Austin On Dallas: Adding Eric Winston Would Be Instant Game Changer

At this point, only the insiders know the truth behind conflicting claims both supporting and debunking the Dallas Cowboys’ pursuit of Eric Winston.  The free agent offensive tackle was recently reported to be in contract talks with Dallas, as well as of little interest to the Cowboys.

Whatever conclusion turns out to be legit, there is no doubt in my mind Jerry Jones has a golden opportunity to completely change the complexion of his team by adding the accomplished veteran.

Sure they could stay put and select a solid rookie tackle like D.J. Fluker early in the draft.  But why risk it and spend a high pick there when interior o-line, defensive tackle, and safety also demand immediate help?

Not only would Dallas short-change another position of need, but they would also pin all hopes on prompt solid performance from the rookie.  Which is never a given considering the elevation in competition level, and increased size/speed of NFL defenders.

There are already several years of consistent production backing that Eric Winston is a high quality NFL tackle today.

Below is a deeper look into the new luxuries Winston would provide the Cowboys.



Winston is a 29 year old native Texan selected by the Houston Texans in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft.  Since assuming the starting right tackle spot for the final 7 games as a rookie, Winston has remained a solid NFL starter ever since.  He’s played over 1,000+ snaps in each of the last 5 seasons.

At 29, and a 7-year veteran, he’s young enough to be at the peak of his career, as well as experienced enough to offer the benefits of a seasoned veteran leading his fellow linemen. Not to mention, injuries have yet to play any negative factor in his professional career.



Comparing the PFF grades and recent performance stats of Eric Winston and Doug Free clearly displays the vast production superiority of Winston.  Numbers marked in red below represent the lesser result between the two players.




Naturally the overall line potential will increase due to the rise in production at right tackle with Winston.  However, the level in which he can elevate the entire line as a unit is vast.

With a solid starter now at right tackle, there are 2 experienced back-ups for the tackle spots in Doug Free and Jermey Parnell.  Assuming Free accepts a pay cut and remains a Cowboy.

Along with that, eliminating tackle from draft contention will allow the Cowboys to pick up a solid starting interior lineman in the first 2 rounds without sacrificing another position.

Any of the following 4 rookies could fill a huge hole in the interior line…Chance Warmack (1st), Jonathan Cooper (1st), Larry Warford (2nd), or Barrett Jones (2nd).

Now in Week 1, Dallas would trot out a more experienced Tyron Smith at LT, a talented rookie at guard, and solid starter with Winston at RT.  The revamped o-line would feature 3 very talented players, instead of the 1 Dallas is currently boasting.

That would leave only the center and opposite guard starting roles up for grabs between Phil Costa, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings, Ron Leary, and Kevin Kowalski.

Within that group of 5 hungry players, I’m sure Dallas could pair the 2 winners with the other 3 solid starters and end up with a much improved unit.  They’d also have a seasoned veteran in Winston helping guide the new rookie guard next to him.



Eric Winston returning home to Texas and wearing the star is a huge win-win anyway you slice it.  There is little chance it wouldn’t help Dallas tremendously with protecting Romo, running the ball more effectively, and turning the corner as a legitimate chain-moving offense.

At the same time, Dallas could use 2 of their top 3 draft picks on solidifying the starting defense (DT, safety), without concern of abandoning another offensive line need outside the one high pick used at guard.

Not to mention, Tyron Smith (22), the rookie guard, and Eric Winston (29) would all be starting together along the Cowboys’ o-line for 3 years at minimum.

This bold free agent addition could legitimately change the complexion of the Dallas offensive line for years to come.

Add another solid center/guard in the 2014 off-season, and it’s possible for Dallas to quickly possess a dominant, Top-10 caliber group.  The implications of this decision stretch far beyond what most are considering.  I just hope Jerry Jones and Cowboys’ management are taking this one seriously and finally glimpsing a ray of offensive line sanity.








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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Doug Free Eric Winston Free Agency

  • Troy Spurlock

    We ll see

  • Juanito Juanito

    hope wil work, sign winston cowboys

  • P.j. Doyle

    I agree with you 100%!

  • ctcowboy1968

    What if both Cooper and Warmack are gone by 18? Fluker would be the next best pick for Dallas. Not that your idea isn’t a very good one. With Winston, if the two top guards are gone, then we could trade back and get Warford late in the first round.
    We can thank Mara of the Giants for these cap struggles and his puppet commissioner.

    • ‘mericas_team2013

      If cooper and warmack are gone, its gotta be Vaccaro, if he’s gone then Richardson, if he’s gone then I would either trade down if its an option or maybe take Fluker. I really don’t see Fluker as an option at 18 still too early for him in my humble opinion.

      • ctcowboy1968

        I hear you. I am not for Vaccaro just because the OL is the highest priority. Fluker won’t go past the Bengals pick at 21. So it’s not that much of a reach. Unfortunately, Warford won’t be around for our 2nd pick. I like Richardson at 18 too.

  • BradAustin

    I agree Fluker is a tad too high at 18 for my tastes. I’d hate to see guard, safety, and DT fall by the wayside with a bit of a reach tackle that high. IMO, the best tackles (above Fluker), Warmack, Cooper, and Vaccaro will be gone at 18. Cooper would have likely been there but he performed so well at the combine that I have to think some team is salivating over him.

    If all those are gone at 18, I’d go with DT (if a top flight guy has slipped). Then I would see what I could get in the 2nd at guard. I truly believe guard must be addressed in the top 2 rounds and nab a probable Day 1 starter. Our interior o-line is a weak mess. It’s killing Romo’s inside pocket too often, and also limiting anything Murray can do between the tackles.

    If no stud DT is available at 18 along with the best tackles, Warmack, Cooper, and Vaccaro missing, I’d have no problem trading back for Warford. Honestly, after much film study, I have Warford above Cooper in my on-field analysis. Warmack is power, Cooper is quickness/agility, but Warford has a heavy dose of both. The fact that he didn’t allow a sack in the SEC over his entire Senior season is mind-boggling to me.

    BTW, great comments guys, appreciate it.

  • Paul A. Thompson

    Winston — same guy the last two teams have released? Hmmm …