Andrew Whitworth said it was an "easy decision" to return for a 16th NFL season, even after missing seven games due to a knee injury in 2020. As he looks to 2021, however, aiming to become the first 40-year-old offensive lineman to start an NFL game in nearly two decades, the longtime left tackle is pretty sure a 17th season won't happen. Appearing on Chris Long's Green Light Podcast this week, the Rams' four-time Pro Bowler said this year will likely be his last.
Whitworth's career plans have been in place since way back in 2013, the lineman indicated to Long, when he recovered from a separate knee injury while playing for the Bengals.
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"I set a goal in 2013," he said, per Yahoo! Sports. "I had a patella injury and just was kind of getting frustrated with it, and I was like, 'If I get through this, I want to try to play 'till (I'm) 40.' I didn't think it was realistic or that it'd happen, but I was like, 'I want to try to do that.' This year, to me, it feels like this is it. I've put everything into trying to play this season and playing at the level I want to. I feel like this will probably be the end, but also, all my closest friends will tell you that I've said that for about seven straight years, so I don't know how believable it is, but it feels like it is."
Whitworth, who officially turns 40 in December, is under contract with the Rams through 2022 as part of a three-year, $30 million extension signed last offseason. A three-time All-Pro, he's been a mainstay on Los Angeles' line since originally joining the team in 2017. Perhaps no veteran outside of new quarterback Matthew Stafford is more key to the Rams' offensive prospects in 2021.