Eric Winston has found another job. As newly elected president of the NFL Players Association, he must guard the interests of nearly 1,700 professional football players.

The only thing missing is a quarterback for Winston to protect every Sunday afternoon, preferably the one in Arizona.

"I can't say there have been super-positive talks or anything like that," said Winston, a free agent who started all 16 games for the Cardinals last season. "It doesn't seem like anything is being done. I'd still love to come back to Arizona. I love the guys in the locker room, love the city, and I think the team will be really good with or without me. They're ready to have a special run out there.

"At the same time, it is what it is. I'm looking to get on a team as soon as possible, hopefully before the draft. I know I still have some miles left on the tires, and I'm looking to burn them off."

Winston won't shut the door on an encore season in Arizona, but he's not exactly bursting with optimism. The Cardinals need to find out what they have in right tackle Bobby Massie, who is entering his crucial third season in the NFL. Bradley Sowell likely will be slotted as a backup at the position, while the Cardinals might find another tackle in the upcoming draft.

That could leave Winston scrambling to find another team for a second consecutive off-season.

This much is certain: His veteran experience (he's started 119 consecutive NFL games), his imposing stature and his leadership skills will certainly benefit the NFLPA. Even though a new collective-bargaining agreement guarantees labor peace through the 2022 season, there are many issues ahead.

For starters, the NFL is seeking another growth spurt. It wants to be in the same financial neighborhood as Nike and McDonalds. It wants to increase annual revenue from $10 billion to $25 billion by 2027.

The naked ambition is breathtaking, especially with a limited inventory of games, at a time when Winston is adamantly opposed to an 18-game schedule.

"I haven't heard one player ever come up to me and say, 'Man, Eric, if we can do anything, let's play two extra games at the end of the season because those 16 weren't grueling enough,' " Winston said. "We didn't negotiate on that in 2009 and we won't negotiate on that now. As a player, you shouldn't have to negotiate for your health and safety.

"Both owners and players have a vested interest in growing the pie as big as we can. I think what separates us is they have a view on how to do it, and we have certain issues we want to hold true to as well. And health and safety is at the forefront of everyone's minds. It's hard to look at the research and the data and not be concerned as a player."

Among Winston's other objectives is to spread "financial literacy" throughout his ranks so players can transition easily to life outside of football.

"I want us to take advantage of what's in this CBA," Winston said. "We have a longer off-season that should allow guys to go back to college and finish their degrees or continue their education. Maybe some sort of internship or job shadow, things that will help players prepare for their next career. And part of that includes understanding simple finances."