Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth told the LA Times this week that he plans to return to play a 16th season in the NFL, and his fifth with Los Angeles. Whitworth is uncertain, however, if the Rams can afford to pay his $11 million cap hit and knows that it is out of his control.
“The plan is to prepare myself to play and to plan to be back,” Whitworth, 39, said after speaking at a news conference to open the Los Angeles Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccination site. “But obviously, I have no idea what’s going to happen with our salary-cap situation. ... You go through the offseason, you make sure you check off all the things that are feeling good and doing great.
“So, it’s a longer process than probably saying, ‘Hey, I’m back.’ It means I’m committed to being back and that’s the plan. Obviously, there’s a lot of work between now and then that has to go into that on a lot of different facets.”
Whitworth, 39, missed seven games last season with a torn MCL. He returned in time to play in both playoff games, however.
The Rams are looking to create cap space for 2021 and Whitworth carries an $11.1 million cap hit. The team would save $5.3 million by releasing him now, or $7 million if they release him with a post-June 1 designation. As of now, all signs point towards Whitworth not wanting or expecting that release to happen. Rams general manager Les Snead has indicated that the team would like Whitworth to return and that he believes the left tackle played as well as ever in 2020.
But he also didn’t commit to retaining Whitworth at his current price. Free agency begins on March 17 and we should know before then if the Rams expect Whitworth to return to the team or not.