J.K. Schaffer

Bengals Sign Eric Winston, Cut Meredith

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.

Bengals Waive Six Players, Down To 75

The Bengals have taken six players off their active roster, reducing their player count to 75 in advance of this afternoon’s roster cutdown deadline. Per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter links), here are the six players cut today by the Bengals:

AFC Notes: Bengals, Ballard, Manziel, Raiders

Linebacker J.K. Schaffer played in nine games for the Bengals in 2013, making most of his impact on special teams. However, the former undrafted rookie understands that a roster spot is not guaranteed, and he explained to Bill Koch of Cincinnati.com that the situation isn’t too different from last year…

“The only difference now is that I’ve done it,” Schaffer said. “I’ve been there. I’ve played in games, so that’s a good feeling, knowing that I’m not just trying to get to the point where I do play in a game.

“With this league, you’ve always got to fight to keep your job no matter who you are.”

Schaffer would be vying for the third middle linebacker spot behind Rey Maualuga and Vincent Rey and will likely be competing with fellow special team’s ace Jayson DiManche.

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC…

  • Colts running back Vick Ballard was carted off the field this afternoon, and sources tell ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the player has a torn ACL (via Twitter). Ballard missed last season with the same injury.
  • Johnny Manziel‘s off-the-field antics have “alarmed” some within the Browns organization, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The writer notes that some feel that the rookie quarterback has “lost ground” to Brian Hoyer heading into camp.
  • Meanwhile, Browns head coach Mike Pettine said that Manziel came to camp “focused” and called the quarterback competition “open,” tweets the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich.
  • Projected starting cornerback D.J. Hayden is still recovering from foot surgery and could miss several more weeks, but Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie explains to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that his club doesn’t “want to push the panic button yet” and sign another corner.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.