The Chiefs filled two of their biggest roster holes Saturday, signing veteran right tackle Eric Winston to a four-year contract and agreeing to terms with backup quarterback Brady Quinn. Terms were not disclosed.
Winston may be the Chiefs’ biggest free-agent prize so far, following previous additions in running back Peyton Hillis and tight end Kevin Boss. The Chiefs were seeking to upgrade at right tackle from Barry Richardson, now an unrestricted free agent.
Winston, 28, is generally regarded as one of the best right tackles in the NFL. He entered the league with Houston in 2006 and became a starter that season. He started every game for Houston in the subsequent five seasons.
Quinn 27, played for the Browns and Broncos. Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel was in Cleveland in 2007 when the Browns drafted Quinn in the first round.
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He started 12 games for Cleveland in 2008 and 2009, throwing 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions and compiling a 3-9 record. But he fell from favor with the Browns and was traded to Denver. Hillis went from the Broncos to the Browns in that deal.
The Chiefs had indicated they wanted competition for starting quarterback Matt Cassel, but Quinn is unlikely to provide it. He didn’t play in a game during his two seasons in Denver.
But he provides a measure of stability the Chiefs haven’t had at backup quarterback since Cassel became their starter in 2009. The Chiefs have gone through, among others, Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko, but neither was productive when the Chiefs called on him.
Only when the Chiefs claimed Kyle Orton off waivers late last season did the Chiefs find a competent backup. But Orton, a free agent, recently signed with Dallas.
Free agency got off to a rocky start for the Chiefs when chairman Clark Hunt declared on national television that the Chiefs would aggressively pursue quarterback Peyton Manning. But Manning never granted an audience to the Chiefs.
The Chiefs rebounded nicely since then by signing four players who could help an offense that finished 31st among the NFL’s 32 teams in scoring.