Miami Dolphins Free Agency 2012: Why Signing Eric Winston Is a Must

Cooper AllenAnalyst IIMarch 13, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Eric Winston of the Houston Texans poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Free agency is now under way, and we have already seen the Miami Dolphins make their first move–acquiring two third-round draft picks for No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall.

This seems like a pretty bad move for Miami at first glance. However, as several people have already reported, this may be the Dolphins playing their last card in an attempt to sign both Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne.

Aside from the speculation, both Manning and Wayne have been pretty low-key, while others, such as Pierre Garcon and Vincent Jackson, are already on the move.

Despite having one of the best tackles in the game in Jake Long and solid, young center in Mike Pouncey, the right side of Miami’s line is not exactly the greatest.

Many (myself included) have looked at Riley Reiff out of Iowa as a solution to the right side of the line as he will likely still be on the board when it is Miami’s turn to pick.

With that being said, the Dolphins could be looking somewhere else come late April as they are reportedly meeting with former Houston Texans right tackle Eric Winston.

This almost seems too good to be true as Winston is one of the best—if not the best—right tackle in the game and is by far the best tackle available in free agency.

The 28-year-old has started in all 16 games for the Texans in each of the past five seasons, so injury is not something that they would have to worry about too much.

He has been a key part of a Houston offensive line that tied for 12th in the league in sacks allowed, had the eighth least amount of quarterback hits and has had arguably the best rushing attack in professional football over the past two seasons.

Miami has already traded Brandon Marshall and signing Eric Winston would be considered part two of the “bring Wayne and Manning to Miami” plan.

Adding a talent like Winston to the Dolphins offensive line would give them something better than what both the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos have to offer and could ultimately be the reason that Peyton Manning winds up in South Beach.

For those wondering, the salary cap should not be much of an issue as players already on the roster would likely follow suit with other players around the league who are taking pay cuts or “restructuring” their contracts in order to clear cap space.

Winston is a huge upgrade over current right tackle Marc Colombo and adding him to the roster would likely give Miami one of the best offensive lines in the league.

It would also allow them to focus on the defensive side of the ball in the draft which is great considering that players like Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw will probably still be on the board at No. 8.

Eric Winston is a player that the Miami Dolphins must sign and if they are able to add him, Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne to the roster, you should be racing to Vegas to put money on the Miami Dolphins while their Super Bowl odds are still low.