example, when the Rams locked up Whitworth, they saw themselves improve significantly in the offensive trenches, going from the 27th ranked unit to the 6th. Perhaps Whitworth can captain a similar turnaround for the Bengals in a second stint with the team.
Bringing in the former LSU Tiger makes even more sense when taking into consideration that the Bengals are most likely going to bring in a new starting quarterback. Whitworth has experienced the highs and lows of an NFL season, which can be one of the most stressful parts of the transition from college for a young signal-caller. His resume will allow him to act as a calming presence for whoever the Bengals next man behind center will be. If it just so happens to be Joe Burrow, as many predict, their shared Alma mater makes the fit even better.
Finally, the Bengals should do right by Andrew Whitworth and his family. As one of the greatest Bengals of all time, he deserves to finish his career in stripes. The example he sets on the field and in the community would be a great way the usher in a new era of players for the Cincinnati Bengals.