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Eric Winston's Release May Be The First Of Many Dominoes

Raise your hand if you saw that coming?

Keep your hands up.

Now look around. Everyone you see with a hand up is a liar.

The decision to cut Eric Winston is a head-scratcher. Kubiak has always talked about the importance of maintaining continuity on the offensive line and now he cuts one of the more tenured members.

Just when you think you've got the Texans' front office figured out, they drop a bomb like this.

So what might have prompted the Texans to make such a move?

The simple answer is the salary cap. The exact position of the team relative to the cap is uncertain, but clearly the Texans were in need of some relief and the Goodell gift this afternoon was not nearly enough.

On its own, though, the move makes little sense. Eric Winston has a $5.5M cap hit this year, but was an integral part to the team's success last season. Winston definitely struggled against some of the better pass rushers. I remember cursing him on more than one occasion as he was too slow to react to a pass rusher like Robert Mathis and Matt Schaub got crushed.

On the other hand, when you watch the beauty that is the Texans' running game, you can really appreciate what Winston brings to the table. Football Outsiders ranked the Texans 9th in the league in runs to the right end and 12th in right tackle runs. That may not be the dominant performance we like to think it is, but it's significantly better than the team did to the left, and it's definitely not something that's easily replicated.

For a team that just shelled out $43.5M for it's star running back, one would think that keeping the offensive line in tact would be a priority.

Furthermore, when you consider that the team could get an even greater benefit from cutting Matt Leinart and Jacoby Jones, it makes this move even more curious. Winston is definitely replaceable, but it's odd to see the team cut bait with him while keeping others on the roster.

Presumably, this is the first of multiple moves. Presumably, this signals a stronger effort to retain Chris Myers and possibly even Mario Williams (no, I will not say the "P" word). Presumably the team had little intention of paying Winston beyond his current contract (though with two years remaining, he wasn't exactly coming up due). Presumably, the team is planning to give Duane Brown a big raise.

But if this move teaches us anything, it's not to presume anything with this team.

The only thing for certain is that we're in for a hell of a week.