On Tuesday, the Seattle Seahawks signed offensive tackle and NFLPA President Eric Winston. He will compete for the right tackle spot vacated when Breno Giacomini signed with the New York Jets. Currently, second-year player Michael Bowie and rookie Justin Britt are fighting for the job.
Winston’s one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals expired and he chose not to re-sign. He says his time without employment wasn’t due to a lack of interest, but he was looking for the right situation. Helping Seattle defend its Super Bowl title must be the right situation.
Winston has started 119 consecutive games with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona. Among active players, he’s behind only Eli Manning, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Philip Rivers in this category. He credits his durability to both working hard in the weight room and remaining flexible. “You’re inevitably going to get caught in a pile and if you’re not flexible something is going to pop,” he said.
At 30 years old, Winston is the fifth oldest player on a young team. His experience will benefit Bowie and Britt. In classic Pete Carroll style, the competition will make each player better. If Winston doesn’t win the job, he’ll be a valuable backup at both tackle positions.
In March, Winston was elected to lead the Player’s Union. Delegates from all 32 teams rewarded the courage and leadership he showed in 2012 with Kansas City. After quarterback Matt Cassel was knocked out of the game with a concussion, Chiefs fans cheered. After the game, Winston vented on them. “Boo him all you want; boo me all you want,” he said. “I think it’s sickening and disgusting.” When asked to apologize, he stood by his words.
It’s a good move for Seattle. If Winston earns his way into the starting lineup, the Seahawks have a reliable and professional protector for Russell Wilson. If he does not win the spot, it will be because Bowie or Britt stepped up and impressed Carroll. Either way, Seattle gains an experienced mentor for its young players.