If you're patient long enough a decent acorn will eventually fall off another NFL team's roster.
That happened Wednesday night when the cap-strapped Kansas City Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston, whom the Miami Dolphins explored signing last offseason.
Winston signed a four-year, $22 million deal last offseason, but he struggled early in the year and then ran afoul of some fans after he criticized a small percentage for cheering when quarterback Matt Cassel got hurt.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Alberts and are expected to use the first overall pick in the 2013 draft on an offensive tackle. That made Winston, a former University of Miami standout, expendable.
Last offseason, after Winston was released by the Houston Texans, the Dolphins were the first team to host him on a visit, and made a respectable contract offer. But that offer was trumped by Kansas City.
Winston played 1,024 snaps in the 16 games he played for the Chiefs and was rated by ProFootballFocus.com as the NFL's 26th best offensive tackle, finishing one spot behind Alberts. He had an overall positive metric grade (13.2), allowing three sacks, six quarterback hits and 25 quarterback hurries.
But Winston, 29, did commit 10 penalties, which ranks him 10th in the NFL last season.
The previous season Winston was ranked by PFF as the NFL's 10th best offensive tackle.
Winston, a seven-year veteran, has started 103 of the 108 games he's played. He was due $4.9 million in base salary this season. His release saves the Chiefs $6.5 million against the salary cap.
He'll likely be the top veteran right tackle on the free agent market, and the Dolphins are in the market for one if they decide to let Jake Long leave as a free agent and move Jonathan Martin, last year's second round pick, to left tackle permanently.
Martin, who started 11 games at right tackle and five at left tackle, was rated by ProfootballFocus.com as the NFL's 79th best tackle (six sacks, four quarterback hits, and 47 quarterback hurries). However, he played left tackle better than right tackle because that's the position he spent all four years at Stanford playing.
Winston is familiar with the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins use considering he spent the first six years of his career playing in it with the Texans.
Not only does Winston make South Florida his offseason home, but his brother, Matt Winston, is a regional scout for the Dolphins and spent his first few years on Miami's staff as General Manager Jeff Ireland's assist.
The Dolphins could sign Winston before the free agent period signing period begins on Saturday because players who get released can make deals immediately. However, Miami would likely put Winston through an extensive physical before making an offer.