Andrew Whitworth, 40, Recalls Being Told By Bengals He ‘Was A Little Too Old’ Five Years Ago During Rams’ Super Bowl Celebration

Five years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals decided to ‘get younger’ along the offensive line, opting to allow longtime veteran starting left tackle and Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth leave in free agency in 2017, signing with the Los Angeles Rams. They used their top two draft picks on tackles a couple years earlier in preparation, Cedric Ogbuehi in the first round and Jake Fisher in the second in 2015.

Both of them failed, and they had to draft another tackle, Jonah Williams, in the first round in 2019, who has yet to demonstrate that he is anything more than average. In the meantime, Whitworth continued to play well, five years into his career with the Rams.

In fact, he just became one of very few people to ever start a Super Bowl in his 40s, having turned 40 in December. He’s now surely thinking about retiring after his Rams defeated his former team, the Bengals, in that game to earn him his first championship. And he had not forgotten the decision Cincinnati made five years ago.

Five years ago, I was told I was a little too old”, he told fans during the team’s Super Bowl celebration this past week. “I was told that maybe my time was done. And I tell you this for every single person sitting out there that’s ever doubted anything you’ve ever done, bet on yourself, because five years later, I’m holding this trophy up and I’m 40 years old. Let’s go. Don’t let anybody’s opinion of you ever become your reality. Bet on yourself. World damn champions!”.

Whitworth has not said that he plans to retire, even though it had been widely assumed that would be his decision if the Rams were to win. However, now that they have Matthew Stafford at quarterback, he may change his mind if he feels that they have another shot at a title in 2022—which, on paper, there’s no reason they wouldn’t.

Now, it has to be said that, in a vacuum, the Bengals by no means made a bad decision, even if it didn’t work out in their favor. Not a lot of players at any position can continue to function at a high level deep into their 30s, and Whitworth was already 35 at the time.

They had invested in the position heavily, and it was time to find out what they had. Obviously, had they drafted better, their decision would have looked a lot different in hindsight. Because of the failures of Ogbuehi and Fisher, it’s easy to say that they should never have let Whitworth go.

After all, he signed a three-year, $33,750 million contract with the Rams, which certainly wasn’t cheap, and was more than he earned per year on any contract he had with the Bengals over an 11-year period. He’s actually earned nearly as much in five years with the Rams as he had in 11 with Cincinnati, though of course the rise in salaries in relation to the salary cap is a part of that. But the point is, it wouldn’t have been cheap to keep him, and you can never safely predict a lineman is going to continue to play well after the age of 35.

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