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NFL Free Agent Profile: Andrew Whitworth, LT, Cincinnati

Zac Stevens Avatar
February 18, 2017

 

Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with NFL Free Agency. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.

At 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, the man anchoring the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line since 2006 is set to hit the free agency market in just about a month. At left tackle, Andrew Whitworth has started 164 of 168 games since being taken in the second round of the 2006 draft out of LSU.

At 35 years years old, Whitworth will be among the oldest players in free agency, but he will also be among the best, specifically on the offensive line. Here is what he brings to the table.

Strengths

Like a fine wine, Whitworth has become better with age, making the Pro Bowl three times in his career, two of them coming in the past two seasons. While boasting a solid all-around game, Whitworth is among the league’s best, if not the best, in pass protection. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out as the best pass blocking offensive tackle in the entire league in 2016.

Additionally, Whitworth graded out as the second-best tackle in the league last year, behind Washington Redskins five-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams. In the past three years in Cincinnati, the veteran has given up a total of nine sacks. To put that in perspective the Broncos gave up 40 total sacks this past season alone, which would average out to 8 sacks credited to each offensive lineman.

Along with Whitworth being one of the league’s best players on the field, he is a veteran leader as well and has been a Bengals captain many years in a row.

Weaknesses

With the level of play Whitworth has had as in recent years, there aren’t many weaknesses that he possesses on the football field. However, at 35 years old, his age will eventually catch up with him. Will that be in five years or will it be this coming year? The uncertainty to that question could provide some hesitation in teams signing him, especially if he is looking for a long, multi-year deal.

Another “weakness” is Whitworth’s stubbornness to only play left tackle. While for most teams, including the Broncos, this wouldn’t be an issue since he is one of the best in the league, but if father time catches up to him sooner rather than later, he may be best suited at guard. However, he has said that he only wants to play left tackle and if a team wants him somewhere else, he would choose not to play for them.

How he fits in Denver

If Whitworth ends up leaving the Bengals in free agency, which is a big if, Denver could be a perfect landing spot for both parties. On the Broncos, Whitworth would immediately become the starting left tackle and would be nearly guaranteed that spot until his contract expired.

With the signing, Denver wouldn’t have to worry about the left tackle position, something they haven’t been able to do since they had a healthy Ryan Clady. If Denver were able to snag the best offensive tackle in free agency, his age wouldn’t be a concern as he would likely be on a shorter contract and Denver would be in a “win now” mode.

The addition of Whitworth could come at a rather affordable price too, as he played last season on a one-year $9 million contract. If Whitworth hits the open market, expect general manager John Elway to make a hard, serious push for the veteran left tackle.

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