Should the Bengals Re-Sign Eric Winston?


Jan 29, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFLPA president

Eric Winston

speaks during a press conference at Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This past season the Bengals experience a rash of injuries, which included Andre Smith‘s torn triceps in Week 12.  In response to this injury, the Bengals signed veteran tackle Eric Winston.  After Marshall Newhouse struggled at right tackle the Bengals chose to employ Winston as their starting right tackle.  Considering Winston’s lack of preparation, he had been sitting out all season, he performed admirably in the role and even managed to earn a solid grade from Pro Football Focus.  His acquisition turned into a blessing for the team and is likely why both Winston and the Bengals are considering his return in 2015.

Re-signing Eric Winston certainly wouldn’t be an imprudent move.  Andre Smith has built a reputation for himself as someone who can be an injury risk.  Smith hasn’t always prepared hard during the off-season, which has led to some of the concern surrounding him.  Winston’s retention would give the Bengals insurance at the position.  Winston has primarily started at right tackle and has expressed a willingness to occupy a reserve role.

Presumably in the upcoming draft, the Bengals will invest in at least one offensive tackle capable of starting in the future.  Winston could help mentor this young player from the sidelines acting as somewhat of a coach throughout the season.  That situation would benefit any young player tremendously, and presumably any young player would have respect for Winston who is the current president of the NFLPA.  Although I recently advocated for the Bengals selecting multiple tackles in the upcoming draft, both of these selections wouldn’t have to be early round players.  A second selection in the later rounds would have to fight his way onto the roster and could likely be retained on the practice squad.

Winston’s retention would also give the Bengals some extra flexibility in the upcoming draft.  Acting as the team’s swing tackle means the Bengals wouldn’t have to press to find offensive line depth within the draft and would have the freedom to select a player of a different position if the felt so inclined.  This draft may not offer a profusion of superstars, but it does seem to be a relatively deep draft, so quality players will be found in the later rounds; this is why having flexibility in the later rounds is key, so a team isn’t restricted by having to look for players to occupy specific positions.

Retaining Eric Winston in 2015 would be a safe and cheap move for the Bengals.  There isn’t much downside to the move except if they are really prioritizing youth along the line; also, his acquisition means Tanner Hawkinson will likely be pushed to the practice squad.  But with plenty of selections this year as well as presumably next year–Jermaine Gresham‘s assumed exit could offer a compensatory selection in 2016–pressing for linemen isn’t necessary.  Barring some serendipitous situation presenting itself to the Bengals, expect Eric Winston to be donning the stripes in 2015.

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