Andrew Whitworth

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’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 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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Restructure Woods, Whitworth Deals

The Rams have carved out an extra $7MM in cap space by restructuring the deals of offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and wide receiver Robert Woods, Field Yates of (on Twitter) hears. The moves may be an indication that the Rams are close to finalizing an extension with star defensive tackle Aaron Donald

Exact details of the restructures are not known, but these moves typically convert a portion of salary into a signing bonus, which can be smoothed out over future seasons. Whitworth was slated to earn an $8MM base salary this year and Woods had a $5MM base in addition to the $3MM roster bonus he collected on earlier this year.

The finish line may be in sight for the Rams and Donald. The defensive tackle stayed away from the Rams this summer in order to ramp up the pressure, and it appears that his tactics have worked. Donald also got to skip training camp, which is a nice perk for any accomplished veteran.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Giants, Whitworth, Seahawks

Sean McVay’s praise of offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth underscores how much the Giants blew it by not signing him in free agency, James Kratch of writes.

Absolutely,” the Rams coach said when asked if Whitworth was the team’s top target of the offseason. “We had a couple of people targeted, but in terms of somebody who we felt like was extremely important, not just on the field, but the influence they could have on the locker room, especially just some of the younger linemen. He was a guy who that we absolutely had a major priority on and feel fortunate to have gotten him done. He’s exceeded the expectations. We knew he was a great player, and I’ve heard great things about him just from him being in Cincinnati and my relationship with Jay Gruden. Everybody that’s been around him says nothing but the best, and when you get around him you can see why all that stuff is merited and more. He’s been outstanding.”

Recently, Giants GM Jerry Reese indicated that he did not go hard after Whitworth because he wanted to have a “younger football team.” His offensive line might be younger without Whitworth, but it is also porous.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • On the brink of a second straight trip through free agency, it sounds like Eddie Lacy is going to get an opportunity to showcase his stuff. In the second half of the season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable say that they will try to make Lacy the team’s true No. 1 tailback. “We’ve always tried to do that (establish one running back),” Cable said (via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times). “So maybe we have gotten lost in ourselves a little bit, too. But yes, we want to get cleaner blocking first and foremost, and get a runner established.” So far this season, Lacy has 108 yards on 42 carries, giving him a career-low 2.6 yards per carry average. Lacy is playing on a one-year deal with Seattle worth up to $4.25MM.
  • The Eagles gave quarterback Nate Sudfeld a two-year deal, according to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (on Twitter). The Eagles want to see what Sudfeld can do in training camp. If nothing else, he can serve as their third arm during OTAs.
  • The Panthers gave some thought to promoting Mose Frazier from the practice squad this week, coach Ron Rivera told reporters (Twitter link via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer). Instead, Carolina signed Brenton Bersin because of his familiarity with the team’s system. A spot opened up for a wide receiver when Carolina traded Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo at the deadline.

Extra Points: Raiders, Jets, Giants

2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph has justified his draft position through the first two games of this season, writes Scott Blair of The Raiders safety has compiled 14 tackles, one sack, one pass defended, and one forced fumble through the first two weeks. The team’s coaching staff is predictably happy with his production, although they expected this from the West Virginia product.

“That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” said head coach Jack Del Rio. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • This offseason, the Jets would prefer to acquire a talented quarterback prospect over a veteran signal-caller, writes’s Rich Cimini. However, in the event that several of the prospects stay in school, suffer an injury, or underwhelm this collegiate season, the team would have several options in free agency. The writer believes an aging quarterback like Drew Brees wouldn’t be a good fit for the younger Jets squad, and he notes that Kirk Cousins will surely demand too much money. Jimmy Garoppolo or Sam Bradford could be intriguing options, although they’re accompanied by their own question marks (including Garoppolo’s availability and Bradford’s injuries). Ultimately, Cimini believes January 15th (which is the final day underclassmen can declare for the draft) will be a “pivotal date in Jets history.”
  • Darryl Slater of opines that impending free agent running back Le’Veon Bell will ultimately sign with the highest bidder, and the writer believes the Jets could be prepared to break the bank for the Pro Bowler. The team is already eyeing $85MM in cap space next offseason, and they could easily move on from running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. To add a bit of intrigue, Slater notes that Bell grew up as a Jets fan.
  • The Giants unwillingness to pursue Rams (and former Bengals) offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth in free agency was an “inexplicable, inexcusable mistake,” writes James Kratch of The writer dismisses the notion that the organization couldn’t have afforded Jason Pierre-Paul had they inked Whitworth to a lucrative contract. Rather, the Giants could have moved on from some of their veterans, including Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Alternatively, they could have passed on free agent wideout Brandon Marshall and invested that money towards the offensive line.

Contract Details: Jackson, Whitworth, Hyde

Let’s take a look at details of some recent free agent contracts:

  • Wide receiver DeSean Jackson‘s deal with the Buccaneers is a three-year, $33.5MM pact that features $20MM in guarantees and $23.5MM over the first two seasons, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link).
  • Safety D.J. Swearinger‘s new deal with the Redskins includes $9MM in guaranteed money, reports Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post (via Twitter). The journeyman will earn $3MM in 2018 and $4.25MM in 2019.
  • Tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s new deal with the Rams is worth $36MM with $15MM guaranteed, but a big chunk of that $15MM could be realized in 2017. As Jason La Canfora tweets, the lineman’s $12.5MM 2017 salary is guaranteed, and he’s owed another $2.5MM bonus. Therefore, the contract could be interpreted as a one-year deal worth $15MM.
  • Micah Hyde‘s new contract will count $4MM against the Bills salary cap next season, reports ESPN’s Mike Rodak. The safety’s 2017 salary is guaranteed, while the 2018 salary is guaranteed for injury (it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 league year).

Extra Points: Raiders, Holmes, Whitworth

The latest from around the NFL:

Rams To Sign OT Andrew Whitworth

Former Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth is expected to sign with the Rams today, according to Adam Schefter of (on Twitter). In terms of talent, I had the veteran ranked as the top tackle on the open market. "<strong

It’s a three-year, $36MM deal with $15MM guaranteed, Schefter tweets. That also includes $2.5MM guaranteed for year two of the deal. The cash flow seems favorable as Whitworth is ticketed for $24.5MM through the first two years, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

This will result in former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson sliding inside to guard, Rapoport tweets. Under interim coach John Fassel, the Rams were exploring this idea. They’ll now follow through with it under Sean McVay in what seems like a last-ditch move to try and salvage Robinson’s career with the franchise.

Reportedly, the Bengals front office tried to convince teams at the scouting combine they’d ultimately re-sign the veteran.Whitworth’s camp, meanwhile, told potential suitors that a return to Cincinnati was not locked down. Whitworth’s crew wasn’t lying – he’s leaving.

Whitworth spent some time at guard last season but he’s likely going to play on the outside in L.A. Offensive line was one of the Rams’ major areas of need this offseason and they have found themselves a major piece to group with Rodger Saffold and Rob Havenstein. Now, rising sophomore quarterback Jared Goff should have much better pocket protection. Whitworth’s 92.5 score for pass blocking on Pro Football Focus led all tackles last season.

Whitworth, 35, spent his entire 11-year career in Cincinnati until now. He’s been remarkably durable, missing only two games since the start of the 2009 season. In 2016, PFF rated him as the second-best tackle in the entire NFL and he’s been a Top 5/Top 10 guy for the last five years in a row.

The former first-rounder has started 71 games during his five-year career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.