Houston Texans: Should the Team Bring Back Eric Winston or Vonta Leach?

By Mike Kerns
Thomas Campbell – USA TODAY Sports

As the headline suggests, a topic of heated debate between Houston Texans fans this offseason has been over if the team should look to free up some money to bring back two former fan favorites in Eric Winston and Vonta Leach. Upon each of their releases, a connection was made lumping the team in with interest in their services. But would bringing back either be a good idea?

Leach was a guy the Texans never wanted to let go of. He received a large, multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens that they weren’t willing to match, so there was no hard feelings when he left. So much so, in fact, Leach was one of the first ones to come out and say that he’d love a Houston reunion. Speaking through his agent, the following statement was made:

“The most logical fit and the smoothest transition to another team would be Houston because he’s already been there. He understands the coaches, the scheme.  He’s worked with Arian Foster and the rest of the offensive line, so it would be a very smooth transition to go back to Houston.”

This seemed like a perfect scenario for the Texans if you take away the fact that they already brought in Greg Jones over the offseason to fill the void Leach left two years ago. However, those close to the team say that mutual interest is there and sincere.

Leach would have to take a bare bones minimum type deal to return to the Texans and even then, I feel like this is something they’re doing just to help him get a better deal elsewhere. Regardless of what team officials say, there isn’t room for two fullbacks on this roster and they don’t want to be known as the type of team that signs a guy and gets rid of him for reasons like this. I like Leach as a player, but this team has money issues that need to be addressed elsewhere.

As far as Winston goes, this one seems to be generating the biggest fan disagreement. Some are adamant to bring him back, while others want to let the young guys continue to grow at the right tackle position. His break with the team wasn’t as smooth as the one Leach had, even if Winston is too professional to come out and blast them for the way it was handled. But is a return even possible?

Winston is still on the market because he refuses to lower his asking price. But as camp draws nearer, if he intends to play at this level again, he may have to take a one-year deal somewhere and hope for better things in 2014. If that happens, and he plays for a lesser amount, Houston seems to be a place for him. If the team is really about going for it all this year, a one-year deal to re-solidify the right side of the line while the rookies get another year of learning in isn’t something I’d be opposed to.

I’m not going to restart the Derek Newton war my offensive line piece did the other day, but in short, I think Winston would be an upgrade over him and be sufficient insurance after the surgery Newton had over the offseason. I’d support bringing him in on a cheap one-year deal. The Texans are up against it on the cap, but they can solve these issues with an extension/restructure with Antonio Smith very easily. So that excuse is becoming just that, an excuse.

In the end, I feel that the Miami Dolphins will buckle on their stance and pick up both guys.  Jeff Ireland has spent like a drunk sailor with daddy’s checkbook all offseason and there’s no reason to believe he’ll stop now. But if it was my choice, I’d say yes to Winston, no to Leach. Even though I believe neither of them will take less money just to play for Houston again.


Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also subscribe to his Texans podcast on iTunes.

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