The Bengals tend to be cheap in free agency, even when it comes to their own players.
Unfortunately, that proved to be true with Andrew Whitworth. One of the best offensive lineman to ever don Bengal stripes, Whitworth left to sign a three-year deal with the lowly Rams this offseason, which pays him over $11 million annually.
The Bengals were willing to pay Whitworth close to that rate, but they weren’t going to give him anything beyond a one-year deal. According to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, the Bengals only offered Whitworth a one-year deal worthup to $10 million with incentives.
Though that sounds like a decent offer for a 35-year-old lineman, it wasn’t nearly enough to match what the Rams and others were offering.
"It just felt cool to be wanted that much and it’s an opportunity for me to go somewhere," Whitworth told ESPN. "That’s truly all I can think about, the impact I can make for them over the next couple of years, and not really, whether this other guy is going to play and that kind of deal."
But that wasn’t the only reason why Whitworth left. He was ready for a fresh start, so much so that he was ready to find a new team that wouldn’t even see the Bengals on their schedule in the near future. The Rams and Bengals won’t play a regular-season game again until 2019, the final year of his new deal.
"At one point it was just purely loyalty, all you know is Cincinnati and you just need to go back there because that’s all you know," Whitworth said. "I started to really open my eyes to man, what a challenge, and a new place, that would be something that invigorates me and makes me want to push even harder and do even more, find some other part of me that I don’t know exists that I can challenge myself to become. And that’s what really intrigued me about the move.
"And then when I realized I was open to moving, and moving on to a new challenge, I really wanted to be away from Cincinnati’s situation. I wasn’t as keen on going somewhere where’d I play Cincinnati and be around it. I wanted to go far away and kind of have a fresh start."
It’s great to see Whitworth getting the fresh start he wanted while also getting the payday he deserves. It’s too bad the Bengals weren’t willing to even come close to matching the full extent of the deal.
It’s a terrible thing to lose a great player to another team when that new team is willing to offer just about what the prior team is offering. But the Bengals didn’t even come close to being competitive here. Whitworth has done enough for this franchise to warrant that much, not to mention how much the Bengals still need him. So, it’s sad seeing him leave without a real fight. It should be surprising, but considering the Bengals’ history, it’s not all too surprising given how cheaply this franchise operates.