The Cincinnati Bengals are poised to keep nearly all of their offensive line from last year intact going into the 2016 season.
The team has reached an agreement to re-sign backup tackle/guard Eric Winston to a one-year deal, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and Winston himself:
Eric Winston Bengals deal: $1.09 million, $985,000 salary, $80,000 bonus— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 9, 2016
Who dey!! Another year in the orange and black.— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) March 9, 2016
For the past two seasons, the 32-year-old Winston has been one of, if not the first lineman off the bench at both offensive tackle spots and sometimes at guard for Cincinnati. His age is why he's signing a one-year deal for the second straight offseason, and as long as he keeps playing like he has so far for the Bengals, they'll likely keep giving him one-year contracts.
Winston played in 13 games (2 starts) during the 2015 season after making four appearances (2 starts) in 2014. He didn't join the Bengals until midway through the 2014 season, but picked up offensive line coach Paul Alexander's blocking scheme quickly enough that he ended up being the starting right tackle over the final three games (including the playoffs) of 2014.
Winston eventually re-signed during the 2015 offseason and went on to be one of the team's key backup lineman this season. He made his mark in the NFL as a Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle with the Houston Texans from 2006-11.
After they moved on from Winston, he spent the next four years bouncing around from the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks before finally finding a suitable role with the Bengals.
Originally a third-round pick out of Miami (FL) in the 2006 NFL Draft, Winston has appeared in 128 career games (121 starts). He's no longer a full-time starting-caliber player, as evidenced by his minimum salary deal. However, his role in 2016 may be more important than it's been thus far as he looks to help young tackles Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi compete for that starting right tackle spot expected to be vacated by Andre Smith as he enters free agency.
It's possible we see Winston start a game or two next season, but his biggest value to the Bengals is his veteran presence, experience and wisdom he passes down to the two second-year tackles. Winston is also the NFLPA president.