The Cincinnati Bengals selected offensive tackles with their first two picks in the 2015 draft, something that current left tackle Andrew Whitworth took notice of, especially as he’s entering the final year of his current contract.
Whitworth spoke to the media on Monday following the team’s offseason workouts, and expressed not just a desire to kickstart contract talks with the team he’s been with since 2006 but also frustration that they haven’t already begun.
Via ESPN’s Coley Harvey, Whitworth said:
“[When the team says] we’d like you to be the leader of our football team, but we’d also like the best situation possible for us to talk to you when we want to, that’s a one-way street and not really top-of-the-line in customer service. But it is what it is. Hopefully one day that conversation will be had and I’ll be here.”
He added, “I want to be above and beyond and do more than the average guy in this locker room. But it’s hard to do that when the feeling’s not reciprocated. Really, it’s just a one-way street.”
Still, Whitworth is not letting the lack of contract talks or the Bengals’ choices in the draft change his approach to being a mentor to younger players. Whitworth, though surprised that the Bengals took two tackles to open the draft, said “At the end of the day, they did what they felt was best for the franchise.” He also invited the two tackles, Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi and Oregon’s Jake Fisher, to his house to watch Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Ogbuehi had to fly back home to Texas and couldn’t make it, but Fisher joined him.
As it stands, Whitworth isn’t about to let the Bengals forget about what he means to the team or what the team means to him, saying “This is my football team, I’m the captain of it. I’ve been the leader of it for a long time and don’t plan on letting that change.”
Whitworth was Pro Football Focus’ (subscription required) second-ranked offensive tackle for the 2014 season, and he allowed only one quarterback hit and eight hurries on the year. He gave up zero sacks and started all 16 games. But production like that comes at a steep price, and now that the Bengals have brought on two rookie tackles, Whitworth may have to take his on-field talents and off-the-field leadership skills to a new location next year.
Photo: USA Today Sports