Most fans were shocked today when the Texans cut Eric Winston loose. I’ll say this – I’m shocked they actually went through with the move. I was stunned, because, Winston was absolutely still a very effective and above-average NFL right tackle. His run-blocking was still very good to excellent, but his pass protection has been a bit of an issue the last couple of years. On a bad team that doesn’t spend a lot of money on players, you wouldn’t even CONSIDER cutting Eric Winston – but the Texans aren’t a bad team. They are a legitimate AFC title contender with loads of talent that requires loads of cash to maintain.
So what – he still was part of a unit that was largely thought to be the best in the NFL, right? Right. And though he wasn’t “elite,” you obviously can’t have great players at every position. This is true, but you also can’t have too many guys on your roster who aren’t playing up to the money they are making. The Texans have a few, and though Winston isn’t GROSSLY under-performing, he was set to make $5.5 million in 2012. For every guy on your team who’s not playing up to their contract, you have to have X amount of players who are playing under their contract.
All that said – I am surprised that the Texans are messing with the continuity of the offensive line, which is the biggest strength on the team. However, they may have also figured out that there was no way they could actually keep the continuity of the line, and decided that keeping center Chris Myers and/or guard Mike Brisiel was more vital (and more cost-effective?) than keeping Winston.
There’s also the possibility that the Texans approached Winston about restructuring his contract, and Winston (and when I say Winston, I mean his agent Drew Rosenhaus) told the Texans to get bent. The story is out there that “the Texans didn’t want to insult him by asking him to take a paycut.” Mmm, maybe. You just never know with the NFL. It’s cutthroat, and even more so when you’re not a perennial doormat.
Backup QB Matt Leinart was also cut (or will be cut Tuesday depending on who you believe), which of course was always going to happen due to the emergence of T.J. Yates.