The Kansas City Chiefs have been among the NFL's most active teams this offseason, and now their ever-changing roster has its latest casualty. According to Pro Football Talk's Twitter feed, the Chiefs released offensive tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday:
Chiefs are releasing RT Eric Winston, per league source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 7, 2013
Winston confirmed Pro Football Talk's report with a statement on his own Twitter feed:
Just wanted to confirm that I have been released. Even though it was an incredibly tough year on and off the field last year, I wouldn't— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) March 7, 2013
Trade the relationships I made in KC and the overall experience I had for anything. It was an honor to be a Chief ... tmi.me/MSlvJ— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) March 7, 2013
But the best in the future.... On to the next adventure!— Eric Winston (@ericwinston) March 7, 2013
A 29-year-old right tackle, Winston will instantly hit the free-agent market and be available to sign with any team. That could give Winston a leg up on his competition at the offensive-tackle spot, as the remaining free agents will have to wait until March 12 to sign elsewhere.
Though Winston was a starter for all 16 games during the 2012 season, his only in Kansas City, his release comes as little shock. He had a base salary of $4.9 million for 2013, per Spotrac, and many expect the Chiefs to draft Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel with the first overall pick in April's draft.
In fact, the possibility of Joeckel's arrival may already be creating waves in Kansas City. Branden Albert, whom Kansas City franchised on Monday (via NFL.com) and is the incumbent left tackle, commented on Winston's release and the possible arrival of Joeckel on his Twitter feed:
Speculation aside, the only thing we do know is that Winston will not return in 2013.
Considered one of the league's best right tackles during his six seasons with the Houston Texans, Winston was mostly replacement-level with the Chiefs. He committed a career-high eight penalties and allowed six sacks, per The Washington Post.
Winston wasn't exactly the biggest proponent of Kansas City's fans, either. After fans at Arrowhead Stadium cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel was injured, Winston ripped into the home crowd, calling their actions "sickening" (via ESPN).
So while Winston was honored to be a Chief, severing ties may wind up being mutually beneficial.