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Offseason Outlook: Rams LT Andrew Whitworth set to enter free agency

Though the Rams were forced to shuffle their offensive line around due to injuries this season, the one constant was left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

In addition to protecting quarterback Jared Goff's blindside, he was a leader not only for the offensive line but in the entire locker room. He helped get a young group up to speed, one that eventually allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL in 2019 despite those changes. The former LSU was also very active in the community, as shown by his nomination as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination this year.

Whitworth has started in 47 out of 48 possible regular season games since signing with Los Angeles as a free agent prior to the 2017 season. However, that three-year deal has officially run its course, and he's slated to be a free agent when the new league year begins March 18.

The 38-year-old Whitworth wants to continue playing in 2020. He would like to do so with the Rams, but also made it clear he will be listening to other offers.

"Obviously, anytime you're a free agent, you've got to listen to everything and figure out what's best for you," Whitworth said. "But of course, for me and my family, being a Ram would be No. 1, without question."

Should Whitworth depart, the team has a couple of options already on its roster.

One is 2018 third-round pick Joe Noteboom, who began the 2019 season as the Rams' starting left guard but was being groomed as Whitworth's eventual replacement, according to general manager Les Snead. However, Noteboom underwent season-ending knee surgery in mid-October, a setback which Snead said complicates their ability to evaluate whether he is ready for that role in 2020.

Los Angeles could also turn to Bobby Evans, who started seven games at right tackle as a rookie but projects as a guard or left tackle.

While both Noteboom and Evans have gained valuable experience and were cross-trained along the offensive line during the preseason, they also have a small sample size as starters. Whitworth returning for at least another season would be beneficial move for both him and the organization, allowing its future options to continue developing while affording him the chance to continue playing for his family's top choice.

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