October 14, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Winston (74) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Winston Rumors: Why the Dallas Cowboys need to pull the trigger.

Monday, rumors began to surface around the NFL that The Dallas Cowboys and Eric Winston have “mutual interest.” Then after some pundits out of DFW decided to squash those, it was then reported The Dallas Cowboys are officially asking Doug Free to take a pay-cut. The question that remains is whether the pay-cut is delegated toward signing Eric Winston. Folks, this is a no brainer…sign this man.

Eric Winston was selected in the 3rd Round of the 2006 NFL Draft by The Houston Texans. He currently measures at 6’7 and 308lbs. In his career he has started 103 games out of 108 played. In recent memory he has been donning a Kansas City Chief helmet, but was recently let go due to Salary Cap reasons. Winston has been a solid player since he started with the Texans and Kansas City adored him as well, but couldn’t keep him at his current salary and afford their now franchise-tagged Left Tackle. He also garnered attention for his absolute disgusted feeling towards Chief’s fans for their cheering of Matt Cassel’s injury during a game last season.

Although everything is just speculation regarding these reports, I trust that this organization’s interest is very well alive, who wouldn’t be interested? Doug Free’s cap hit is $10 million, frankly that is too high for his performance over the past 2 years. Signs point to Free most likely becoming a post June 1st cut. One close source has said that Free is not willing to take a pay cut, and likely would be released if refusing to do-so.  If that occurs and there is no Right Tackle on this Roster besides Parnell, which would mean Trouble in Big D. That starts with a T that rhymes with P and that stands for Parnell. Jeremy Parnell is a swing tackle and relying on him to start is premature. If this happens then most certainly The Draft will begin with someone like D.J. Fluker from Alabama.

The Winston rumors have fizzled since Monday with no reports from ESPN Dallas and refutes by Bryan Broaddus and DallasCowboys.com writers. The Dallas Cowboys need to find a way to sign Eric Winston. He is most definitely a RKG that would set the Cowboys up for their Draft. If this can come to fruition, then with Winston as a sure fire starter, and Parnell backing him up; The Right Tackle position becomes a major lift for the running game of this team. Winston, according to ProFootballFocus.com ranked as the 6th best Tackle in the league. Winston, unlike Free plays with power that allows him to block hard on his man and give half-backs ability to use him as an anchor. Winston, Clabo, and Andre Smith are still available due to the lack of interest for Right Tackles this offseason. Eric Winston fits this team better than the latter; because he is more consistent than Clabo and younger might I add. Plus with the Zone block scheme this Offense has ran under Garrett he has more burst than Smith, and would cost less too.

Tony Romo hasn’t experienced as much issues with getting away from edge-rushers, but Winston would be more help to Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray because he could lift the stagnant running game. By getting an Eric Winston and addressing the guard position in the upcoming draft, this team could gain confidence in knowing they have some guys that can protect Tony and open lanes up for Murray. Eric Winston could be had at $3 million to $4 million per season which is a bit high; however if he is still available after the Draft that price may come down.    This would be a win-win signing for both parties and it’s not as if it would be a progress stopper for anyone.

The Dallas Cowboys must address this Offensive Line; they cannot be saying to themselves this unit will be better due to another offseason of continuity. This was arguably the worst unit all season; in fact I would love to see the argument against that statement. Many have said “The Offensive Line got better toward the end of the season.” Going from 29th to 25th doesn’t cut it. There needs to be at least 2 different starters on this unit in 2013. Good Teams don’t keep holding on to bad players. Nate Livings is not the answer at Left Guard, It would be better to keep Bernadeau because he at least has versatility to compete at Center and Guard.

The Dallas Cowboys owe this team a chance to win in double digits and compete for a championship. Eric Winston could step in and fill his role with confidence and would be an excellent signing. Can The Dallas Cowboys stop putting Band-Aids where stitches are needed? Can this organization make a commitment to their quarterback who made the biggest commitment he could to his team? The trenches are where Championships are won, if they want another Lombardi Trophy in Dallas, then start with the weakest link on the team. Sign Eric Winston, Draft a Guard in the 1st or 2nd Round and shore up enough protection for Tony Romo to avoid another 36 sack, 19 interception, win and in, 8-8 season. It’s time to re-write this team’s story of inconsistency and heartbreak.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Doug Free Eric Winston Offensive Line Tony Romo

  • Dave Woodard

    Im with you on Winston! I would try to land Johnson in the draft if he fallas to say 15 – 16. If not, I would totally agree!! Signing him would allow you to trade down and pick up an extra 2nd rounder if Cooper, Warmack, Vaccaro are gone! So Id take Lane if I could, if not then Id operate the draft under the assumption I was going to Sign Winston after the draft ends!

    • Michael Sisemore

      I believe they will wait til post draft to sign any FA’s, but don’t be surprised if they don’t get a tackle and work diligently to get Winston or Clabo. Drafting Guard should be more important than tackle though.

  • billy

    great article. if winstons as good as you say he is then i hope they sign him. they are in a bad fix with free but theres really no way out. hes either going to cost them this year or next year its heir choice which one i guess. i think free is wanting to take the money and run. i think hes played all the football he ever wants to. hes ready to quit he just needs the team to cut him so he can walk away well off. jerry has made a lot of personnel mistakes and cost his team dearly with his bad drafts and trades but other than over paying free its not jerrys fault free wants to take his money and run

    • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

      I wouldn’t blame Free if he took his money and left. He will profit greatly from a general manager who doesn’t know how to evaluate players and will be laughing about it all the way out the gate.

      • Michael Sisemore

        Agree and disagree here, It has been widely reported by many inside guys in Big D that Jerry’s biggest fault is him listening to the last guy who gets to him, The Draft the past few years have been better because Garrett is better at evaluating talent than Wade was. Stephen Jones’ bigger role has been a blessing as of late, he calms his father when necessary.

  • Juanito Juanito

    2 mill a year for doug free

    • Michael Sisemore

      10 mill on the books this year is his cap hit, if you are referring to 2 mill for Winston and saying he is another Free, you are sadly mistaken, He isn’t all world but he’s better than Free.

  • jrcowboy49

    Do we have the cap room to sign Winston and pay our draftees without cutting Doug Free or reducing his salary? And if a June 1 designated cut is required, Winston will not be available.

    • Michael Sisemore

      They haven’t turned in some of their restructured contracts yet, but you can still sign him with money they have now and push signing bonus aka guaranteed money until post June 1.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    I have also heard that Winston is not as good as this article would suggest. If he is that good then he wouldn’t be on the street. I have no problem with signing him but hopefully they will not over pay because of all of the hype.

    • Michael Sisemore

      Winston isn’t the best tackle in the league but all 3 FA’s on the market right now are significantly better than Doug Free, why? Because they play with power, Free is too finesse to play as the power run blocker that a Right Tackle makes his money doing. Hype or not gimme either of the 3 FA’s over Free.