When Houston decided to release one of the best right tackles in the game Monday night, there wasn’t a better free agent fit for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs just needed to convince Eric Winston that his ideal fit resided in Kansas City as well.
After more than a day of discussions, GM Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel and offensive line coach Jack Bicknell were able to seal the deal. Winston agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract with the Chiefs on Saturday.
Winston’s arrival doesn’t just fill a need for the Chiefs. It patches a gaping hole. The Chiefs entered free agency with offensive tackle undoubtedly ranking as the club’s biggest need from both a talent and depth perspective. Prior to signing Winston, the Chiefs had just two tackles under contract for 2012 and neither had NFL experience playing on the right side.
With Winston, the Chiefs are getting a player who’s made 86 career starts and is still in his prime at 28-years old. Winston hasn’t missed a start since his rookie season in 2006. He was selected 66th overall by the Texans out of the University of Miami.
Winston caused an immediate a stir through his Twitter account (@ericwinston) Monday night when he Tweeted news of his unexpected release.
"Unfortunately I have bad news,” Winston wrote. “The Texans have decided to release me today. Although it is a surprise, I have nothing but positive memories and great relationships that I have built over the years. While my future seems uncertain, I am confident I will land on my feet.”
Chiefs fans immediately began the courting process through the social media website and Kansas City’s front office quickly reached out to Winston’s camp about scheduling a visit.
When released, Winston was in the fourth year of a five-year, $30 million contract. His release was surprising because most believed his $5.5 million cap hit was manageable for the Texans. In addition, Houston’s starting center Chris Myers and starting right guard Mike Brisiel were scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency.
In Kansas City, Winston becomes immediately becomes the favorite to start at right tackle.
Barry Richardson, who started 31 games at right tackle over the past two seasons, is currently an unrestricted free agent and the Chiefs have made no inclination regarding his possible return.