Retired Rams OT Andrew Whitworth denies Cowboys called him to replace Tyron Smith

Major speculation hit the NFL rumor mill Thursday night when retired offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth insinuated the Dallas Cowboys were among those who were interested in him returning to the NFL.

Whitworth, who retired after 16 seasons following the Los Angeles Rams' Super Bowl win during the 2021 season, admitted during an interview on Amazon Prime Video's "Thursday Night Football" broadcast that his phone had been busy as the preseason wound down. He specifically mentioned "some things with the Cowboys and losing Tyron Smith" but added that "they’re calling and texting the wrong person," which Whitworth explained meant his wife, Melissa.

Smith, the Cowboys left tackle, recently suffered an avulsion fracture of the knee and will likely miss the entire 2022 season.

Soon after that clip went viral, Whitworth took to Twitter to vehemently deny the Cowboys' interest in him.

"Not the cowboys!" Whitworth tweeted. "Friends and fans if that wasn’t clear."

Whitworth went a step further when Pro Football Talk wrote a story about the Cowboys' possible pursuit of Whitworth. He added that the people — including journalists in Dallas — called him and asked him to go to the Cowboys, not that the Cowboys called him.

[Set, hut, hike! Create or join a fantasy football league now!]

The Cowboys, meanwhile, have also denied calling Whitworth. Josina Anderson reported Friday morning that Dallas is "turning to in-house players," will free agency after roster cutdowns next week and that Whitworth isn't among the options they're pursuing (because he's under contract and they technically can't).

At the very least it sounds like there is some interest in Whitworth — either from the Cowboys or elsewhere. PFT noted that the "Thursday Night Football" cast (perhaps sarcastically, though) mentioned Whitworth in the context of returning to the NFL two other times:

As Michael Smith finished an assessment of the impact of the Tyron Smith injury, he threw it back to the desk saying this: “But on behalf of everybody here at Prime Video, Jerry Jones, if you’re listening, don’t even think about calling our man Andrew Whitworth. He’s off limits.”

Charissa Thompson then asked Whitworth, “How many texts have you gotten today?”

“My phone has been busy,” Whitworth said, “I’ll say that. It’s been [a] busy day.”

“There’s always a number,” Thompson added.

“There’s a Melissa Whitworth number,” Whitworth said. “And that’s the problem they have.”

The biggest issue with all of this is Whitworth is still technically a member of the Rams and can't sign with any team he wants to join. The Rams control the final year of Whitworth's contract and would have to trade those rights to another team that wants him — much like the New England Patriots did when they traded Rob Gronkowski to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 after he retired in 2019.

What would it take to persuade Whitworth to return to football and for the Rams to trade him away? For one, it doesn't sound like Whitworth is enthusiastic about returning after a 16-year NFL career. He kept mentioning his wife and kids as the main decision-makers for him. The Rams would perhaps be open to a trade, though.

With just two weeks left until the regular season begins, anything is possible.

Andrew Whitworth wants you to know the Cowboys didn't call him. Yet. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Andrew Whitworth wants you to know the Cowboys didn't call him. Yet. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)