The Cincinnati Bengals are re-signing Eric Winston, who announced the news via Twitter on Friday.
Eric Winston's deal is for one year. Brings a veteran back that spent significant time at RT in a rotation with Cedric Ogbuehi— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) March 10, 2017
This move has long been expected, and it became all but a lock to happen once the Bengals lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler on the first day of NFL free agency. Winston may not be a long-term answer at any offensive line spot, but he’s a valuable member of this unit and will play a key role in it next season.
Though his playing career will be remembered most from his days as a standout right tackle with the the Houston Texans, Winston has since bounced around between Arizona, Kansas City and now Cincinnati, where he's been the past two and a half years.
Winston didn't join the Bengals until midway through the 2014 season, but picked up Paul Alexander's blocking scheme quickly enough that he ended up being the starting right tackle for 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 that season, getting snaps at both right tackle and right guard. He made two starts that season while appearing in 13 games.
Winston would be re-signed again in the 2016 offseason and went on to appear in all 16 games, making two starts at right tackle. Though he's now 33-years-old, the Bengals re-signed him to another one-year deal that will likely keep him as a backup tackle and even backup guard for the 2017 season.
With Kevin Zeitler now gone, it’s not out of the question that he starts multiple games at right guard next season. He’s more likely to battle Jake Fisher for the starting right tackle spot, or Fisher may end up moving to left tackle since Andrew Whitworth also left, leaving Winston to easily start at right tackle, if need be.
Regardless of what actually happens, it’s good to have Winston back if nothing more than as insurance along the offensive line, which has suddenly become a major concern. He’s also been a mentor to Cedric Ogbuehi, so he’ll look to continue in that role, too, especially with Whitworth gone to the Rams.