Eric Fisher

Reid: Door Open For Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz Returns

The Chiefs created a major depth chart issue ahead of free agency, making longtime tackle starters Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz cap casualties. Both remain free agents, however, and Andy Reid said the door is not closed on either returning.

Unfortunately with Schwartz and Fish, you run into these cap situations,” Reid said, via NFL.com. “Some of these things had to be done. But the greatest thing about this is those guys, with their stay in Kansas City, they go out as champs, and they can hold that with them. Again, you never know. This is a small fraternity of teams. What goes around could come back around to you.

Not that they’re not back with us at some point, but that door always remains open. These guys did it the right way here.”

[RELATED: Mitchell Schwartz Undergoes Back Surgery]

Reid’s comments do not make it sound likely either returns, but the Chiefs have not necessarily replaced them. The savings from the Fisher and Schwartz cuts — upwards of $18MM — allowed the Chiefs to sign Joe Thuney. The team then competed for Trent Williams, finishing second in that pursuit. Kansas City re-signed Mike Remmers, who started at both tackle spots last season, but would appear to be in need of upgrades at left and right tackle still.

Fisher suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the Chiefs’ AFC championship game rout; the injury pushed Remmers from right to left tackle and led to the Buccaneers’ pass rushers pressuring Patrick Mahomes throughout Super Bowl LV. Schwartz missed most of 2020 with a back injury, one that ended his iron-man streak. The stalwart right tackle had never previously missed a start. Fisher and Schwartz served as the Chiefs’ tackles for the bulk of the past five seasons.

Reid added that 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang, who opted out of his rookie season, could be an option at left tackle. But the Chiefs figure to need at least one new tackle starter, and regardless of Fisher and Schwartz’s statuses, the two-time reigning AFC champions are likely to address the position early in the draft. Fisher and Schwartz were previously attached to eight-figure-per-year deals; both would need to accept major discounts to return.

Fisher turned 30 in January; Schwartz will turn 32 in June. Both profile as two of the top remaining free agents, but with each coming off 2021 surgeries, they may linger on the market for a while. Depending on how the Chiefs’ draft goes, at least one of these reunions may be in play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Release Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz

The Chiefs have released left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, per a club announcement. Together, the moves will save the Chiefs upwards of $18MM. 

Both players finished the year on injured reserve and missed the team’s most recent Super Bowl. Schwartz was lost to back injury in October that ended his streak of 134 consecutive regular-season starts. He underwent back surgery just a couple of weeks ago, but should be back on the field no later than Week 1 of the 2021 season. He has never made a Pro Bowl and has just one First Team All-Pro nod to his credit, but Pro Bowl nods often elude elite right tackles. Schwartz has been one of the best right tackles in the league since he entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Browns in 2012.

Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, leaving them extra thin in the front five. Even before Schwartz’s injury, they lost interior standout Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and rookie tackle Lucas Niang to COVID opt-outs. They also lost left guard Kelechi Osemele in October — none of that has stopped the Chiefs’ world-class offense from reaching the championship game. Fisher started 113 games for the Chiefs across eight years for the Chiefs.

Even while the Chiefs were $20MM over the salary cap, GM Brett Veach was still looking for ways to keep the offensive line together.

From the offset here, the draft looks to be really talented on the offensive line,” Veach said earlier this year. “So I think it’ll be a combination of what we have in-house and blending that in with some new talent. Potentially in free agency and potentially in the draft.

Ultimately, the numbers crunch was too much, forcing the Chiefs to move on from their top outside protectors.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach On Mahomes, OL, Watkins

The Chiefs are coming off a very disappointing Super Bowl loss, and although they’re coming off back to back AFC titles, they know they’ve got some work to do this offseason. GM Brett Veach met with the media on Monday, and dished on what lies ahead.

Perhaps most notably, Veach provided an update on Patrick Mahomes. Everything appears to have gone smoothly with Mahomes’ foot surgery, as the GM said he’ll definitely be ready for training camp and the team is hoping he can participate in mandatory minicamp in June. Mahomes was hobbled down the stretch, but it doesn’t sound like this is going to be an issue of much importance for 2021.

Kansas City’s offensive line (deservedly so) took a lot of blame for the Super Bowl loss, and Veach acknowledged it’s a priority. He highlighted the two COVID-19 opt-outs the team had on the O-line, as well as the loss of left tackle Eric Fisher in the AFC Championship Game, but made it clear the team wasn’t going to stand pat.

“From the offset here, the draft looks to be really talented on the offensive line. So I think it’ll be a combination of what we have in-house and blending that in with some new talent. Potentially in free agency and potentially in the draft,” Veach said, via Charles Goldman of the Chiefs Wire.

Speaking of the offensive line, Veach said that right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who was limited to six games in 2020, had disk surgery on his back and the team is hopeful he’ll be ready for training camp as well. He said the same thing about Fisher, although that might be a bit of a reach considering he’s coming off a torn Achilles at 30.

Finally, Veach talked about the receiving corp and specifically Sammy Watkins. He said it would take more work than it did last year to bring Watkins back, which could be GM-speak for the team being likely to move on. Veach said the team feels good about Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle and that “I can’t see us running out of the gates in the first week of free agency and signing a receiver,” via Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).

The last we heard was right before the Super Bowl, when there was apparently mutual interest between Watkins and the Chiefs in sticking together, but it sounds like it might be an uphill battle to get it to work financially. Watkins took a pay-cut last April to stay with the team for 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/6/21

Here are the latest NFL minor moves:

Houston Texans

  • Signed to reserve/futures contract: OL Jordan Steckler

Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chiefs’ Eric Fisher Tears Achilles

Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher tore his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This is the news that Andy Reid expected following Sunday’s win over the Bills. 

Fisher, of course, will be out of action when the Chiefs take on the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs were already playing without right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, and they could be sans both of their starting tackles in the title game. Following Fisher’s exit, the Chiefs moved right tackle Mike Remmers over to the left side, slotted RT Andrew Wylie at right guard, and brought in swingman Stefen Wisniewski to play RG. That’ll likely be the Chiefs’ game plan in Super Bowl LV if Schwartz is still out of action.

The Bucs have a dangerous duo on the edge in Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett, so they’ll be relying heavily on their pass protection. On the plus side, the Chiefs have been resilient throughout the year, despite playing with a weakened front five. Early on, they lost interior standout Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and rookie tackle Lucas Niang to COVID opt-outs. They also lost left guard Kelechi Osemele in October — none of that has stopped the Chiefs’ world-class offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/19/20

Here are the most recent NFL minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Placed on IR: CB C.J. Henderson

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: FB C.J. Ham

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/16/20

We’ll put all of today’s minor moves here:

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans 

Fortunately it looks like all these COVID-19 list placements were due to contacts and not positive tests, meaning the Chiefs will likely have both of their starting tackles available on Sunday assuming they don’t test positive between now and then.

Fine Updates: Simmons, Fisher, Williams, Bosa

The NFL will not fine Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons for conduct during Tennessee’s 28-12 victory in the divisional playoff round, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. After the contest, Ravens offensive guard Marshal Yanda accused Simmons of spitting on him during the contest. Per Hensley, the NFL found no evidence to substantiate those claims.

For what it’s worth, Simmons did not deny spitting on Yanda when he was asked about it on Wednesday. Had the NFL prooved that Simmons had indeed spit in his opponent’s face, he would have been subject to an unsportsmanlike conduct fine of $14,037.

A few other players were unable to avoid hits to their checkbooks:

  • Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher went viral online after he celebrated by pouring beer over himself during Kansas City’s divisional round victory over the Texans. While the NFL shared Fisher’s celebration on its official Twitter account, it appears the NFL’s marketers and executors of the codes of conduct are not on the same page. Fisher was fined $14,037 by the league on Saturday, when the league announced this week’s round of fines, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.
  • Fisher was not the lone Chiefs player to receive a fine for a celebration, running back Damien Williams received a $10,527 fine for taunting, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. After he scored his third touchdown in last week’s game, he placed the ball directly in front of a Texan defensive lineman, which cost the team a fifteen-yard penalty and now will cost Williams more than ten thousand dollars.
  • Defensive end Nick Bosa was fined $28,025 for an illegal blindside block in the 49ers 27-10 victory over the Vikings in last week’s divisional round, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. Normally a defensive player would not be subject to such a fine, but after his defensive teammate, Richard Sherman, intercepted one of Kirk Cousins passes, Bosa got overzealous in a block on offensive tackle Brian O’Neill that forced O’Neill to leave the game for a couple of series.

West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Johnson

The Bryce Callahan situation is moving closer toward the Broncos not seeing him on the field this season. After a report surfaced indicating the offseason signing now may miss the season, Vic Fangio said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) seeing Callahan on the field this year has become a 50-50 proposition. Fangio said earlier this week he was hopeful his former Bears pupil would suit up in 2019. The Broncos signed both Callahan and Kareem Jackson to patch up their secondary, but the former continues to struggle to shake off the foot trouble that ended his 2018 season early. With contract-year standout Chris Harris still a trade candidate, though a player that may end up staying, the Broncos’ long-term cornerback situation is in as bleak of a place since before the franchise’s 2004 Champ Bailey acquisition.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, shifting first to another key Broncos signing:

  • Denver’s Ja’Wuan James investment has gone almost as poorly as its Callahan addition. James suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Broncos’ Week 1 game and has missed every snap since. However, the well-paid right tackle is expected to start this week, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. James is believed to be set to play in a part-time capacity, with a three-tackle rotation between he, Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson in the cards. Wilkinson has started the past six Broncos games at right tackle.
  • In addition to Patrick Mahomes‘ Week 8 absence, the Chiefs will be without Frank Clark. The team declared its top defensive end out with a neck injury. Chris Jones, Kendall Fuller and Eric Fisher will miss another game as well. Clark broke out for a dominant performance against Bolles in Kansas City’s Week 7 win, but the offseason acquisition will have to wait until at least Week 9 to build on that performance.
  • However, the Chiefs will have Sammy Watkins back. The oft-injured wide receiver suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5, but ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher notes he will play against the Packers. In Year 2 of a $16MM-AAV deal, Watkins has not caught a pass since Week 4.
  • David Johnson enters this week’s Cardinals game in the same place he did the past two games: as a game-time decision. Kliff Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) the former All-Pro back does not need practice to suit up for a game, but with Chase Edmonds playing well in relief, this shapes up as a true game-time call. Johnson suited up for Week 7 but spent most of his afternoon on the sideline. Both Christian Kirk and Jordan Hicks are game-day calls as well.

Chiefs Notes: Hill, Fisher, Williams, McCoy

Tyreek Hill‘s three-year, $54MM Chiefs extension comes with a host of conditions that protect the team, and more Chiefs-friendly stipulations in the controversial wide receiver’s deal have come to light. The All-Pro talent received $22MM-plus in full guarantees, but this contract would allow the Chiefs to void those if any additional trouble comes Hill’s way, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Were Hill to be suspended or placed on the commissioner’s exempt list at any point, his guarantees will void. Hill’s fully guaranteed figure ranks behind 11 wideouts’, including Sammy Watkins‘ $30MM.

The Chiefs have made this a year-to-year proposition, with Hill’s deal calling for league-minimum base salaries from 2019-21. The bulk of this deal’s money stands to come via bonuses. Hill has a $15.2MM roster bonus for the 2020 season, but JLC notes that money is not due until February 2021 — near the end of the 2020 league year. This would allow the team to avoid that bonus payment, should Hill encounter more off-field issues. The same structure is in place in 2021, with a $9.75MM roster bonus due in February 2022. The Chiefs hold an option for Hill’s 2022 season.

Hill pleaded guilty to striking his pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Espinal, while at Oklahoma State and fell to the fifth round as a result. The Chiefs were set to negotiate what would almost certainly have been a more player-friendly deal in March of this year, but Hill’s ensuing trouble (for which he was not suspended) sidetracked those plans and led to this complex contract.

Here is the latest out of Kansas City:

  • Eric Fisher will miss his first start in six years on Sunday. The Chiefs left tackle underwent core muscle surgery this week in Philadelphia, Adam Teicher of ESPN.com tweets. Fisher, who suffered a groin injury in practice last week but started against the Raiders, will miss Sunday’s game against the Ravens and likely more time as he recovers. He has not been placed on IR. Cam Erving will start at left tackle against the Ravens, though Andy Reid has said standout right tackle Mitchell Schwartz could move to the left edge if need be. The 2013 No. 1 overall pick, Fisher has not missed a start since his rookie season.
  • Damien Williams has now missed two practices with a knee injury, pointing to either a Week 3 absence or a game-time decision. Making matters more complicated for the three-time defending AFC West champions, LeSean McCoy is also battling an injury. Shady is dealing with ankle trouble and did not practice Wednesday. He looks to have a better chance of playing Sunday, however. The Chiefs have Darrel Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson on their roster as well.
  • The Chiefs are one of a few teams that have made “substantive inquiries” on Jalen Ramsey.