Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth may not have made the Pro Bowl outright this year, but chances are good that he will end up there. He was named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl, which means that any tackle from the AFC that backs out of the Pro Bowl will be replaced by Whitworth.
These days, there is routinely a large percentage of players from almost every position that ultimately chooses not to play in the game, or is unable to play in the game due to the fact that their team is in the Super Bowl. So, as said, there is a pretty good chance that he ends up in the Pro Bowl in another month or so.
But in the meantime, there is a pretty good chance that he ends up playing guard for the final two games of the 2016 regular season, with the Bengals already eliminated, and that could be an interesting prelude to the 2017 season and the final chapter of Whitworth’s career.
Bengals left guard Clint Boling is dealing with a shoulder injury, and there is a possibility that he will not play in the final two games—a possibility made all the more likely given the fact that they are no longer playing for a hypothetical postseason bid.
Whitworth has prior experience playing at guard, and, in fact, has done it very well in the past. He spent time their during the 2013 season most recently after Boling suffered a torn ACL during the year, but he also spent portions of the early part of his career lined up inside.
His versatility, and the makeup of the Bengals’ roster, makes his future an interesting question to ponder, given that he is heading into free agency after this season. And he is also 35 years old. While he has not shown any obvious signs of decline just yet, you can imagine that front offices will wonder how far off that is.
Whitworth has said that he would like to stay with the Bengals, who drafted him in the second round all the way back in 2006, and even intimated that he may be willing to be flexible in moving to guard, in order to accommodate the team’s recent draft moves, which included taking tackles in the first and second rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.
But he also said that he still sees himself as a left tackle, and that he believes that he is doing it at a high level. It is certainly possible that the Bengals end up re-signing him and that he continues to play in his left tackle spot, but it does open a window of opportunity for him to leave.
Could he be tempted by a short-term deal for an obvious Super Bowl contender, such as the Seahawks, who are in need of improvement along their offensive line? Would he really be willing to kick inside to guard during the last years of his career to stay in Cincinnati?