For 14 years, Andrew Whitworth has let his play do the talking. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound left tackle has started 211 games since entering the NFL as a second-round pick out of LSU. In that time, he has earned four Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro honors.
The 38-year-old spent a decade in Cincinnati before signing a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. Despite his advanced age, Whitworth played out the entirety of that contract. And with the Rams still seeking revenge for their Super Bowl LIII loss to the New England Patriots, it only made sense for No. 77 to return. Ironically, Whitworth’s jersey number played a small but significant role in his new record-breaking contract.
Andrew Whitworth has been a mainstay since joining the Rams
When it comes to the NFL’s elite tackles, Whitworth certainly ranks among the best. Blessed with nimble feet and a sizable frame, he’s routinely earned top marks from Pro Football Focus. Whitworth’s presence has been integral in Sean McVay’s early success as a head coach.
In McVay’s debut season, the Rams improved from 4-12 to 11-5. Most importantly, they went from the lowest-scoring offense in 2016 to No. 1. Whitworth’s presence helped Jared Goff go from a first-year bust to a second-year star. Running back Todd Gurley also ran for a career-high 1,305 yards and led the NFL with 2,093 total yards.
In 2018, the Rams made it to the Super Bowl on the backs of their high-flying offense. Whitworth may not have earned Pro Bowl honors, but he still played at a high level. According to Pro Football Focus, the burly blindside protector posted one of his best pass-blocking grades that season.
Rams give Andrew Whitworth historic non-quarterback contract
With the Rams in a win-now mode, it made sense to bring back their left tackle. Whitworth could have retired, but instead he will be back on a record-setting contract. His three-year, $30 million deal carries a maximum value of $37.5 million. That represents the most money ever given to a non-quarterback over the age of 35.
Paying Whitworth that kind of money makes sense for a team that’s traded away draft picks for veterans. Los Angeles sent two first-rounders to Jacksonville for Jalen Ramsey last season. In recent years, they’ve also acquired Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Sammy Watkins via trade. With Gurley and Goff on top-of-the-market deals and Ramsey in line for a monster contract of his own, Los Angeles has to go for broke in 2020.
Rams have a history of including unique contract bonuses
The big money may draw the headlines, but it’s Whitworth’s tiny $77 option bonus that is the most interesting component of his new contract. According to Aaron Wilson, Whitworth’s new deal essentially boils down to a one-year, $12.5 million agreement.
Whitworth also has a 2021 $2.5 million roster bonus that is guaranteed. However, his new contract also includes a $77 option bonus in 2022—an ode to his jersey number. That unique twist is actually not so unique for the Rams organization.
When the Rams signed safety Eric Weddle last year, his two-year deal included an incentive clause called “Brooklyn, Gaige, Silver & Kamri’s Ice Cream Sundays Incentive.” The wins-based contract clause helped satisfy Weddle’s sweet tooth and provide some family fun. The Rams ended up winning nine games in 2019, which meant a fair share of ice cream cones.
For Whitworth—who has nearly $90 million in career earnings—the $77 option bonus won’t break the bank. But it sure is a creative way to honor his brilliant career.