Updated: 5 p.m.
After the Bengals reached a contract extension with left tackle Andrew Whitworth that runs through 2015 on Wednesday, Whitworth now knows how the Bengals feel about him.
"To be working on my third contract going into my sixth year tells me they appreciate what I've done as one of the leaders of this team," he said after inking the deal at Paul Brown Stadium Wednesday afternoon. "There's no doubt we can win here with the right attitude and mindset and it falls to guys like me and Domata Peko and Chris Crocker and Bobbie Williams and the other leaders to make sure it happens."
The deal is just one of a few the Bengals would like to strike with their young veterans on both sides of the ball. It's believed they have been talking to multiple players about extensions for the past few weeks after the free agency blitz subsided earlier this month.
Whitworth had signed an extension before his third season as a left guard in 2008, but he's heading into his third season at left tackle and the club rewarded him with an extension average of about $10 million that is near the extension figures for perennial Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
While the massive 6-7, 335-pound Whitworth, 29, has never allowed a sack to the division bullies in Pittsburgh (James Harrison) and in Baltimore (Terrell Suggs), he has also become one of the team's unquestioned leaders. As the club's player representative to the NFL Players Association, he balanced his role in the lockout with leading the offense when it went through voluntary drills at the University of Cincinnati back in June.
It's believed that Whitworth's count against the salary cap for this season is in the $7 million range and that he'll make about $20 million over the next three years. Heady numbers for a guy taken in the second round of a 2006 draft where many in the league had projected him as a left guard.
"One of the reasons I wanted to stay is this is the organization that believed in me that I could play left tackle," Whitworth said.
Because of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations and the Carson Palmer situation, Whitworth has interacted with management on several occasions the past year and he felt comfortable enough to meet with the brass while agent Pat Dye negotiated the deal during the last week.
"I just wanted to let them know I wanted to be here and that I thought we could get it done," Whitworth said. "I think we can win here. I think you can win anywhere. You win with attitude and a lot of that has to come from the players. My goal is that when I leave here we've become a consistent winner year in and year out winning championships with that tough-minded, winning mentality. I think with the bunch of guys we've got in that locker room right now, we've got that and that's another reason I wanted to stay."
Whitworth led the fan portion of last year's Pro Bowl tackle balloting, but didn't make the final team as teammates hollered "snub."
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said last year that Whitworth allowed two sacks in 2010, both to Pro Bowlers in the last minute deep in Cincinnati's own territory on the road with John Abraham in Atlanta and Dwight Freeney in Indianapolis getting past him. At one time or another last season Whitworth blanked five players with at least 7.5 sacks: Miami's Cameron Wake (14), Harrison (11), Suggs (11), San Diego's Shaun Phillips (11), and Cleveland's Marcus Benard (7.5).
"Whit is a very fine player and also a team leader, so this is obviously good news for our team," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a news release. "It's good to get this done before the regular season begins, and I credit our front office as well as his side for making it happen."
The deal comes five years to the day another team leader signed a big extension. Right tackle Willie Anderson re-upped Aug. 31, 2006 before he got on the bus to go to the preseason finale in Indianapolis.
Before the CBA ran out last year, the Bengals usually reserved their extensions for training camp and the preseason. Levi Jones, the man Whitworth replaced, signed a big one the week camp opened in '06, and the last two big extensions—Whitworth and Peko—came in the weeks or days leading up to the '08 camp. The uncertainty of the CBA was a factor in not reaching a similar extension with cornerback Johnathan Joseph, but now that the new one is in place the Bengals appear to be trying to add others to Whitworth.
GAME PREP: The Bengals made final preparations for Thursday's 7 p.m. game against the Colts (11:35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, and for the first time in the clubs' annual preseason finale dating to 2003 it looks like both first teams are going to line up with at least their first offenses.
The Colts have played two or three of their 22 starters at most in this game and quarterback Peyton Manning never took a snap. Manning won't take one Thursday, either, because of his neck injury but replacement Kerry Collins is scheduled to make his Indy debut. He figures to have those first-team receivers with him (Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark) and the thinking is the Colts first-teamers would have to play at least a quarter in case Collins has to play in the Sept. 11 opener in Houston.
Lewis played his offensive starters in only one drive against the Colts backups and it ended in Mike Nugent's 52-yard field goal last year in Cincinnati's 30-28 victory. But that was with a veteran quarterback that had the benefit of spring workouts. Now Lewis is trying to get rookie quarterback Andy Dalton ready for the Sept. 11 opener in Cleveland and he's been with the club just 33 days. Dalton and the first offense have not played beyond the first half during the previous three games.
ONE ADD:In a sign that Lewis may be trying to rest some people Thursday, the Bengals signed rookie defensive tackle Cornell Banks. Banks, a free agent from Fresno State, got cut from the Ravens earlier this week after he played in two games and is most likely here to play a lot of snaps against the Colts.