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Texans cut Eric Winston

Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans

HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 26: Tackle Eric Winston #73 of the Houston Texans locks up with defensive end Jason Hatcher #97 of the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Eric Winston is on the way out in Houston.

Winston, an offensive tackle who has started all 16 games for five straight seasons, wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that the Texans informed him they’re letting him go.

We noted a week ago that Winston’s $5.5 million base salary made him a candidate to be asked to take a pay cut or restructure his contract, but the Texans’ decision to release him today still comes as a surprise. It was a shock to Winston.

“Unfortunately I have bad news,” Winston wrote. “The Texans have decided to release me today. Although it is a surprise, I have nothing but positive memories and great relationships that I have built over the years. While my future seems uncertain, I am confident I will land on my feet. Let me say thank you to Mr. McNair and the whole Texan organization. They have had big role in the player and person I have become. And last but not least to my fans and teammates. You guys are the absolute best! I will miss all of you more than you know.”

Now Winston becomes an unrestricted free agent, joining Levi Brown as the second starting offensive tackle to join the free agent market today.