Andrew Whitworth prepares for a Rams return that he knows isn’t a certainty

Rams G.M. Les Snead has said that he expects tackle Andrew Whitworth to return in 2021. Whitworth hopes to return, but he’s a realist.

“The plan is to prepare myself to play and to plan to be back,” Whitworth recently told Gary Klein of the L.A. Times. “But obviously, I have no idea what’s going to happen with our salary-cap situation. . . . You go through the offseason, you make sure you check off all the things that are feeling good and doing great. . . . So, it’s a longer process than probably saying, ‘Hey, I’m back.’ It means I’m committed to being back and that’s the plan. Obviously, there’s a lot of work between now and then that has to go into that on a lot of different facets.”

Whitworth has a guaranteed roster bonus of $2.5 million, payable on March 19. He also has a non-guaranteed salary of $7.5 million. Given Whitworth’s skill level, $10 million isn’t an unreasonable investment. With the cap dropping, however, all bets are off; if the Rams can find a better dollar-for-dollar option, they could opt to move on.

Even if Whitworth stays, he knows that 2021 will be a very different year — beyond the trade that will send Jared Goff to Detroit.

“I try to explain to people that ask me around town, it’s like every August I show up I’m looking around the room like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s right this guy’s not here anymore,” Whitworth told Klein. “Oh, that’s right, he left in free agency.’ . . . That’s the nature of our business. We’re used to a different face every year. So, when you play that last game, one of the reasons guys are usually so upset when that last game happens is they’re like, ‘Man, this group of guys, I probably won’t ever play with again. And that usually holds true. It’s pretty rare when it’s not.”

Eventually, Whitworth will be on those those faces who is replaced. It could be as soon as this year. Even if it’s not, Whitworth seems to be bracing for the inevitability of it.