Eric Winston

Extra Points: Comp Picks, Pagano, Gonzalez

NFLPA president Eric Winston is not a fan of the compensatory pick structure that sends teams draft picks for losing talent in free agency and not spending on outside free agents.

I’ve never understood it,” Winston said (via The Athletic’s Ross Tucker) of a system that began when full-fledged free agency spawned in 1993. “It was negotiated in a long time ago. It’s really antithetical to what we think the NFL should be. We have a soft cap system. There isn’t really the small vs. big market thing like baseball. If everybody is spending about the same money, why is it needed?

The Eagles’ decision to trade a third-round pick for Golden Tate probably represented the top compensatory pick-related deadline deal, with the Lions taking a 2019 third-rounder and the Eagles likely betting Tate walking in free agency will net them a 2020 third. (Though, the Cardinals acquired a sixth-round pick (and cost the Vikings a 2019 third) by cutting Sam Bradford prior to Week 10.) This system also affects mid- or lower-tier free agents in March and April, when teams’ compensatory picks are attached to signings.

As a player you are almost better off being cut because then every team can have interest in you without regard to the comp picks. How does that make sense?” Winston said, via Tucker.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Bruce Arians recently plugged former boss Chuck Pagano for the Browns’ job, and the former Colts coach has stayed involved in preparation for another potential opportunity. Pagano’s worked with NFL officials as a league consultant, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding that the six-year Indianapolis leader visited some college camps as well. Although Pagano’s final three years in Indianapolis did not go nearly as well as his first three, he may generate interest in 2019.
  • The Vikings‘ decision to let Case Keenum walk and spend $84MM fully guaranteed to add Kirk Cousins ranks as one of ESPN.com’s best moves of the offseason. “They were smart enough to realize they had the quarterback-friendly setup with a ferocious defense that gives up 20 points or less a game,” an NFL exec said, via ESPN’s Mike Sando (ESPN+ link). While Keenum led all passers in QB DVOA last season, he’s 23rd in Denver. Cousins, though, is just 17th by this measurement. Cousins (12th) is 15 spots ahead of Keenum in Total QBR, however.
  • An interesting what-if from a past trade deadline emerged recently. The Chiefs nearly traded Tony Gonzalez in 2008, months before he was actually dealt. Both the Eagles and Packers agreed to send a third-round pick to the Chiefs, and Jay Glazer of The Athletic (subscription required) notes it was going to be up to the then-32-year-old tight end to decide which team he preferred. (Gonzalez, per Glazer, initially wanted a trade to the Giants, but GM Jerry Reese refused to give up a third for the future Hall of Famer.) Then-Chiefs president Carl Peterson, though, changed the terms of the deal. Peterson, fired in December of 2008, asked for a second-rounder minutes before the ’08 deadline, Glazer adds, scuttling a potential Gonzalez trip to either an Eagles team that ended up in the NFC title game or Mike McCarthy‘s Packers — then in their first year of the Aaron Rodgers era. A livid Gonzalez then told Glazer he wanted to retire. However, he returned to a Chiefs team that finished 2-14 before new decision-maker Scott Pioli traded him to the Falcons the following year.

Extra Points: NFLPA, Supplemental Draft, Browner

NFL Players Association president Eric Winston is hoping to avoid a work stoppage in 2021. However, the free agent offensive tackle understands that the players need to be prepared for anything.

“I certainly hope not,” Winston answered when asked about the possibility of a work stoppage (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter). “But I can’t tell those guys not to be ready for it.”

Winston also cited the NFL’s tactics during the 2011 negotiations, and he said the NFLPA will be ready this time around.nfl

“We’ve got to be able to stand our ground and to educate guys and communicate to guys [in advance],” Winston said.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes the Browns are in prime position to land a cornerback during tomorrow’s supplemental draft. While all of the NFL teams were present for cornerback Sam Beal‘s Pro Day at Western Michigan, Cleveland general manager John Dorsey was one of the few top executives to attend the workout. Furthermore, the team has recently put an emphasis on acquiring defensive backs. They added T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell via free agency, they traded for Damarious Randall, and they drafted rookie Denzel Ward with the fourth-overall pick. While the team does have plenty of depth, Cabot believes Dorsey won’t hesitate to take Beal.
  • Meanwhile, one pundit believes the Browns could end up using a fourth-rounder on the cornerback. “Cleveland can bid a fourth because they’re a team that’s kind of up and coming,” NFLdraftscout.com’s Rob Rang told Cabot. “They’ve already invested a lot in defensive backs, but you can never have too many good corners. I just don’t know that this is someone you can count on to produce immediately. With all of the veterans they brought in, and with them drafting Denzel Ward, I don’t know that Cleveland has to take him.” If this ends up being the case, the Browns would have to sacrifice a fourth-rounder during next year’s draft.

Extra Points: NFL, NFLPA, Browns, QBs

The NFL has sent out a memo to teams regarding tampering and trades. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com obtained that memo, noting that it specifically relates to “granting players permission to shop themselves to a new team via trade.” Most importantly, the NFL noted that permission must be obtained from the player’s current team before talks with another organization can take place.

“Under no circumstances should a new club rely upon any written or oral representation by a player or his agent that he has received permission to enter into discussions for a trade for contract,” the memo states. “Nor should a new club rely upon a letter from the employer club to the agent or player granting such permission since employer clubs typically reserve the right to withdraw permission at any time, and may have already done so. Permission must be received directly from the employer club.”

As Florio notes, it’s uncertain if this is just a yearly reminder or if it “arises from a specific incident that has occurred in recent weeks.” If that’s the case, Florio expects the respective team to be disciplined.

Here’s the latest from around the league on the eve of the tampering window.

  • The NFL Players Association has announced (via Twitter) that veteran offensive lineman Eric Winston has been re-elected as union president. This will be the 34-year-old’s third two-year term. Florio points out that Winston may not even play next year, but he was eligible to run in 2018 since he played last season. If Winston doesn’t play in 2019, he won’t be eligible to run in 2020. Florio observes that this is an important note, as the current labor deal is likely to expire after 2020. In that case, there may be a new president in place when the next work stoppage arises.
  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller talked to one league executive who believes the Browns recent moves indicate that general manager John Dorsey is in control of the organization instead of head coach Hue Jackson. “The Browns trading for Tyrod [Taylor] and not signing [A.J.] McCarron tells you who’s running the show,” the executive said (via Twitter).
  • As part of a recent series, former NFL agent (and current CBS Sports writer) Joel Corry analyzed what contracts top free agents should pursue. For quarterbacks, Corry focuses on a five-year, $150MM contract ($100MM guaranteed) for Kirk Cousins, a three-year, $85MM deal ($60MM guaranteed) for Drew Brees, and three-year, $50MM deal ($34MM guaranteed) for McCarron.

Bengals Sign OT Eric Winston

Eric Winston is back with the Bengals. The team announced that they have signed the offensive tackle. To make room, fellow tackle Jake Fisher has been moved to the NFI/Reserve list, ending his 2017 season. Eric Winston

Winston, the president of the NFLPA, was released by the Bengals in early September. The Bengals, at the time, were looking to kickstart a youth movement on the offensive line with the likes of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher as the club’s starting tackles with youngsters such as Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman in support. With needs on the offensive line midway through the season, they’re bringing him back to the fold.

Winston was with the Bengals from the end of the 2014 season all the way through 2016. In total, he appeared in 33 games with six starts.

Meanwhile, the team has yet to disclose Fisher’s illness.

He’s (dealt with this) as we’ve been going through the season,” head coach Marvin Lewis said recently (via Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News). “It’s something that the doctors are monitoring very closely. (Sunday) they thought they needed to pull him from the game and run some tests, so they took him to the hospital to run tests. It’s not as serious as I would think it is, yet, it took him out of the game.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cyrus Mehri Plans To Contest DeMaurice Smith’s NFLPA Re-Election

The NFLPA decided to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith, amending the union’s constitution from holding another election. Smith attained the job in 2009 and won elections in 2012 and 2015. This week’s unanimous vote — one featuring Richard Sherman, Adam Vinatieri, Dolphins long snapper John Denney and free agent center Ryan Wendell as four of the 14 voters — put the kibosh on Cyrus Mehri‘s hopes of challenging Smith in a 2018 election.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reports Mehri wrote a letter to NFLPA president Eric Winston and the executive committee Thursday indicating he still intends to press the league’s 32 player reps for a formal spring election.

Basically, I’m going to tell player reps, ‘Look, you were robbed of this ability to control your own destiny. You’re only going to get good things from competition. You can have a competition if you stand up and say you want it,’” Mehri said, via Volin. “The players that I talked to loved the ideas that I had. If we can organize the player reps to call for an election, it will happen.”

The co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that brought the Rooney Rule to the league, the 56-year-old Mehri told Volin the NFLPA didn’t post the new constitution on its website until August. Upon informing Winston at an August dinner about his plans to challenge Smith for the post, the would-be challenger didn’t come away pleased with the response.

Winston said Mehri “didn’t do his homework” about the changes, instead making his pursuit like a public campaign. The NFLPA, per Volin, did not want another “free-for-all” like what occurred in 2015, when Smith fended off eight others vying for the executive director job. This led to the 14-member vote this week.

At the end of the dinner Eric mentioned to me, ‘Well, they changed the process,’” Mehri told Volin. “They wanted to create the false impression that the election was in the spring. Meanwhile, they were just going to quietly have his contract renewed by some insiders.”

Mehri has already approached player reps about his crusade. Winston said earlier this week having full-on elections every three years would not be a good look for the union. Mehri appears to disagree.

I started talking to player reps, and a couple of things happened — they uniformly are in favor of competition, uniformly they feel I’m a legitimate candidate, and uniformly none of them remember signing off on changing the constitution,” Mehri said. “Which they must have done, but must have done in such a trickery way that they didn’t know what they were signing on to.

So I think there’s a scandal buried in this thing, because normally a constitutional change would be in neon lights, very vivid and open.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Winston On NFLPA Extending DeMaurice Smith

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith received a unanimous vote of confidence in being extended earlier this week. Smith’s term will run through at least 2021 and possibly longer. That year looms as a critical year for the NFLPA since the current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

NFLPA president Eric Winston discussed the decision to keep Smith in his current post, rather than open that position up to an outside challenger in March.

Is that the way Apple does it?” the recently released tackle said of the prospect of a full-scale election process (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Does Apple open up for their CEO spot? Does Tim Cook have to run against someone every three years? Does the Commissioner run against someone? Is that how the NFL does business? I think that’s silly.

I think there’s a time and a place for elections, but again, this isn’t a public office. And that’s sort of what we had three years ago, and guys overwhelmingly rejected that thought. … So I kind of reject the notion that there needs to be a street fight every three years or every four or five years to decide if we have the right guy. I don’t think that necessarily healthy for the union and I don’t think frankly that’s how good companies are run.”

Smith has served in this post since March 2009 and led the way toward hammering out the current CBA on which the league’s operating. He will now have a chance to negotiate the next one and has already proclaimed the ensuing agreement won’t be completed without a “significant” work stoppage.

Cyrus Mehri emerged as a top potential challenger to Smith, but the 14 members of the selection committee did not end up allowing him to make a legitimate push.

You’d have to ask them,” Winston said of the committee’s decision. “I mean obviously I know he ran as if this was a public campaign and frankly maybe he thought it was for whatever reason, but he didn’t do the homework and understand what the process was and how the process has changed. But obviously he didn’t move the needle with guys and frankly a lot of the things he said we’re going forward with already, so there wasn’t a lot of new criticism and what he said was a lot of what people said three years ago and that was kind of similarly rejected as well three years ago.”

As for if Smith had any role in manipulating the process to make sure it was harder to replace him? Winston shot that down quickly.

I think it’s a slap in the face when you start talking about that because … I can tell you De Smith has nothing to do with the resolution process,” Winston said. “He’s in the back, he offers his opinion when he’s asked and that’s it. The board, the executive committee, and the guys run the resolution process.

This was run through resolution so we had a committee, again we studied it all year and then guys decided what process was best for them. We ended up talking about this for an hour during meetings. Going back and forth, ‘OK, should it be unanimous? Should it not be unanimous? Should it be a two-thirds vote here?’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 9/13/17

Today’s workout updates, with nearly all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

Bengals To Release Eric Winston, Wallace Gilberry

The Bengals are expected to release offensive lineman Eric Winston and defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Eric Winston

Cincinnati will go with a youth movement along its offensive line, both in the starting lineup and further down the depth chart. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher are the club’s starting tackles, while youngsters such as Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman should make the roster. Winston, the NFLPA president, appeared in all 16 games for the Bengals a season ago, but started only two contests.

Gilberry, meanwhile, originally signed with the Lions last year but found his way back to the Bengals at midseason. The 32-year-old ultimately played in five games for Cincinnati. Rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis, plus trade acquisition Chris Smith, will take over backup edge rushing responsibilities in the Queen City.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Re-Sign Eric Winston

Eric Winston is sticking around Cincinnati. ESPN’s Katherine Terrell reports (via Twitter) that the veteran offensive tackle has signed a one-year deal with the Bengals.

Eric WinstonThe 2006 third-round pick has bounced around the NFL since leaving the Texans following the 2011 season, spending time with the Chiefs, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Bengals. The NFLPA president apparently found a home in Cincinnati, where he’s appeared in 29 games over the past two seasons (four starts). Winston didn’t earn great marks from Pro Football Focus for his performance in 2016, although the website was fond of his run blocking skills.

Winston will presumably return to a backup role in 2017, shadowing starting tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Steelers, Bengals

Pending free agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has told his representation he wants to stay with the Browns, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Browns management is reportedly “redoubling efforts” to re-sign Pryor, and the club is set to meet with Pryor’s agent this week. Cleveland, of course, holds the franchise tag as an option, but is loathe to go down that avenue unless a long-term deal cannot be reached. Pryor has spoken highly of the Browns and head coach Hue Jackson in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s willing to take a hometown discount to remain Cleveland.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston says he’s “hopeful” about a return to the Bengals, and noted a new deal “looks promising,” per SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Thought to be buried on Cincinnati’s depth chart, Winston ended up rotating right tackle snaps with former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi, and ultimately played on roughly a quarter of the Bengals’ offensive snaps. Winston, 33, signed a minimum salary benefit contract with Cincinnati in 2016, and would likely be forced to accept a similar deal this year.
  • If the Viking release running back Adrian Peterson (or ask him to take a paycut), the Steelers could confidently argue that Peterson’s $14MM annual salary was an anomaly, and pressure pending free agent Le’Veon Bell to accept something closer to LeSean McCoy‘s $8MM per year, opines Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Pittsburgh is likely to franchise Bell at a cost north of $12MM for 2017, and would probably be willing to go near $10MM annually on a long-term extension, per Fowler. Approaching, or exceeding, Peterson’s $14MM figure would represent a problem, however.
  • The Ravens will not hire a formal quarterbacks coach for the 2017 season, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will lead the QBs room, while Craig Ver Steeg — whom previous reports had indicated would become Baltimore’s new quarterbacks coach — will remain an offensive assistant.
  • In his latest chat at ESPN.com, Tony Grossi covers which quarterbacks the Browns may target if they strike out on Jimmy Garoppolo, the likelihood of Tyrod Taylor — who is said to be on Cleveland’s radar — heading to northern Ohio, and other position groups the Browns may target in free agency.