Andrew Whitworth's intentions are to retire in Bengals stripes

CINCINNATI -- Thinking of proposing to a significant other sometime in the near future? It might be wise to keep the following words from Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth in mind.

"When you get married you tell your wife that she's the only one you want to marry, but if she doesn't want to marry you there isn't a thing you can do about it," the 33-year-old Whitworth said.

Deep, right?

That bit of marital advice wasn't said to scare any soon-to-be-off-the-market bachelors. Instead, it was Whitworth's way of keeping proper perspective as he continues courting the organization of men and women he currently works for. One of more than a dozen key players eligible for free agency at the end of this season, his hope is that at some point between now and March he'll be able to sign a long-term deal that will keep him in Bengals stripes until he retires.

"That's my intentions," Whitworth said, sagely adding, "But I can want to be married to whoever but if they don't want the same, it don't matter."

Indeed, the people who make the team's personnel decisions have quite the choice on their hands. Will they be able to move a few numbers and roster spots around the next few years to give Whitworth the eventual send-off he wants? Or will they be forced in short order to let the man who played a key role in getting them five playoff berths in the past six seasons go off and sign with another team?

It's quite the spot for the team.

"I'd love to be here with them but I don't know if the opportunity will present itself or not," Whitworth said about retiring a Bengal. "At the end of the day, I'm going to continue to play and continue to represent myself and my family. My kids and my wife love it. They love the game and love coming to games and are very passionate about that.

"I have no intention of being done [here]."

Reality hit home for Whitworth back in May when the Bengals used their first two draft picks on promising offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. The moves sounded alarms inside his head and let him know next year isn't promised.

The metaphor about the unwilling wife began making sense.

Whitworth has also stepped back in recent months and taken a mental account of the game's ever-changing landscape. He knows the days of players spending a career with one team are for the most part lost to the history books.

"As most guys across the league joked, when it happened to Peyton [Manning], you knew it could happen to anybody," Whitworth said. "That guy leaving the Colts was the most unbelievable thing; nobody expected it. Andrew Luck is a fantastic player but the situation is what it was."

Since May, Whitworth has been humbled by the outpouring of well wishes he's received from Bengals fans.

"Those kinds of things have been so rewarding and awesome to hear from the city," he said. "That would be the saddest part to me, would be to leave that."