The Cincinnati Bengals are cutting veteran offensive tackle Eric Winston and veteran defensive end Wallace Gilberry.
This, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Early Cutday Info: I'm told that #Bengals veterans OT Eric Winston and DE Wallace Gilberry are not expected to be on the 53-man roster Wk.1.— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 2, 2017
It’s possible one or both of the players could be brought back based on players getting moved around as the weekend continues.
For the last three years, Winston has provided a sense of stability and veteran leadership for a Bengals’ offensive line that is now transitioning toward a youth movement.
After being selected in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, Winston has had a solid 11-year career to date. He has played in 141 total NFL games (35 for the Bengals), starting in 123 (6 for the Bengals). He is a well-respected guy off-the-field, holding the position of NFLPA President since the spring of 2014.
That was the year Winston joined the Bengals, though it wasn't until the end of the season. The Bengals suffered a number of big injuries as the end of the 2014 regular season approached, one being a season-ending triceps injury to right tackle Andre Smith.
Winston went on to start two games that year, as well as two in 2015 and two in 2016 for the Bengals. Last year, Winston was used to help spell then-right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Ogbuehi struggled mightily last year and Winston rotated with him as a starter and helped coach him up to help him improve his game. This year, Ogbuehi is starting at left tackle with fellow third-year tackle Jake Fisher starting on the right side.
The Bengals brought back Smith on a one-year deal this offseason after he spent a year away with the Minnesota Vikings. Smith was brought back to play right guard, but that experiment failed and now he’ll serve as a backup at tackle. He played better than Winston this summer, who clearly has lost a step at age 33 (turning 34 in November). Smith’s ability to backup the tackle positions is a big reason why Winston was cut.
Winston has been an unheralded member of the Bengals’ organization, stepping in when called upon and helping young players adjust to life in the NFL and the differences of playing offensive line in college and the pros.
As for Gilberry, the former undrafted free agent out of Alabama spent the bulk of the first four years of his career in Kansas City, recording 14 sacks in only three starts in his stint there. After hitting free agency in 2012, he signed with the Buccaneers but only lasted a few months with Tampa Bay.
The Bengals signed him in September 2012 and he immediately made an impact in Cincinnati, notching 6.5 sacks and recovering three fumbles, one of them for a touchdown against the Eagles.
When starting right end Michael Johnson left for to Tampa in 2014, Gilberry was forced into a starting role, which wasn’t his best suit and amid a struggling pass rush he only produced 1.5 sacks in 16 starts, the lowest amount since his rookie season, when he appeared in just five games.
The Bengals let Gilberry walk in free agency in 2016 and he signed with the Lions last April. That only lasted until October, after an abdomen injury caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve. The Bengals soon after scooped him back up and he went on to really help the team upon his return. Though, he was injured in the limited time he was in Cincinnati last year, proving he could no longer stay healthy.
The Bengals’ have had an infusion of impressive young pass rushers this offseason, which helped pave the way for Gilberry’s release. At defensive end, the Bengals are expected to keep at least Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Chris Smith and Jordan Willis.
Guys on the bubble include Will Clarke and Marcus Hardison.
If this is the end of Winston and/or Gilberry’s playing days in the NFL, they both had great careers in the league.