Eric Winston

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.

Extra Points: Paul, 49ers, Texans, Playoffs

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Niles Paul relayed some information from a recent medical visit, noting Dr. Robert Anderson told the Washington tight end his ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season was “the worst he’d ever seen,” via Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com. Although Paul said he’s only scheduled to see Andrews one more time, Jay Gruden said the backup tight end could be held out until training camp to be safe. The statuses of Paul and Derek Carrier, the latter of whom could miss regular-season time due to a knee injury suffered late last season, likely led Washington to sign Vernon Davis. Paul signed a three-year, $6MM deal to stay in Washington last March but has recovered. There is $666K worth of dead money left on the deal, making the sixth-year veteran easy to move on from in the event he can’t sufficiently recover.
  • The 49ers plan to work out Myles Jack this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The UCLA linebacker visited the Jaguars, Falcons and Ravens this week. San Francisco plans to observe a Mackensie Alexander workout today as well.
  • Former Colts and Patriots receiver Austin Collie told the CFL team he played for last season, the British Columbia Lions, he intends to retire, the Salt Lake Tribune’s Jay Drew reports. The 30-year-old receiver joined the Western Canada-stationed franchise last year and caught 43 passes for 439 yards. He finished with 1,908 yards and 16 touchdowns in five NFL seasons from 2009-13. The concussion-plagued receiver plans to work with a Provo, Utah-based company that focuses on concussion research and rehabilitation.
  • Authorities searched defensive end prospect Shawn Oakman‘s home in connection with a sexual assault investigation, USA Today’s A.J. Perez reports. A projected middle-round pick after setting Baylor’s single-season sack record as a junior in 2014, Oakman is cooperating with the investigation. This allegation could further damage Oakman’s stock after his senior season began with a suspension and didn’t end with the kind of numbers — at least from a sack standpoint, with Oakman only collecting 4.5 in 2015 — that his prior campaign produced.
  • The NFL hasn’t contacted the NFLPA regarding a potential expansion of the playoffs, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. “Until there’s a written proposal from the league that’s when we know they’re at least serious about it and then we can start bargaining over that working-condition change,” NFLPA boss Eric Winston told Florio. “That’s a working-condition change that has to be bargained. It’s not something that the owners can unilaterally implement.” The NFL expanded its playoff brackets twice in a 12-year span, moving from four to five teams per conference in 1978 and five to six in 1990, but has thus far held on off moving to the anticipated seven-team fields.
  • Rice wideout Dennis Parks, Houston offensive tackle Damien Parris and defensive lineman Melvin Holland, and Midwestern State defensive back Marqui Christian attended the Texans‘ local prospect showcase today (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).

Eric Winston Re-Elected As NFLPA President

Veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston was re-elected today as the president of the NFL Players Association, the union confirmed in a press release. Winston, who is currently under contract with the Bengals, ran unopposed and will now serve his second two-year term at the head of the NFLPA.Eric Winston

With the NFLPA’s board of player representatives meeting this weekend in Hawaii, the union also made some changes to its executive committee. Ryan Clark, Jay Feely, Brian Waters, and Scott Wells, who are no longer NFL players, are now no longer a part of the NFLPA executive committee.

The newest additions to the executive committee, replacing the four departing members, are Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham, and Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell. They’ll join a group that already includes Lorenzo Alexander, Zak DeOssie, Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Herzlich, Adam Vinatieri, and Ben Watson.

While the NFLPA’s new group of reps figure to deal with plenty of contentious issues over the next couple years, they won’t have to deal with the possibility of a looming lockout — the current CBA isn’t set to expire until after the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, M. Bryant, Bills, D. Jackson

Over the weekend, it was reported that the NFLPA had concerns about player contracts with the Rams in light of their move from Missouri to California. That issue, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, has been sorted out.

“The team’s legal move to California coincides with the start of the offseason program on April 18,” Rams executive V.P. of football operations and COO Kevin Demoff said via email. “As such, all contracts are still subject to Missouri law at time of signing. We were able to work with agents on a simple fix saying the contracts will transfer to California law once the team move is official.”

The union was concerned that players would be forced to pay California taxes, which are higher than Missouri taxes, on salaries incurred before the move. Now, it appears that they will be able to save some money on any paychecks processed before April 18th.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • In the wake of Martavis Bryant‘s year-long suspension becoming official on Monday, the Steelers issued a statement (via Steelers PR man Burt Lauten, on Twitter): “We are very disappointed that Martavis Bryant has put himself in this current situation of being suspended by the League. He is at a crossroads of his professional life, and he needs to understand significant changes need to occur in his personal life if he wants to regain his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. We are hopeful that Martavis will take the necessary steps to develop the discipline in his personal life to become a successful player and a good teammate.”
  • The Bills officially announced multiple changes to their defensive coaching staff, including the hiring of a new defensive line coach, John Blake. Buffalo had recently parted ways with 2015’s DL coach, Karl Dunbar.
  • Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was found guilty of simple assault in a court room on Monday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. The case stemmed from a February 2015 altercation with a delivery driver. Jackson could face a maximum of 180 days in jail, and while that seems unlikely, discipline from the NFL is possible once the case wraps up. The linebacker’s sentencing is scheduled to take place on April 6th. The Colts released the following statement on the matter: “We’re disappointed to read reports of D’Qwell Jackson’s misdemeanor verdict in Washington, D.C. We’ve not had an opportunity to review any of the evidence or testimony from the trial and have not made any determination as to any action we might take as a result.”
  • After re-signing with the Bengals last week, offensive tackle Eric Winston will seek a second term as president of the NFL Players Association, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The current expectation is that Winston will run unopposed.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.