Eric Winston Cut: Texans Release Their Right Tackle, FB Vickers, and QB Leinart

James DoubleUAnalyst IMarch 12, 2012

Gone?Handout/Getty Images

I just heard on Sports Radio 610 that it's been reported just minutes ago by Pro Football Talk that Eric Winston, longtime right tackle for the Houston Texans and Texans draftee, that Winston wrote on his Twitter account that he'd been cut from the team.

This is incredible.

And I mean that in the literal sense of "unbelievable" and not in any good way.

This is the man who was just ranked the #1 best right tackle in the NFL last year in Bleacher Report's own B/R NFL 1,000.

The O-Line of this team has been a huge part of this team's success for years, and I am stunned that any member of that group would be leaving.

This brings up a couple questions:

1) Does this mean that Mario Williams is staying? Does the money now off the books mean that the Texans can afford to keep their star pass rusher?

2) Who will be the tackle going forward? (Currently on the roster are Rashad Butler, who ended the year on IR, and rookie Derek Newton.) What will this mean for Matt Schaub, Arian Foster (who just signed his first big contract) and Ben Tate?

3) Why is he being released? Was he unwilling or unable to restructure his deal to help the team retain other players, like center Chris Myers (also ranked #1 by B/R 1,000)?

As of right now the move is not official yet.

Update: John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that it's true, and has spoken with Winston.

Winston apparently is surprised and the Texans didn't want to "insult" him by asking him to take a pay cut, which seems strange considering many such restructured deals would be needed to return all the current free agents, and they're likely asking several players to do the same. With the team's success last year, and potential this year, doing anything to weaken the O-Line seems strange.

Update 2: Adam Schefter reports on Twitter that Matt Leinart has been released as well.

Update 3: John McClain reports on his Twitter that Lawrence Vickers is the latest cut, and also (strangely) that the Texans are less than $1M under the cap; this after saving near $10M of cap space by cutting Winston and restructuring Johnson. Could this mean that they managed to get Mario under contract? Or was this not counting the unofficial changes we believe they've just made?

Update 4: It's official now.