On the surface, Eric Winston seems like a perfect fit for the Dolphins.
* He’s an athletic right tackle that fits well in a zone blocking scheme, which is exactly what the Dolphins need now after losing Jake Long to the Rams (Jonathan Martin would move to the left side).
* He’s 29, has started in 96 straight games and can fill the leadership void created by Long’s departure.
* He likes the area, having starred at the University of Miami in college.
* He knows the team well – offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his OC for his first two NFL seasons in Houston, and his brother, Matt, is a Dolphins scout.
* He still seems to have something left in the tank – Pro Football Focus ranked him as the ninth-best right tackle in the NFL last season with the Chiefs after allowing just three sacks.
* He won’t be expensive. The Dolphins had put some money aside for Long, and can now use some of that – not even all of it – on Winston.
And to take it a step further, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said on WSVN Channel 7 last night that Winston wants to be here.
“Eric would really like to play for the Miami Dolphins,” Rosenhaus said. “What a terrific fit.”
And yet here we are, two weeks into free agency, and Winston is still available, and the Dolphins still don’t have a right tackle.
“It’s a fluid situation,” Rosenhaus said. “I can’t really get into a lot of the details as far as the Dolphins. I don’t want to speak for them.”
Without knowing exactly what’s going in the discussions between Winston and the Dolphins, when an agent publicly says that a player is interested in playing for a team, it usually means that the team’s interest level isn’t too high.
Winston will be 30 in November, after all, and has been cut after the last two seasons (by Houston after 2011, by Kansas City after 2012). And based on Rosenhaus’ comments, it doesn’t appear that money is the issue.
A deal definitely can still be consummated by the two sides, but if the Dolphins REALLY wanted Winston, they probably would’ve made it happen by now.
But the Dolphins don’t have many options left if they want to find a veteran tackle in free agency.