- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
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For years, the Houston Texans have been trying to build an offensive line, using the draft and free agency.
Right tackle Eric Winston, a third-round pick in 2006 out of the University of Miami, has turned into an immediate hit.
Winston, despite being in his third season, agreed Saturday morning to a five-year, $30 million extension that included $10 million in guarantees, according to a source.
By reaching such a big deal early in his career the Texans are identifying Winston, 24, as one of the core group players of the offense.
The 6-foot-5, 283-pound Winston played seven games as a rookie and 16 last season. During the offseason, coach Gary Kubiak hired offensive line guru Alex Gibbs to improve the run blocking and try to get the Texans' running game over the top.
They have a quarterback, Matt Schaub, who has a high completion percentage and is able to move the offense through the air.
And Winston, who ran a 4.93 40-yard dash at the scouting combine before his rookie season, fits the athleticism Gibbs loves in linemen.
Were it not for a knee reconstruction during his junior year in college, Winston might have been a first-rounder. Now, under his new contract, hes being paid like a first-round prospect.
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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