According to WJHG-TV, an NBC affiliate in Panama City, Florida, soon-to-be 34-year-old linebacker Will Witherspoon wants to play in the NFL in 2014 and has had contract discussions with both the St. Louis Rams and the Atlanta Falcons.
After joining the Rams shortly before training camp last season, Witherspoon went on to start three early-season games while outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He participated on special teams throughout the season, but he didn’t really make much of an impact in any facet of the game, finishing with just 13 total tackles on the season. Witherspoon was replaced by undrafted rookie Ray Ray Armstrong late in the Rams’ game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4 and was very quiet from that point on, as Dunbar returned in Week 5.
Though the Rams plan to carry six linebackers on the 53-man roster and only have five ‘backers with NFL experience, it’s still a bit of a surprise that they’d bring back Witherspoon. With the emphasis on youth that the Rams have displayed at every other position, you’d think that they’d give their sixth linebacker spot to a cheaper young player such as Phillip Steward rather than Witherspoon.
For what it’s worth, Witherspoon may find that the Falcons provide a better opportunity than the Rams do. They lost starting linebacker Sean Weatherspoon to a season-ending Achilles injury, so they really could use a veteran presence in his absence.