Despite blossoming into a serviceable right tackle that has stood out with his grit and durability in recent years, Eric Winston has experienced the hard realities of the business-side of the NFL in the past two offseasons.
When the Kansas City Chiefs released Winston on Wednesday, it marked the second time in as many years that the seven-year veteran had been cut for salary cap purposes. In 2012, the cap-strapped Texans released Winston after he had started more than 85 games over a six-year period.
The move saved the Chiefs roughly $3.5 million for 2013. Kansas City was 2-14 last season, earning the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft for the first time in franchise history.
"Even though it was an incredibly tough year on and off the field last year, I wouldn't trade the relationships I made in KC and the overall experience I had for anything,” Winston wrote on his Twitter account. “It was an honor to be a Chief and I wish them nothing but the best in the future. ... On to the next adventure!"
The next adventure could be a return to Houston or possibly a new home in Philadelphia. Both the Texans and Eagles have expressed interest in signing the former University of Miami player, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
With Winston in Kansas City, Houston's zone running attack took a hit. Derek Newton, a second-year lineman from Arkansas State, received the second-lowest run blocking grade for the season among starting right tackles by Pro Football Focus. The Texans ranked 23rd on runs toward the right sideline (4.65 yards per carry), according to NFLGSIS.com. Pro Football Focus ranked Winston fifth among right tackles in run blocking.
The Eagles were besieged by a rash of injuries on the offensive line. At one point in mid-November, Michael Vick played behind a line that featured one opening week starter -- left guard Evan Mathis.
Starting right tackle Todd Herremans went on IR in November after suffering a right foot injury team trainers described as “extremely rare.” Herremans suffered a dislocated cuboid bone, as well as a slight fracture of his fourth metetarsal.
Herremans has four years remaining on a five-year, $27.1 million contract. Winston might have to sign for a reduced rate in order to join the Eagles or Texans. Both teams have relatively little cap space.
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