This time last year, the Houston Texans released Eric Winston as a cap casualty. He signed for big money in Kansas City (4 years, $22 million) to solidify their right tackle position. He was released today in a surprise cost-cutting measure and enters the market as a hot target for a right tackle needy team like the Raiders.
When the Texans cut Winston last offseason, he seemed like a perfect choice for the Raiders. At the time, I pinpointed three Texans who I could see joining the Raiders - Winston, Mike Brisiel, and Matt Leinart. Brisiel and Leinart did end up signing with the Raiders but they couldn't afford Winston so he went to Kansas City instead. Now the Raiders have a second chance at signing him.
Winston performed considerably well in the Texans zone blocking scheme as well as protecting the edge of the line for Matt Schaub who developed into a Pro Bowl quarterback with the help of Winston's protection. Not to mention Arian Foster running for over 2800 yards with two Pro Bowls and first team All Pro in 2010 and 2011 behind that strong athletic Texans line.
He played well in Kansas City too. So much so that Chiefs writers, along with most everyone else, was completely taken by surprise by his cutting. It is being considered just part of the turnover that is expected with a new regime - something with which the Raiders have very recent experience.
The 5-year stalwart starting tackle came as advertised for the Chiefs and shored up their glaring Right Tackle issues. He allowed just three sacks all season long.
Last season with the Chiefs, he was most known for his comments following a Chiefs game in which he was extremely angry at Chiefs fans for cheering when Matt Cassel left the game with a concussion. He said the Chiefs fans were "sickening and disgusting" and going on to say he's "never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there." That sounds like a guy who might just enjoy facing those same Chiefs fans as the opposition twice a season.
If he joined the Raiders, he would also be placed alongside his former Houston linemate, Mike Brisiel. Winston had great things to say about Brisiel as the guy who lined up immediately to his left for most of the previous four seasons in Houston. And now that Brisiel has restructured his contract, he is sure to remain in Oakland next season as well.
Reggie McKenzie has also said injury history is important to him and Winston has never missed a game due to injury. In fact, he has started every single game that past six seasons and a total of 103 straight starts dating back to midway through his rookie year. It doesn't get much more dependable than that.
There are plenty of reasons for Winston to come to the Raiders and plenty of reasons for the Raiders to be interested in him. Let's see if this time they can make it happen.