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.
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.
Spend your morning tapping into the wealth of sport knowledge from three-time Super Bowl champion and former Broncos offensive lineman Mark "Stink" Schlereth and longtime Denver sports radio voice Mike Evans. Schlereth spent 12 seasons in the NFL, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl and winning a Super Bowl with the Redskins and two with the Broncos. He's also a longtime NFL analyst for ESPN and supporting cast member of "Ballers" on HBO. Evans has graced the sports radio airwaves for two decades, 15 years in Denver. He's a proud graduate of Syracuse University.
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