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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Eric Winston would be all about options

By Mike Sando

New Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly praised the team's offensive line this offseason, defending it from criticism he considered outdated.



That doesn't mean the Cardinals are content at the position.

Tackle Eric Winston, who played 100 percent of the snaps for Kansas City last season and graded out positively as both a run and pass blocker in a Pro Football Focus review, was close to a contract agreement with Arizona on Wednesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.

Winston had been a mainstay player along the Houston Texans' offensive line until the team released him last offseason in a move widely framed as salary-related. Winston, 29, has not missed a snap in four of his past five seasons.

Adding Winston would give the Cardinals additional options at a position where Bobby Massie showed promise as a rookie in 2012. The more options the Cardinals have, the tougher time we'll have projecting with accuracy the starting five for the regular season. That's a good thing until the team has established quality starters across the front.

I can't find any downside to adding Winston at a reasonable rate (and let's face it, players unsigned at this stage generally aren't going to sign for significant sums). Levi Brown is the only other veteran tackle on the Cardinals' roster.

Matt Williamson, who scouts the NFL for ESPN.com, has referred to Winston as a quality player best suited for teams using zone-blocking tactics. He called Winston best at zone blocking in the run game, but he did not consider Winston to be a liability in protection.

Arians has not, to my knowledge, committed to a single style of blocking, but I would expect the team to use more zone-blocking tactics. That will be something to investigate during training camp, particularly if Winston signs with the team.