Bengals’ Andrew Whitworth likely to test free agency

“Cincinnati’s been wonderful and it’s been something that I enjoyed thoroughly. I loved the challenge and the opportunity and I still love it,” Whitworth told SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, via ESPN.com. “I’ve enjoyed our adventure together and I hope it continues, but for me, it’s just been one of those things. Being a mentor and a leader, I’ve always urged guys if you’re ever allowed to be a free agent to take advantage of that opportunity.”

It’s no surprise that the Bears are turning the page at quarterback. When general manager Ryan Pace and John Fox arrived in Chicago two offseason ago, they immediately — and unsuccessfully — shopped Cutler around the league. When backup Brian Hoyer showed initial promise as an injury fill-in last October, Fox made it clear that he would usurp Cutler’s starting job if he maintained that pace.

Although Cutler went on to reclaim the QB1 spot when Hoyer went down with a season-ending injury, he ended up missing the final six games with a labrum tear that required surgery to his throwing shoulder. Rapoport reported Friday that Cutler is continuing to rehab following surgery and is expected to pass a physical by March.

What is Cutler’s trade value in advance of his age-34 season?

The Bears couldn’t find a taker two years ago. He’s now coming off of the second-lowest passer rating of his career. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his first year in Chicago, back in 2009. He has been benched for Jimmy Clausen and statistically outplayed by several of his backups. Perhaps most problematic, he has feuded with multiple teammates and coaches.

In other words, the Bears will eventually release Cutler once they find his replacement.

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