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Polumbus: Broncos should ‘stay put’ with Okung, not pursue Whitworth

Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Whitworth has been mentioned as a potential free agent target for the Denver Broncos in 2017. Photo by Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being mentioned as a potential target for the Denver Broncos, as the club attempts to shore up its offensive line in the offseason, there’s more than a slight chance that Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth will stay put next season.

Both Chris Landry of LandryFootball.com and Fan Broncos Insider Cecil Lammey reported that Whitworth’s looking to stick with Cincinnati next season and beyond.

But, even if Whitworth were to become a legitimate target for the Broncos in free agency, 104.3 The Fan’s Tyler Polumbus told Sandy Clough on Wednesday that he’d rather stick with Denver’s current left tackle Russell Okung.

“Personally, I would not be going out there and spending too much time on Andrew Whitworth, just because he is so old. You are literally on the last straw there. One injury could be the end of him,” Polumbus said of the 35-year-old, 11-year NFL vet.

And not to disparage Whitworth’s ability, whom Polumbus labeled a “got-man,” meaning he “got” his man and “got” the job done no matter how it looked.

In fact, Whitworth has been a Pro Bowler three times (twice in the past two years) and a First-Team All-Pro once (2015), and he was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2-ranked tackle in 2016.

But, the difference between production level between aren’t enough to overcome that the Okung is 6 years younger than Whitworth.

“How long is that thing going to last, especially when you’ve got a guy like Russell Okung who, ability-wise, is certainly not far off from Andrew Whitworth?” Polumbus said. “And when you talk about getting the job done, Russell did not at an elite level, but he certainly played at a mid- to above-average left tackle level.

“So, with Russell, you’ve got more youth, you’ve got more years out of him. I, personally, would rather just stay put with Russell.”

Okung graded out as the 38th-ranked tackle in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

However, with that down season in 2016, Okung will likely be asked to restructure his contract if the Broncos were to bring him back next season. And with the current market, Polumbus said the left tackle “doesn’t have much leverage right now.”

“There are a lot of left tackles out there. Most of them are aging, so that helps him a little bit because Russell’s not young but he’s not ancient. So, leverage-wise, Russell doesn’t have a lot to go off of,” Polumbus said.

Okung, 29, is due to make $11.7 million in 2017 with his $2 million base salary and $9.7 in bonuses, according to spotrac.com.

However, if the Broncos do not exercise his 2017 option, which also guarantees his 2018 salary, they would not be on the hook for any money and would have no dead cap.

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.

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About the Author

Johnny Hart

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