NFL Free Agency: Eric Winston Gives Chiefs' Scott Pioli Opportunity To Stick By His Words

It was way back in January that Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli made comments regarding the Chiefs offensive line that had fans assuming that upgrading the offensive line was going to be a focus of this off-season. Pioli had talked with Bob Fescue and Josh Klingler via 610 sports radio in Kansas City.

"We have to get better on the offensive line somehow, some way," Pioli told Fescoe and Klingler. "We don't know who's going to be here and who's not. We have a long list in free agency. We have to improve our offensive line. We have to improve the depth of the football team."

Well one of those players that Pioli might not have known was going to be available a couple of months ago was Eric Winston, the former standout right tackle of the Houston Texans that was recently cut after five years with the team. Winston apparently had surgery on his left ankle that was deemed as nothing serious a few weeks ago when he had the surgery, but the Texans saw it as an opportunity to let a player go and save a few million on their salary cap in the process. Winston is supposed to be fine within a couple of weeks as the injury isn't considered serious.

I wrote a few days ago reasons why I think the Chiefs should go after Winston if given the opportunity. It's been reported by the local media that Winston will be taking a visit to the Chiefs on Thursday. If Scott Pioli was serious about upgrading the offensive line this off-season adding Winston to lock-down the right tackle spot for the Chiefs for the next half-decade should be a main priority for the Chiefs right now.

Right tackle has been the spot on the line that the Chiefs have been looking for a long-term answer for quite some time. Barry Richardson started at right tackle for the Chiefs last year and is currently a free agent. Richardson struggled in pass protection for most of last season and graded out as one of the worst tackles in football last season according to Pro Football Focus. His strength in the run game wasn't as obvious with Jamaal Charles being out last season with a torn ACL.

It's not just that Winston would hold down the right tackle position that benefits the Chiefs heading into next year and beyond. It's that it gives the Chiefs many more options as to what they'd be able to do in the upcoming draft. They currently sit at No. 11 and just about every mock draft out there has them selecting one of the offensive tackles that might be available. That could be Jonathan Martin, Reilly Reiff or Mike Adams depending upon where you're looking. If they were to sign Winston they could look at defensive line with Dontari Poe, or even take Stanford guard David DeCastro with that first round pick. By drafting DeCastro you could conceivably solidify your offensive line with young players in Jon Asamoah, David DeCastro, Rodney Hudson and Winston for the next decade.

Thursday could be one of the most important days of the 2012 season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Scott Pioli and company have an opportunity to take what has been a huge weakness for this team for the last few seasons, and make it an absolute strength with one of the top right tackles in all of football. Winston is only 28 years old and should be seeing a healthy amount of money coming his way.

Winston recently left Miami, where he played college football, on a visit without signing a contract. That bodes well for the Chiefs in that they will at least get the chance to sit in front of Winston and sell him on joining the Chiefs. It's been reported that Winston has at least four other teams that have lined up for visits after Kansas City. It's going to be up to Scott Pioli to stick by his words and help upgrade the offensive line tomorrow on Winston's visit. They need him to sign that contract before he leaves because if he leaves to take those other visits, they won't see him again. If they can blow his socks off and put the right deal in front of him, that's a huge signing and would change just about everyone's opinion on this off-season for the Chiefs regardless of what else they do in free agency.

For more on the Kansas City Chiefs, check out Arrowhead Pride. For NFL notes from around the league, head over to SB Nation's NFL page.

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