Jake Fisher

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.

Bengals Sign Second-Rounder Jake Fisher

The Bengals have become the latest team to lock up one of their top draft picks, announcing today (via Twitter) that they’ve signed offensive lineman Jake Fisher to his rookie contract. Fisher was the 53rd overall pick in this year’s draft.

Having considered Fisher in the first round, the Bengals opted for Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi instead, and were pleasantly surprised to see Fisher still on the board when their second-round pick came around. While Ogbuehi continues to recover from a torn ACL, Fisher should be ready to go immediately, though it’s not clear yet if he’ll start right away.

Fisher’s new deal should pay him about $4.26MM over four years, including a $1.358MM signing bonus up front, according to Over The Cap. Now that the lineman is under contract, only Ogbuehi and third-round tight end Tyler Kroft remain unsigned among the Bengals’ draftees. The team locked up third-round linebacker Paul Dawson, fourth-round defensive back Josh Shaw, and fourth-round defensive tackle Marcus Hardison earlier this week (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Browns, Bengals, Bonuses

Fond of assessing teams’ draft performances hours after their completion, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. provided some additional immediate analysis (Insider subscription required) on which teams’ depth charts improved the most.

Not coincidentally, six of Kiper’s eight teams mentioned here made their first pick in the top 10, with only the Browns and Seahawks drawing mention for their selections in the middle and near the end of the rounds, respectively.

While Kiper chastised Seattle for reaching each year, he’s come to accept what the franchise does may work, considering the annual production from homegrown players. He identified Tyler Lockett as a potential impact player for a team mostly devoid of them on the outside. Beyond their two first-rounders, the Browns’ third-round bolstering of their backfield with Duke Johnson drew specific praise from the longtime draft expert.

Here is some other news from around the league …

  • With interior-line players coming to Cleveland after first-round notifications, the Browns were definitely not as flashy in this draft as they were last year, writes Jeff Schudel of the Lorain Morning Journal. Characterizing this year’s class as one orchestrated by Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer rather than what he determines as a Jimmy Haslem move in getting Johnny Manziel last year, Schudel notes the Browns, who may start Josh McCown rather than the first-round quarterback they traded up for in 2014, are planning for low-scoring contests this season.
  • Coming off a torn ACL sustained in a bowl game, Cedric Ogbuehi seems destined for the physically unable to perform list to start his NFL career, writes Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com in his look at Cincinnati’s new depth chart. Second-round tackle Jake Fisher should also be ready for work at center, offers Hobson, with offensive line coach Paul Alexander preferring versatility from his charges.
  • With teams allotted $86K in bonuses to dole out to undrafted free agents, this year they are using funds from an unlimited area to compensate for that figure, reports Philly.com’s Paul Domowitch (Twitter links). By splitting finances for undrafted performers between bonus money and base salary guarantees, the latter not having a specific limit like the former, teams are spending quite a bit to land their post-draft targets.
  • The 49ers did the most in terms of securing future resources during this draft, by acquiring two of the five 2016 selections exchanged this weekend, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Wilkening. The Chargers and Cowboys traded the 49ers fifth- and sixth-round picks, respectively, in next year’s draft.

Extra Points: Gregory, Texans, Bengals

Here’s a look at the latest from around the NFL as the 2015 draft continues:

  • Representatives for Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory, whom the Cowboys chose 60th overall, made it clear before the draft that he’d need significant support from his NFL team, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter. That support is expected to include a security person and personal handler for Gregory, whose draft stock plummeted because of off-field concerns – notably marijuana use and potential mental health issues.
  • The Texans aren’t going to trade cornerback Johnathan Joseph, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The nine-year veteran is entering the final season of his contract, but McClain reports that his place on the team is safe.
  • The Bengals filled a need along their offensive line Thursday when they used their first-round pick on Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Had Ogbuehi been gone before then, the Bengals would’ve selected Oregon’s Jake Fisher, tweets ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. As luck would have it, Fisher was still available at No. 53, the Bengals’ second-rounder, so they were also able to land him.
  • Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senqeuz Golson with the 56th pick, the Steelers attempted to move up and grab LSU’s Jalen Collins, who went 42nd to the Falcons, reports Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (via Twitter). They also liked Utah’s Eric Rowe, whom the Eagles selected at No. 47.
  • Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said he traded up for Hobart guard Ali Marpet because offensive line depth in the draft was shrinking, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweeted. The Bucs selected Marpet in the second round after sending the 65th and 109th picks to the Colts for Nos. 61 and 128.
  • Michigan defensive end Frank Clark, whom the Seahawks chose with the 63rd pick, said he had a lot of pre-draft contact with the team, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Clark’s agent told him that the Seahawks “had a man crush on [Clark],” according to Condotta.

NFC Draft Notes: 49ers, Thompson, Bucs, Gregory

NFL.com’s Marc Sessler explores which teams could move up during Friday’s portion of the draft. The Cowboys and Cardinals top the list, as the writer believes the teams could make a move for a targeted running back. The Lions are a candidate to move up and grab a defensive lineman, while the Saints could target a young quarterback.

Let’s take a look at some more draft notes from the NFC…

  • 49ers GM Trent Baalke told reporters (video link on 49ers’ website) that he didn’t draft defensive end Arik Armstead as insurance against Justin Smith‘s possible retirement. Smith’s status for 2015 and beyond is still up in the air but Baalke has said all along that his uncertain status wouldn’t affect the team’s draft plans.
  • If linebacker Shaq Thompson hadn’t been selected by the Panthers at pick No. 25, Adam Jude of The Seattle Times says (via Twitter) the Cowboys were ready to “pounce” at No. 27.
  • Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times says (via Twitter) the Buccaneers are “thrilled” that offensive tackles Jake Fisher (Oregon) and T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) are still one the board. The writer notes that the team will target one of the lineman with pick No. 34.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ed Werder says Randy Gregory is on the Buccaneers draft board, which indicates that the embattled linebacker is also being considered at pick No. 34 (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Pauline On Gurley, Bengals, McKinney, RBs

After his citation for marijuana possession, the expectation is that Missouri linebacker Shane Ray could fall out of the first round and that’s an opinion shared by many in his camp, Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net writes. Earlier today, we learned that teams that wouldn’t have had a chance to land Ray before are now inquiring on him, with both GMs and owners doing their homework. Here’s Pauline’s latest:

  • The Dolphins are hoping that Todd Gurley doesn’t get selected in the top 10. If the running back is still on the board, Miami will happily snag him at No. 14, per Pauline.
  • As of now, there’s a very good chance the Bengals take an offensive tackle in round one and they’re said to be looking at Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, among others.
  • Linebacker Benardrick McKinney spent an extensive amount of time the past few days talking with the Broncos and Cowboys. If Kevin Johnson is unavailable when the Cowboys are on the clock in round one, they will strongly consider either McKinney or Eric Kendricks, Pauline hears.
  • There’s a good possibility that Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is still available when the third round begins. While teams like his film and cover skills, his knee injury from last December has some clubs concerned. Recently, PFR’s Rob DiRe wrote that he expected Ekpre-Olomu to experience a dropoff in draft stock from last year to this year, but not this severe. Had he gone pro last season, the Oregon notable may have had a chance to be a first-round pick.
  • There are a number of running back-needy teams who might wait until the fourth round before drafting at the position, due to the quality and depth available this year. David Cobb and Buck Allen have been brought to Pauline’s attention as fourth round types that can contribute off the bat and Miami junior Duke Johnson is also getting buzz.
  • Alonzo Highsmith, senior personnel director for the Packers, is pushing hard for Denzel Perryman at the bottom of round one. If Green Bay takes the Miami notable, the team would then push Clay Matthews to the outside. The belief is Green Bay still values a cornerback with that first pick and Eric Rowe continues to be in the mix, but Perryman is also a possibility.
  • Don’t be surprised if tight end Wes Saxton is drafted much earlier than presently predicted, as teams are high on his speed and athleticism. Saxton, a South Alabama product, could go as high as the fourth round. Notre Dame tight end Ben Koyack is also getting additional attention.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Draft, Dolphins, Bills

The Jets might be ready to move on from Geno Smith, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who says the New York is taking a look at all the quarterback options available in the draft. The Jets like Florida State’s Jameis Winston, but the Buccaneers are expected to either select Winston, or ask for a “king’s ransom” to trade down, per Cole. As such, Gang Green is also interested in Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, and Garrett Grayson, among others, so it sounds like Smith might not be in the club’s 2015 plans.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • In addition to quarterbacks, the Jets are taking a look at receivers, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) reports that the club will have a predraft meeting with Arizona pass-catcher Austin Hill today.
  • Oregon tackle Jake Fisher is a candidate to be selected near the end of the first round, and he’ll meet with several teams in need of offensive line help, tweets Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. Fisher has visits lined up with the Dolphins, Bengals, Saints, and Colts, per Garafolo.
  • With Marcell Dareus heading for free agency after the upcoming season, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com examines whether the Bills could expend an early pick on a defensive tackle.