All the hoopla on Monday revolved around the situation with Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. That doesn’t mean it was the only important move to come out of the weekend that was in the NFL. Also in the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs bolstered their offensive line by signing offensive tackle Eric Winston to a four-year, $22 million deal.
Winston seemed to be a fairly substantial piece of the Texans’ foundation and the team made a playoff run this season. But Houston cut ties with the Miami product do to salary cap issues, opening the door for Kansas City to court him. Winston says the injury-riddled Chiefs — who barely missed out on the playoffs — are on the same track as Houston was in 2010 before breaking out this last season.
Eric Winston joined WHB in Kansas City with The Program to discuss why he chose Kansas City, what he saw in the Chiefs’ roster, how the team compares to the 2010 Texans, the shock of being released and how heavily the Chiefs then came after him.
Once you knew it was time to find a new home, what drew you to Kansas City?:
“Honestly, going into this, I didn’t know a lot about them. I hadn’t done a lot of research. Obviously this all happened very abruptly. It was just a situation where I got more and more familiar with the team and with the roster and the coaching staff and everybody involved, the more and more I liked it. Obviously getting there and getting to spend a couple days in Kansas City and getting a feel for what kind of city it’s like and the people there, it just seemed like a natural fit.”
You mentioned the roster. Does that mean you think this team has the group to compete?:
“Yeah, you know, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think that was the truth. I’ve played too much and been around the block too much to spend these years not winning. I wanted to go somewhere I could win. … The Chiefs season last year was very similar to the Texans’ season in 2010 where you thought you had a lot of things in place, you thought you had a lot of guys that were ready to go and ready to play. For whatever reason, injuries struck and bad things happened and all of the sudden you’re a couple plays away and you’re saying, ‘What if?'”
More on comparing the ’11 Chiefs to the ’10 Texans:
“Jamaal Charles getting hurt, Cassel getting hurt, Moeaki getting hurt, Berry getting hurt, everybody going down and yet they’re still a game away. And I remember watching that game and they were a couple plays away. … It shows you how resilient these guys are, and I think in a 16-game season when you’ve got to go through the ups and downs that the season is, you better have some resiliency. … Now it’s about getting all those guys back.”
Did you have any inkling that you’d be released?:
“I didn’t. I thought it was a very, very, very slim possibility. Sometimes I can be a little bit of a pessimist, I guess, even though I try not to be. I looked at the whole situation and I said, ‘Well, I think if we were in a worse situation cap-wise, maybe the Texans would have.’ … I think we’re looking at it now, a week or 10 days into free agency, and I think you’re starting to see some teams do things that, man, you kind of say, ‘Wow, I didn’t think they were in that bad a situation.’ I guess the Texans were. I’ve got to take their word at it.”
Were the Chiefs calling you pretty quickly afterward?:
“Yeah, they really were. They did everything I think they could to let me know that they wanted me, that I was important to them, that it was important for me to visit there and to hear them and see them. … It made me, A, want to take the visit, and then once I got there, it opened me up to the city of Kansas City, the fans and just the organization as a whole.”