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Anderson Squashes Retirement Rumors

    Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson (in hooded shirt) signed a five-year, $32 million deal prior to the 2006 season. 

An ongoing rumor (question?) has been about the possibility of offensive lineman Willie Anderson retiring after this season.  According to Anderson, as told to Mark Curnutte of the Cincinnati Enquirer, “Yes, I’m coming back. No, I don’t want to stop playing football.  My question is: How do I go from 112 straight games (extended to 116) to, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do it anymore’ or ‘I can’t do it’? C’mon, man.”

Then why would he play now, in light of the fact that the Bengals are not playoff-bound and after struggling with nagging knee and heel problems?  As Anderson would tell you, “That’s healed. The bruise is gone. The MCL sprain is gone.  (But) that’s an organizational decision.  My job is to get back healthy and continue working out as I’m doing.  I’ve been feeling real good the last 2-3 weeks.  That question goes to the organization right now and the team doctors and coaches.”  Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has said on more than one occasion that he’d like to see anderson practice on consecutive days.

Fourth-year player Stacy Andrews has started 8 games in Anderson’s place at offensive tackle after starting 3 at guard.  It appears that the Bengals are talking contract with Andrews, who can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2008.  The next 3 weeks will be vital in regards to Anderson’s status.  But here’s the rub – Anderson signed a 5-year, $32 million extension prior to the 2006 season.  That would be a lot of salary to eat up if they release Anderson.  And assuming Anderson’s health is relatively good, there’s no reason why Anderson couldn’t play at least a couple more seasons.

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