When news broke in the NFL tonight that offensive tackle Eric Winston was released by the Kansas City Chiefs, all of social media became abuzz with speculation. When Winston was signed a year ago by the Chiefs, he was widely regarded as the top right tackle in the entire league. But as I stated at the time, his contract was big for a right tackle prospect, and with a changing of the guard in Kansas City, one of the goals has to be to rein in some of the salaries. Unfortunately, Winston got caught up in that.
It wasn’t long after the news broke that I got text messages, emails, tweets and Facebook messages asking if the Pittsburgh Steelers should consider bringing in Winston. Rather than respond to all of them individually and participate with the ongoing debate that would ensue, here’s what I think. The answer is no, the Steelers should not try and sign Winston.
It’s not that Winston isn’t a good player because he is. His play was down a little last year, but that had as much to do with the rest of his line as anything else. But having said that, I’m not sure he is better than the third or fourth best tackle out there. Even with that, he’s going to command plenty of money, more money than the Steelers should pony up for a player like Winston. This team is on a tight budget, so I shudder at the notion of his cost.
But there’s a bigger reason. These Steelers have committed two high draft picks on offensive tackles the past two years. Tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams need reps. They need to be on the field and getting better. Both have tremendous potential and upside, and should be able to form a tandem that plays the edges for a long time.
You bring in Winston to plug in on the right and you immediately give a vote of no confidence to one of these young men. That’s no good for the team. If they want to bring in a veteran to provide depth, I want to see what these young men can do before writing them off, which is what signing Winston would do.