Offensive tackle Eric Winston thought he still had some unfinished business with the Houston Texans.
Winston helped the Texans to their first postseason in franchise history and first playoff win in 2011.
He could only imagine what the future would bring.
But that future will come in Kansas City after the Chiefs signed Winston to a contract worth about $21 million after putting on a full-court press to find their new right tackle.
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“I’ll be in a similar situation with a team that is on the brink of breaking through, so I feel like I’m going to a really good situation where it’s not that much different,” Winston said Monday on a teleconference. “Kansas City is a city that wants to win and wants to win badly … and it’s a team that is on the brink of doing it.
“I wouldn’t have come to Kansas City for any other reason than to win … and looking at the roster, and looking at the moves that have been made, we’re going to have the pieces.”
Winston, 28, was a six-year starter for the Texans, but knew very little about Kansas City or the Chiefs’ personnel until he visited last week after calls from general manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and other staff members.
“They were on it pretty quick,” Winston said. “I can’t say enough how that played a part of me coming there.”
The Texans let Winston go in part because of salary cap issues and also because of some concern about an injured ankle. Winston said he recently underwent an arthroscopic procedure on the ankle, and he’ll be fit for training camp.
“I had the typical sprained ankles from a youth playing basketball … and football and all kinds of other sports,” Winston said. “Just got a little cleanout, and now I’m fine. I just have to get my final release from the doctor and we’ll be good to go.”
After helping pave the way for the NFL’s 2010 rushing leader in Arian Foster the past two years, Winston, a native of Midland, Texas, was stunned when the Texans let him go.
“When you’re part of a building project … I got here in ’06 … we were 6-10 that first year, 8-8 a bunch of years, and last year we broke through,” he said. “Of course it’s frustrating, I wanted to see it through from the sense of how much work I put into it … but that’s the modern NFL, that’s salary cap, and that’s the way things go.”
Winston also visited Miami, but burnt ends in Kansas City won out over stone crabs on South Beach.
So did a look at the Chiefs’ roster, which reminded Winston of the emerging Houston team.
“When I started looking at their roster, and I started looking at who they had, and who they didn’t have,” Winston said, “and I looked at their season last year, it reminded me of the Texans’ season in 2010, that there were some high hopes going into the season.
“And you look at what happened in Kansas City … where Matt Cassel was hurt, and Eric Berry … Jamaal Charles, who I think might be one of the most explosive backs in the league … You look at everything that happened, and they’re still a play away from being in the playoffs.”
While Winston is already firmly ensconced as the Chiefs’ starting right tackle, free-agent quarterback Brady Quinn, whose one-year contract for $1.5 million also was announced on Monday, is ticketed as the backup to Matt Cassel.
“They stated that Matt Cassel is the starting quarterback right now, and that’s where things are, but there’s going to be competition on every team,” Quinn said. “Competition makes everyone better. That’s the way the league is.”