Bengals announce re-signing of Winston; waive Wright; Barwin, LB visit; Burkhead looking
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The Bengals on Monday announced they have re-signed veteran offensive lineman Eric Winston and waived injury-plagued wide receiver James Wright.
Winston, who became an unrestricted free agent on Thursday, had tweeted on Friday that he was returning to the Bengals. He signed a one-year contract for an unknown amount. Last year he played for $985,000 with an $80,000 signing bonus and a $25,000 workout bonus for a total $1.09 million. He played in 16 games last season with two starts, both at right tackle in games 12 and 13. He has also been a backup at guard.
The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Winston is a 12th-year NFL player. He joined the Bengals late in 2014 and has been on the roster for the last two full seasons. He has 128 career NFL starts (including postseason) and has played 34 Bengals games, with seven starts.
“Eric has played well for us and has been a great veteran for our team chemistry,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said in a statement. “We know he will give us another excellent contribution in 2017.”
The Bengals lost starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth to the Los Angeles Rams and starting right Kevin Zeitler to the Cleveland Browns.
Winston can also play guard so he does provide some depth.
The Bengals will likely add a guard and possibly a tackle in the the draft, which will take place late next month.
As for Wright he came back in 2016 after missing the entire 2015 season following micro-fracture knee surgery after injuring his knee late in his rookie season in 2014. He was forced to miss practice at least once a week during the 2016 season to rest the knee and also battled hamstring issues as well.
He played in 13 games in 2016 with two starts and finished with 13 receptions for 106 yards and no touchdowns.
Wright was a 2014 seventh-round draft selection out of LSU and played in 24 games in his three-year Bengals career. He had 18 receptions for 197 yards during that time, as well as 16 total tackles on special teams.
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There are reports that former University of Cincinnati standout Connor Barwin and free agent linebacker Keenan Robinson are visiting the Bengals.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reported Barwin is meeting with the team on Monday.
The 30-year-old defensive end/outside linebacker was recently released by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played the last four seasons with the Eagles after spending his first four seasons with the Houston Texans. He has 50.5 career quarterback sacks, including 14.5 in 2014 when he was selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Bengals are in need of pass rushing help due to the lack of productivity of veteran Michael Johnson or any specialists the Bengals tried to use, including Margus Hunt, Will Clarke and Wallace Gilberry.
Hunt and Gilberry are also unrestricted free agents.
Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that Robinson is also visiting with the Bengals on Monday.
Robinson is a four-year veteran who played last season with the New York Giants after spending his first three seasons with the Washington Redskins.
This past season he played 16 games, including six starts, and 52 tackles and seven passes defended. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Robinson can play middle linebacker, which is a position the Bengals are seeking an upgrade after veteran Rey Maualuga had a very unproductive 2016 season. It's likely the Bengals will also address the position in the draft.
Robinson was a fourth-round draft pick of the Redskins out of Texas in 2012. He played only 11 games with no starts his rookie season and then missed the 2013 season. He started all 13 games he played at middle linebacker in 2014, making 71 tackles and started eight of 12 games he played in 2014 and had just 35 tackles.
It's possible the Bengals try to re-sign Burkhead, but the team still has Jeremy Hill entering the final year of his rookie contract and has significant money sunk into Giovani Bernard, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL.
The Bengals may also draft a running back.
The Denver Broncos officially announced the signing of defensive tackle Domata Peko. It was reported on Saturday that the 12-year veteran was going to sign with Denver. He started all 102 regular-season games for the Bengals over the last seven seasons.