The problem for the Bengals isn't that Andrew Whitworth is reportedly leaving. And it's not that they were apparently unwilling to match the three-year/$36 million deal (which, if you look at it closely, is a really a one-year deal) the LA Rams are enticing Andrew with to bring him west.
The problem is that their plan to replace him hasn't worked.
The Bengals began planning for this day two years ago, when they drafted two offensive lineman in the first two rounds of the 2015 draft. Their thinking was pretty obvious: they weren't going to pay Andre Smith and with Andrew Whitworth approaching his mid-30s, they were getting a jump start on building their offensive line for the future.
The problem is, neither guy has worked out and so the Bengals were essentially held hostage by a 35-year old player who's been very good, is still very capable, but whose best seasons are likely still behind him.
Plan A was to replace Andrew Whitworth with Cedric Ogbuehi. Plan B was to keep around Andrew Whitworth. Plan C is????
They're in a similar place in the secondary. The Bengals drafted William Jackson III a year ago, in part, with the idea in mind of having someone in place to slide into Dre Kirkpatrick's place if he left in free agency. But will Jackson missing all of last season, Darqueze Dennard still being a liability, and Adam Jones in his mid-30s, and possibly suspended for part of this season, they're at the mercy of a good cornerback who's seeking to be paid like he's a great one.
You wonder now if the Bengals will revisit their thinking of Kevin Zeitler, and I really don't want to think about what will happen to an offense that did not have a good line last season, and now might lose its best two blockers. Zeitler, likely coveted by many, now has a ton of leverage.
And the Bengals have to figure out now how to do what they tried to accomplish two years ago.