It’s beginning to sound like my dream of currently unemployed tackle Eric Winston finding a home with the San Diego Chargers is just about gone. Early in free agency after the Kansas City Chiefs released Winston after just one season with the club, I was very excited about the proposition of bringing him on board. More recently with the release of Jared Gaither by the Bolts, my focus again was on the addition of Winston to bring some more depth to the tackle position. If the latest reports are any indication however, the Chargers may not be all that anxious to add him to their depleted offensive line depth chart.
According to a report from UT San Diego, the two sides talked about the financial parameters of a potential deal and Winston said “but things kind of fell through.” It’s not like he is asking for an astronomical amount of cash for a tackle that is 29 years of age and realizes that teams aren’t going to overpay at this point in his career. Winston was scheduled to make $4.9 million this coming season with KC before he was released. He is only looking for a salary in the $3 to $4 million range for this upcoming season at this point.
Ever since arriving in the league, Winston has been one of the most down to earth players in the league. He was very outspoken during the lockout and has never been afraid to express his opinion. That is what makes his inability to find a new home all that much more baffling as he said: “I try to look at myself fairly. I don’t ever want to be one of those guys that looks at themselves and thinks they hung the moon. I still feel like I’m still playing at a pretty high level, and I feel I can contribute to a team.”
Feeling that way and actually doing it are two separate issues, but Winston hasn’t missed a start in six seasons so there clearly isn’t a question of durability involved. This has been a strange free agency period for high-caliber offensive linemen as Cincinnati Bengals’ right tackle Andre Smith remains unsigned after a terrific season in 2012 at just 26 years of age. His rumored demands are double what Winston says he is seeking, and unlike Winston, he is searching for that long-term lucrative deal to keep him financially secure for years to come.
Often times players are delusional when it comes to their value, but clearly that isn’t the case with Winston as he would go on to say: “I don’t think I’m asking for pie in the sky numbers. Middle of the road is fine. But, it’s also frustrating from the sense of, there’s still a lot of teams with a lot of money to spend, but it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to spend it.”
Even though the Chargers aren’t one of those teams with a lot of money to throw around, the team would have more than enough if they cut ties with Jeromey Clary to save $2 million and adding Winston at a reasonable salary of around $3.5 million. It’s not like there is any difference in age between the two as both are 29 years of age and the proven track record of Winston shows a much more efficient blocker with WAY fewer mind-numbing penalties. Don’t kill my dream of adding Eric Winston just yet, Chargers. Consider the man’s rationale and remember that he is very familiar with the zone-blocking scheme from his days with the Houston Texans.