Eric Fisher

AFC Notes: Browns, Fisher, Broncos, Fleming

The Browns made some front office hires recently, and for one spot they simply plucked a player off their roster. Cleveland has hired Anthony Fabiano as a scouting assistant, the team announced in a release alongside a bunch of other names. Fabiano is a 2016 UDFA from Harvard, who spent the past handful of years bouncing around the bottom of various teams’ rosters as an offensive lineman.

He started a game for the Browns as a rookie in 2016, and then started another for the Colts in 2017. All told, he spent at least a bit of time with nine different teams. He was signed by the Browns back in January right as their season was about to end, and didn’t appear in a game. Given his Ivy League education, it’s not too surprising he had an easy time transitioning to the front office.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • It was initially reported that Eric Fisher‘s one-year deal with the Colts would pay him $9.4MM in 2021, but it turns out it’s a bit less than that. Fisher’s 2021 compensation will actually be $8.38MM, veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets. It’s only $6MM guaranteed. It includes a $4MM signing bonus, a $2MM guaranteed salary, and then $2.38MM in per game active roster bonuses. Wilson also notes that it’s technically a two-year pact with 2022 automatically voiding for cap purposes.
  • Fisher isn’t the only AFC offensive lineman we have new contract details on. Cameron Fleming signed with the Broncos last month as further right tackle insurance after the Ja’Wuan James season-ending injury, and it was initially just reported as a one-year deal worth “up to” $3.67MM. Turns out it’s a one-year deal with a base value of only $1.67MM, with $1MM in guarantees, John Clayton of DenverFan.com writes. That would seem to indicate Fleming has $2MM in incentives available for this season. The Broncos have also signed Bobby Massie, so they have some options opposite Garett Bolles.

Colts To Consider Long-Term Deal For Eric Fisher

Earlier this week, the Colts inked Eric Fisher to a one-year, $9.4MM deal. But, if all goes well, they hope to keep him for the long haul (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of CBS4). 

Of course, that all hinges on Fisher’s health moving forward. The 30-year-old was injury-free from 2014-18, but core muscle surgery derailed him in 2019. He returned to aid the Chiefs on their way to their Super Bowl victory, then wound up back on IR late last year with an Achilles tear. The Colts, knowing the risk, opted to sign Fisher to a one-year deal, but that could work to Fisher’s benefit if he turns in a 16-game slate.

As soon as I got the call I was being cut, it was an automatic reset in my brain of I’m nowhere near being done, I feel like I got a lot of years left in me,” the two-time Pro Bowler said this week. “I was actually thinking about that this morning driving back from rehab. It’s going to be an awesome reset for myself and a fresh slate, keep working and finish the second half of my career off on a good start. I’ve been thinking about that and excited to kind of have that reset.”

For what it’s worth, Fisher’s contract technically has a voidable year in 2022, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic. The extra year puts some of the obligation on next year’s books, which gives the Colts extra incentive to extend the pact.

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Eric Fisher May Not Play Until October

The Colts just gave Eric Fisher $9.4MM for the 2021 season, but don’t count on him being ready to play right away. There’s a chance Fisher isn’t ready to play until early October, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

That would mean Fisher could easily miss the first month-plus of the season. Rapoport writes that the Colts “won’t push” Fisher in his rehab, despite the fact they’ve only got him on a short-term deal. The Colts signed Sam Tevi this offseason, who will presumably open the year as the starter protecting Carson Wentz‘s blindside. That’s not very good news for Wentz.

Tevi was a starter for the Chargers the past three seasons, but the 2017 sixth-round pick never played very well. There’s a reason Indy was able to sign him for only $2.5MM back in March. Regardless the team surprised many by not drafting a tackle, so it appears they’re comfortable with Tevi.

Fisher, of course, tore his Achilles in January. The first overall pick of the 2013 draft made the Pro Bowl for his work during the regular season, but has now suffered serious injuries in back to back years. Either way, he’s about the best possible Anthony Castonzo replacement Colts fans could’ve hoped for at this time of year.

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Colts To Sign Eric Fisher

The Colts have agreed to sign Eric Fisher, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Once finalized, it’ll be a one-year, $9.4MM deal for the Pro Bowl tackle. 

Fisher will now be tasked with protecting Carson Wentz’s blindside. He’ll also have some big shoes to fill, taking over for the job previously held by Anthony Castonzo. The former No. 1 overall pick should be well equipped for the role and he certainly profiles as a better option than the incumbents. After passing on elite tackles in the draft, the Colts were left with newcomers Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport as their best LT candidates.

The 30-year-old did not miss a start due to injury from 2014-18, but core muscle surgery derailed him afterwards. But, when he retook the field in 2019, he helped lift the Chiefs to a late-season win streak that culminated in a Super Bowl LIV victory. Last year, he was wiped out by an Achilles tear. The Chiefs opted to release him this offseason, paving the way for former Ravens standout Orlando Brown Jr.

The Colts are comfortable with Fisher’s rehab (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), though he’s less than certain to be ready for Week 1. Either way, it’s a notable upgrade for Indy, especially since they can now keep guard Quenton Nelson on the interior.

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Colts Still Considering Eric Fisher

Eric Fisher‘s Thursday visit with the Colts ended without a deal. However, a league source tells Jim Ayello of the Indy Star (Twitter link) that the visit went well and a deal remains possible for the veteran left tackle.

The Colts passed on adding a top-level tackle in the draft, so the eight-year Chiefs starter could be a solid candidate for them. It also helps that he has history with GM Chris Ballard who was in KC when they tapped Fisher No. 1 overall in 2013 and extended him in 2016. Now, they need a solid LT to help replace Anthony Castonzo.

The Colts do have other options, including newcomers Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport. However, Fisher laps both in accomplishments and experience. The 30-year-old blocker did not miss a start due to injury from 2014-18 and proved instrumental upon return from core muscle surgery in 2019; his re-emergence coincided with the Chiefs’ late-season win streak that ended with a Super Bowl LIV victory.

The Chiefs dropped Fisher, a two-time Pro Bowler after he suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the AFC championship game. Since then, they’ve replaced him by trading for Ravens standout Orlando Brown Jr.

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Colts To Host Eric Fisher On Visit

The Colts passed on adding a starter-level left tackle in the draft. They did not view potential first-round options as sufficient value picks and saw some later-round candidates scooped up ahead of their selections. But Indianapolis still has tackles in mind.

Eric Fisher is set to visit the Colts later this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The eight-year Chiefs starter popped up on the radar last month, and the Colts are now confirmed as one of the teams monitoring him.

A key connection exists here. Colts GM Chris Ballard was part of the Chiefs’ front office when they selected Fisher first overall in 2013. Ballard was still with the organization when it extended Fisher in 2016. Should Fisher prove healthy or on a reasonable track to full strength, he would stand to fill the Colts’ top need.

Anthony Castonzo‘s retirement made left tackle a Colts need for the first time in 10 years. Indy re-signed its left-edge stalwart last year, but the former first-round pick opted to walk away after the 2020 season. Fisher saw his team cut bait after the season. The Chiefs dropped the two-time Pro Bowler after he suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the AFC championship game. While Fisher’s absence helped doom Kansas City in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs moved on with an expansive O-line overhaul — one that features trade acquisition Orlando Brown Jr. in Fisher’s left tackle spot.

The Colts have added possible Castonzo replacements this offseason, in ex-Chargers starter Sam Tevi and former Texans and Dolphins first-stringer Julie’n Davenport. However, Fisher laps both in accomplishments and experience. The 30-year-old blocker did not miss a start due to injury from 2014-18 and proved instrumental upon return from core muscle surgery in 2019; his re-emergence coincided with the Chiefs’ late-season win streak that ended with a Super Bowl LIV victory.

Fisher suited up for 17 Chiefs games last season, making the Pro Bowl and missing only the Super Bowl due to injury. But the Achilles malady certainly cost him, with the Chiefs shedding his eight-figure salary. With the compensatory pick deadline having passed, the Colts will look into giving Fisher another chance.

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Several Teams Monitoring Eric Fisher

The Chiefs’ Orlando Brown trade appears to have closed the book on an Eric Fisher return, ending that era at eight years. Although Fisher has experience at right tackle, having played there as a rookie, the former No. 1 overall pick figures to head elsewhere.

Given Fisher’s resume and experience level, he profiles as an interesting option for a team in need at left tackle. Teams are monitoring the free agent blocker, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com indicating the 30-year-old lineman has spoken to “numerous teams” this offseason (Twitter link).

Fisher will be an after-the-draft option for teams, per RapSheet. A torn Achilles led the two-time Pro Bowler to free agency; the Chiefs also cut All-Pro Mitchell Schwartz. Andy Reid said earlier this week the team could circle back to both, but Kansas City’s deal for Brown stands to cut off Fisher’s path back to western Missouri.

While scrutinized for years due to his draft slot, the former mid-major standout has proven reliable for a while. From 2014-18, Fisher did not miss a game due to injury. A core muscle issue limited him to eight regular-season games in 2019, but the Chiefs’ Super Bowl push — a nine-game win streak — began when Fisher returned to the lineup that November. Counting the playoffs, Fisher started 17 games last season. He graded as a top-20 tackle, per Pro Football Focus, in 2020.

Most teams have addressed this high-value position, but a few should be in the market for help. However, this draft features some first- and second-round options that will help some of the teams with deficiencies here fill the spots. The Colts have signed Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport this offseason but are still looking for a left tackle. The Steelers have not re-signed Alejandro Villanueva, who is entering his age-35 season. Washington is also searching for a left tackle.

Chargers GM Tom Telesco indicated he is bullish on Trey Pipkins, the Bolts have been busy restocking their O-line this year and appear in need here as well. Pipkins, who has started eight games over his first two seasons, graded outside PFF’s top 70 tackles last season. The 2019 third-round pick will likely have competition, at best, or a surefire replacement, at worst, going into the ’21 slate.

Fisher’s Achilles injury certainly sidetracked his career (and the Chiefs’ repeat championship aspirations), but the veteran should have a path to a starting job come training camp — so long as his recovery proceeds on track.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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