The Miami Dolphins are meeting with free agent offensive lineman Eric Winston. The former Miami Hurricane was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs on March 6.
The Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins will meet with Winston on Wednesday, and could make an offer to the six-year veteran. Now that Jake Long has left the team via free agency, the team looking to bolster its offensive line before the April 25 NFL Draft.
Winston, who is 29, played at the University of Miami from 2003 to 2005, switching from tight end to offensive line before his sophomore season. He was selected in the third round of the 2006 draft by the Houston Texans.
Winston started 7 games as a rookie in 2006, and started all 16 games for the next six seasons. Last year he became a free agent, leaving the Texans for a four-year, $22 million contract with Kansas City.
Winston, a right tackle, would not directly replace Long, who started at left tackle for five seasons. Instead, a Winston signing would allow Jonathan Martin to switch to the left side permanently. Martin played left tackle for the last four games of the 2012 season when Long went on injured reserve. He also played on the left side in college.
Signing Winston is far from a sure thing, as several other teams are reportedly interested in him. The Dolphins could also make a run at former Atlanta lineman Brent Grimes, according to the Herald.
Rex Ryan, coach of the New York Jets, told the Herald Wednesday, "I'm kind of happy to see Jake Long leave." Long, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was the anchor of Miami's offensive line since being drafted with the first overall pick in 2008.
But Long's performance dropped off over the past few seasons, and the Dolphins were wary of overpaying for Long while also spending a good deal of money on free agent wide receivers and linebackers last week. Long signed a four-year deal with the St. Louis Rams that will pay him over $8 million per year.