The two sides reached an agreement on a one-year deal early Thursday morning, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
It is a good signing for two reasons:
Firstly, it means the coaching staff realizes the offensive line needed to be upgraded. Levi Brown is returning from an injury that took away his entire 2012 season, but he has always been scrutinized for not living up to his No. 5 overall draft status.
Secondly, and most important, it means the NFL season is upon us and people can stop searching painfully for content to discuss. There is plenty of news out there now, and this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
But what does the Winston signing mean for the other offensive linemen on the roster?
Right tackle Bobby Massie allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season as a rookie, but all 13 of them came during the first half of the year (per ProFootballFocus). Massie was one of two right tackles to start all 16 regular-season games and allow zero sacks over the final eight contests (Tyson Clabo was the other).
Then there is Brown, the assumed starting left tackle, who reportedly did not "stand out" during offseason work.
But with second-year tackle Nate Potter playing bigger this season and being ready for whatever the coaching staff asks of him, including a move to guard, it is curious general manager Steve Keim would work this deal at this time.
Could it be that he and head coach Bruce Arians foresee Winston moving to right guard to replace Daryn Colledge, who admittedly is having a difficult time adjusting to his own move from left to right guard? A tackle moving to guard is not unheard of; in fact, it happens more than you might think.
In the last two years alone, three right tackles -- the San Diego Chargers' Jeromey Clary, Pittsburgh Steelers' Willie Colon and Philadelphia Eagles' Todd Herremans -- have moved to guard, so it wouldn't be out of the question for any of the Cardinals top four tackles.
There is commentary out there from years past suggesting Brown may end up at guard before his career is over. Potter, as linked above, is reportedly comfortable with the idea of ending up there. Others have suggested the perfect-world scenario for Arizona is to kick Massie inside to guard and play Winston at his usual right tackle post.
Or, is it possible Brown or Colledge are cut?
According to Spotrac, Brown is owed $6.4 million in 2013. But $5.6 million of that is dead money. That is, he has $5.6 million in signing bonus money owed to him that would be divvied up in four yearly payments of $1.4 million if he was still on the roster. If he is cut, the organization still owes him that money.
If he were cut, the team would save $800,000 in total before Brown is off the books.
For Colledge, his salary in 2013 is $7.275 million. With $6.825 million of dead money, that means the team saves only $450,000 before he is off the books.
Either way, there would not be enough money saved or lost to worry about potential salary cap issues. As of this posting, the Cardinals have a little over $10.6 million in space, so they have wiggle room to accommodate any move.
Worth noting: Winston started at right guard for the Chiefs' Week 11 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins. He played the first half, facing Atkins a handful of times and surrendering a sack to him.
However, Winston looked at home other than that one play. He got to the second level of the defense in a hurry -- at times, before Bengals linebackers could react to the snap of the ball -- and took Rey Maualuga out of one running play completely.
There are options for the line now with an upper-echelon lineman like Winston on the roster. Whichever way Arians chooses to go should be considered the correct way until games are played and everyone can be evaluated.
Shaun Church has covered the Arizona Cardinals for three years on various online publications and considers himself a life-long fan. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, Football Nation, The Boston Metro, ESPN.com and more.
Questions or comments? E-mail Shaun at email@example.com. Shaun will take questions via email all throughout the NFL season regarding the team and will answer the best ones once per month in a #BirdgangMailbag.
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