2:26pm: The Bengals announced the signing of Winston, and cut two more players, waiving tackle Jamon Meredith from the active roster and linebacker J.K. Schaffer from injured reserve (Twitter link). The series of moves leaves the team with an opening on its 53-man roster.
1:35pm: The Bengals have agreed to terms with veteran free agent tackle Eric Winston, according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Garafolo’s report comes on the heels of one from Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, who indicated (via Twitter) that the two sides were nearing an agreement. It’s a one-year deal, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (via Twitter).
Winston, 31, has been one of the league’s most durable linemen over the last few years, starting all 16 of his teams’ games in Houston, Kansas City, and – most recently – Arizona in each of the last seven seasons, prior to 2014. According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), the former third-round pick ranked as just the 69th-best tackle out of 76 qualified players last season. However, that may have been an aberration, considering Winston recorded consistently positive grades in every year leading up to 2013.
In any case, Winston was cut by the Seahawks at the end of the ’14 preseason and has been a free agent since then, despite tryouts with the Vikings, Falcons, and Eagles. In the meantime, Winston has been keeping busy with his role as the NFLPA president, but it appears he’ll get a chance to earn some playing time on Cincinnati’s offensive line as the team makes a push for a playoff spot.
Starting tackle Andre Smith was lost for the season and placed on injured reserve last week, prompting the team to sign Jamon Meredith and start Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. In Winston, the Bengals add a reliable veteran who is capable of stepping into a starting role if necessary.
Cincinnati opened up a roster spot yesterday by placing linebacker Jayson DiManche on IR, so the club won’t have to make another move to make room for Winston.