Andrew Whitworth

Andrew Whitworth Tested Positive For COVID-19

Union chief DeMaurice Smith and president J.C. Tretter held a conference call with media members on Friday, and Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth joined the call. Whitworth revealed that he recently tested positive for COVID-19, and his story is a troubling one (h/t Howard Balzer of SI.com).

Whitworth explained that a family member went to lunch with a friend. Several days later, that family member started to feel ill when she was traveling with Whitworth, his wife and children, and his wife’s parents. She subsequently tested positive, and Whitworth and every other person on that trip tested positive shortly thereafter.

Luckily, it appears as if everyone involved has recovered, but it does underscore how dangerous the virus is. And as Tretter pointed out during the call, there are still important unanswered questions concerning the spread of the virus. Although it may be possible to have socially distant huddles, offensive and defensive linemen have to be in contact with each other and players on the opposing line on every play, so if one of them tests positive, how will the league determine how many people to quarantine, and for how long?

For now, the league is forging ahead with its plans to start training camp on July 28, with rookies, QBs, and injured players reporting to their clubs this week. As of July 10, 72 players league-wide had tested positive for COVID-19, and that number will almost certainly increase when testing becomes mandatory. How the league responds to positive tests will be the most important factor in starting and completing the 2020 season.

Whitworth, 38, has contemplated retirement recently, but he signed a new three-year contract this offseason that will theoretically keep him with Los Angeles though his age-40 season. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2017, his first year with the Rams, and though he is unlikely to reach those heights again, he remains a good LT and a key component of the club’s O-line.

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Contract Details: Quinn, Whitworth, Harris, Lewis

Deals are coming in quickly, so we’ve compiled some important contract details below:

Cameron Fleming (Giants), One year, $4MM, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Chris Harris, (Chargers): Two years, $17MM, $7.5MM guaranteed, $2.5MM in 2020-21 incentives, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

Dennis Kelly (Titans), Three years, $17.25MM, $8.75MM guaranteed, $4.75MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4.5MM ($2.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing, fully guaranteed if on roster 5th day of 2021 league year); 2022: $5MM; $400k annual per-game roster bonus, $750K incentives available in 2021-22; $1MM escalator in base salary for 2021-22, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Alex Lewis (Jets), Three years, $18.6MM, $5.6MM guaranteed, $2.5MM signing bonus, salaries 2020: $1.1MM (guaranteed), 2021: $5.8M, 2022: $6M; $2MM 2020 roster bonus guaranteed on 5th day of league year, $400k in annual per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Marcedes Lewis (Packers) One year, $2.25MM; $1.05MM signing bonus, salary 2020: $1.1MM, $9,375 per game active roster bonus, $750K playtime and playoffs incentives available, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Robert Quinn, (Bears): Five years, $70MM, $30MM guaranteed, $3MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $3MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $11.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $12.8MM, 2023: $13.9MM, 2024: $12.9MM; $12.5MM fully guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $100k annual workout bonuses from 2021-2024, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Andrew Whitworth, (Rams): Three years, $30MM, $12.5MM guaranteed, $5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $7MM ($2.5MM guaranteed), 2022: $7.5MM; $2.5MM 2021 roster bonus guaranteed next week, $3MM 2022 roster bonus due six days before 2022 league year, $1.5MM annual incentives, $1.5MM base escalators in 2021-22, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links).
Nick Williams (Lions), Two year, $10MM, $4.9MM guaranteed, $2MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $2.9MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4.1MM; $200k workout bonus in 2020, $400k in annual per-game roster bonuses available, according to NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Rams To Re-Sign Andrew Whitworth

The Rams are set to re-sign Andrew Whitworth on a three-year deal, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. At the age of 38, the new contract should allow him to play out the rest of his career in L.A.

In the buildup to free agency, the Rams have been consistently confident about their odds of keeping the veteran.

I think we’re pretty confident. I think you feel pretty good about it,” head coach Sean McVay said recently. “He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position. He does a lot of really good things in terms of the mentorship that he provides. … He’s a part of the plan and definitely want to try to get him back.”

Whitworth’s deal is believed to be for more than $10MM per year, Pelissero reports (on Twitter). In fact, it’s the most lucrative deal for a non-quarterback over 35 in NFL history, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeting Whitworth agreed to a three-year, $30MM pact. This accord comes with $12.5MM fully guaranteed. This comes in slightly off his 2017 Rams contract — three years, $36MM — but it’s nonetheless impressive for a 38-year-old non-QB.

Whitworth played for the first eleven seasons of his career with the Bengals. Over his time in Cincinnati, Whitworth earned a reputation as one of the best-left tackles in football. Furthermore, he rarely missed a game. From 2009-2016, Whitworth started all but 2 games for the Bengals.

After joining Los Angeles three seasons ago, Whitworth has maintained his good health (missing just 1 game), but his play has begun to tail off. While he still graded out as an above-average tackle, per Pro Football Focus, and received the 28th highest grade of 81 qualified players, Whitworth received the lowest grade since his rookie season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams HC, GM Discuss Offseason

It’s been a busy 24 months for the Rams, and it’ll all culminate with a crucial 2020 offseason.

They’ve handed out a number of high-priced extensions to quarterback Jared Goff, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and others, leading to only $21MM in cap space this year. The organization also traded their 2020 and 2012 first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey, leaving the team with reduced draft capital.

Plus, the organization is staring at a long list of impending unrestricted free agents. In other words, the Rams could look a bit different next season.

Head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead spoke to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry about some of their critical offseason decisions. The entire article is worth a read, but we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:

On if the front office has engaged in any trade talks:

McVay: “Usually, Aaron Donald is off the table. I think, to answer your question, I think you kind of know who are the guys that there’s not something that would be worth it, but those are ongoing conversations and I think we’re always open to being able to explore things that can upgrade us as a team.

“What we have done a nice job of is identifying those foundational pieces to try to build around.”

Snead: “This time of year, it is interesting. You get calls on a lot of players. There’s a new era, in that somebody may call and ask about your best player, which in the past, I don’t know that phone call would be made. … But usually the answer is ‘No.'”

On free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s potential return:

McVay: “We’re pretty confident. He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position.”

On free agent kicker Greg Zuerlein:

McVay: “He’s done so many things and he’s a great kicker and I think those established veterans are so important, especially when every time he takes the field, there’s points at stake, unless he’s kicking off. But we want to make sure we’re evaluating the guys in the draft and then we’re going to have free agency.”

On potential extensions for receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson:

Snead: “The goal would be, let’s say guys like those two, if we do want them to get back, it would be great to have that box checked. What we have to do now is, because we have, I call it more urgent guys whose contracts actually expire, get through that process first and then move on to — I don’t want to call them less urgent — but less urgent than the players whose contracts are expiring.”

On potentially franchising free agent linebackers Dante Fowler or Cory Littleton:

Snead: “All options are on the table.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Want To Re-Sign Andrew Whitworth

Despite turning 38 last season, Andrew Whitworth wants to play in 2020. That is good news for the Rams, who have seen the Pro Bowl left tackle become a key component of Sean McVay‘s attack.

McVay wants to bring back Whitworth, who will be entering his 15th season, and sounds optimistic the parties can reach a deal. The Rams have big names anchoring their payroll and the likes of Dante Fowler, Michael Brockers and Cory Littleton looming as UFAs.

I think we’re pretty confident. I think you feel pretty good about it,” McVay said of bringing back Whitworth, via Rich Hammond of The Athletic (subscription required). “He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position. He does a lot of really good things in terms of the mentorship that he provides. … He’s a part of the plan and definitely want to try to get him back.”

This would be interesting from an age perspective. No tackle has started a game past his 39th birthday since Ray Brown on the 2004 Redskins. The Rams’ Jackie Slater was the last to be a multi-season regular past that age, starting 15 games between his age-39 and age-40 seasons in the mid-1990s. But for this era, Whitworth would be blazing new territory. But it sounds like the Rams are betting on him to stay effective as he nears 40.

The former Bengals second-round pick started 16 games last season and has not missed a game due to injury since signing with the Rams in 2017. Finishing out his three-year deal worth $33.75MM, the four-time Pro Bowler anchored a Rams offensive line that went through major changes last season. A one- or two-year pact would almost certainly be what the Rams would prefer for Whitworth this time around. As of Thursday, the Rams are projected to hold less than $15MM in cap space.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Andrew Whitworth To Return

Retirement can wait for Rams veteran Andrew Whitworth. The 38-year-old left tackle is expected to play in 2020, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). 

Meanwhile, Whitworth is scheduled to reach free agency in March, so the Rams will have to hammer out a new deal with him if they want him back. Whitworth’s last pact paid him $33.75MM over the course of three years and his next/last contract won’t come cheap, either.

It’s become increasingly hard for teams to find quality help at the tackle position and Whitworth represents their best LT, despite his advanced age. Joseph Noteboom and Bobby Evans are on hand for support, but Whitworth is still the finest protector of the bunch.

As per usual, Whitworth turned in a perfect attendance record in 2019. He’s only missed three games since the 2013 season and hasn’t missed major time since his 10-game 2008 campaign with the Bengals. In January, Whitworth underwent ankle surgery, but he expects to be 100% healthy for the upcoming year.

The Rams’ offensive line struggled on the whole last year, but Whitworth was a bright spot for the unit. They’ll look to keep him in the fold for 2020 and uphold the pocket for Jared Goff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Alexander

The Cardinals are in the market for a new special teams leader. They fired ST coordinator Randall McCray, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. After 26 seasons in the college ranks, McCray joined Steve Wilks‘ Cardinals staff. This was his first NFL job. Additionally, Arizona will sever ties with defensive line coach Chris Achuff, Marvez adds. Also a holdover from Wilks’ staff, Achuff had made the college-to-pro transition, with his most recent role marking his initial NFL gig.

Here is the latest from the NFC West, pivoting first to the Cardinals’ most famous player:

  • The NFL’s oldest active wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald led the Cardinals with 804 receiving yards and did not miss a game for the fifth straight season. But yet again, the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer will take time to ponder retirement. Fitz, however, did add that he enjoyed this season more than recent ones, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. The 2004 first-round pick moved into second place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list this season, currently sitting between Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez with 1,378. Kliff Kingsbury plans to give Fitzgerald an offseason sales pitch to return for his age-37 season.
  • While the Rams received considerably worse play from their highly paid offensive trio of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks this season, Les Snead pushed back on the notion the recent extensions were the wrong decisions. “From a salary cap standpoint, and I assume the cap does go up, there’s a new collective bargaining agreement that’s coming that’s another variable that we don’t know about,” Snead said, via ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry. “We’ve shown in the past that when you have commodities that you might move on with via trade to collect draft capital that maybe the perception says you don’t have and to clear cap space.” That said, the Rams’ top-market extensions caused them to lose key role players this offseason and have Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton, Austin Blythe and Dante Fowler looming as threats to defect in March. The team soon must shape a Jalen Ramsey re-up as well.
  • Another of the Rams’ many key free agents, Andrew Whitworth is now 38. But the Rams will meet with the veteran left tackle to determine if he still fits into their equation, Thiry adds (via Twitter). Snead said Whitworth’s place on the team is “a harder piece of the puzzle.” He signed a three-year, $33.75MM deal in 2017 to head to Los Angeles and has been a key part of Sean McVay‘s three Rams offenses. Should Whitworth not be brought back, youngsters Joe Noteboom and Bobby Evans stand as successor options, per Thiry.
  • J.J. Watt‘s return from a torn pectoral muscle has prompted questions about Kwon Alexander potentially doing the same. The 49ers linebacker is eligible to return for the team’s divisional-round game, but Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area hears such a re-emergence remains unlikely. The 49ers, however, have not completely given up on their highest-paid linebacker coming back for a potential NFC championship game. (Though, Kyle Shanahan deemed this unlikely.) The 49ers have yet to use their second IR-return slot. Like Watt, Alexander missed his team’s final eight regular-season games.

Rams’ Andrew Whitworth To Return In 2019

Great news for the Rams. Tackle Andrew Whitworth, who was wrestling with retirement, announced that he’ll return to the team in 2019.

[RELATED: Rams Awarded Two Third-Round Comp. Picks]

Can’t wait for the opportunity to ride with the boys again!,” Whitworth tweeted.

Whitworth, 37, is set to earn $10.7MM in the final year of his three-year deal. However, he’s worth every penny to the Rams thanks to his veteran leadership and continued level of outstanding play.

Last year, Whitworth ranked as the third-best tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, with an 86.1 overall score. That was his highest posting since 2015 and good for third in the NFL among tackles. Only David Bakhtiari and Terron Armstead finished ahead of Whitworth, and a few places above Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein.

With Whitworth back in the fold. the Rams should continue to have one of the best bookend duos in the NFL. That’s huge for L.A., particularly since guard Rodger Saffold is set for free agency. Whitworth will also be on hand to guide the team’s younger lineman, which is also extremely valuable.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Peter King On Riley, Murray, Haskins

Towards the end of the 2018 season, there was a lot of buzz surrounding Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and a potential jump to the pros. Ultimately, Riley opted to stay put with the Sooners.

Recently, Peter King of NBC Sports had the opportunity to catch up with Riley and ask him about the possibility of moving to the NFL at some point down the line.

I certainly wasn’t tempted at all this year. I would say right now it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I am a college lifer,” Riley said. “I think it’ll be interesting how a lot of things go on from here … if there’s a lot of changes in both games. Football is evolving; there’s a lot of changes obviously at the NFL level right now. There’s a lot of changes with all the transfers and recruiting and all the different things going on at the college level. You never know how those games are going to evolve. I might’ve been tempted honestly had I not been at a place like Oklahoma. But this is one of the best jobs there is in football. Like I’ve said before, I’ll never say never. I never want to promise things that I can’t 1,000% guarantee. It’s not something that really tempts me at all right now.”

After coaching Heisman Trophy winners in back-to-back seasons, Riley is certainly in a great position at Oklahoma. He also recently inked a lucrative extension with OU, so his comfort in Norman, Oklahoma is certainly understandable.

Here’s more from King:

  • There has been a lot of talk about Kyler Murray and his lack of bulk, but King hears the quarterback has bulked up to 206 pounds, a significant jump from his playing weight of 190 pounds at Oklahoma.His added size may give teams confidence that he’s ready to withstand bigger hits at the next level.
  • Murray and Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins are solid top 10 picks, based on what King is hearing. Meanwhile, King doesn’t put a lot of stock into the will-they-won’t-they talk about whether the QBs will throw at the combine. In King’s experience, he’s never heard post-draft chatter of a team executive having downgraded a QB because he did not throw at Indianapolis.
  • King gets the sense that the Rams are hoping that left tackle Andrew Whitworth will come back for one more season, even though he’ll earn a substantial $10.7MM in the final year of his three-year pact. Right now, the 37-year-old is wrestling with the idea of retirement, but the Rams could use his skill and experience, especially since the Rams could lose free agent left guard Rodger Saffold in March. Rising sophomore Joseph Noteboom could take over for Saffold, but the 2018 third-rounder may be forced to fill even bigger shoes at left tackle if Whitworth hangs ’em up.

Andrew Whitworth Considering Retirement?

Could Super Bowl LIII be the last game for Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth? Whitworth has not spoken publicly about the possibility of hanging up the cleats, but Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes that those close to Whitworth and other members of the organization do not know if he will return in 2019. He certainly has not committed to it.

The only box left unchecked in Whitworth’s excellent career is a Super Bowl ring. The 37-year-old, who spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Bengals, finally experienced a playoff win for the first time when the Rams bested the Cowboys in the divisional round several weeks ago, and Rapoport suggests Whitworth could call it a career if LA captures a Lombardi Trophy tonight.

Whitworth signed a three-year, $36MM free agent deal with the Rams in March 2017, and he is due to make nearly $11MM in the final year of that contract in 2019, so no one would blame him for coming back for one more season, regardless of what happens tonight. Plus, he has been the picture of durability throughout his career and continued to perform at a high level in 2018, even though he did not earn a Pro Bowl nod. But his age and the prospect of going out on top and spending more time with his family may push him towards retirement.

The LSU product has compiled four Pro Bowls and two First Team All-Pro bids in his career.

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