Eric Fisher

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.

AFC West Notes: Fisher, Chargers, Abram

The Chiefs will be down one of their top players Sunday, with Tyreek Hill out for the foreseeable future. But they now have another offensive cornerstone player questionable because of a late-week injury. Eric Fisher suffered a groin injury during Kansas City’s Friday practice and is now questionable, Adam Teicher of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). The former No. 1 overall pick has not missed a start since his rookie season, in 2013, so it will look a bit strange if he is not manning his left tackle post in Oakland. The Chiefs have former Browns first-rounder Cameron Erving as a possible backup option; Erving did not play last week in Jacksonville. They also have former guard-tackle starter Jeff Allen on their bench and traded Carlos Hyde for Texans tackle Martinas Rankin.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Mike Williams played 16 games last season after an injury-plagued rookie year, but the 2017 top-10 pick has run into knee trouble. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said (via ESPN.com’s Eric Williams, on Twitter) the wideout starter will be a game-time decision against the Lions. The Bolts are thinner at receiver than they were last season, with Tyrell Williams having defected to the Raiders. But they still have Travis Benjamin, however, and brought back Dontrelle Inman. Both backups have contributed to Chargers aerial success during their time in southern California.
  • Who would say no if the Chargers and Redskins discussed a swap of holdout talents? The Chargers are not expected to have Melvin Gordon until at least midway through the season, and Trent Williams has shown no signs of ending his holdout. The latter has shown no interest in playing for the Redskins again, however, while Gordon is open to suiting up in Los Angeles this season. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explores this hypothetical, which would include the left tackle-deficient Bolts acquiring a player with two years left on his deal. One season remains on Gordon’s rookie pact, which the Chargers are no longer renegotiating.
  • Johnathan Abram‘s season is almost certainly over, but the rookie Raiders safety received some good news. Abram’s surgery revealed he had only suffered a torn rotator cuff, not a torn labrum, which will limit his rehab time to five or six months, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

AFC West Notes: Bolts, Gates, Rivers, Chiefs

Despite losing Hunter Henry to yet another serious injury, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn did not seem optimistic on a potential reunion with Antonio Gates, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. “I have not been in contact with Antonio,” Lynn said. “I’m not sure what his situation is.”

After Henry’s injury last year, Gates was brought back to the only organization he’s ever known, serving mostly in a backup role. Appearing in all 16 games for the Chargers, Gates totaled 28 receptions for 333 yards, with only two touchdowns.

In the interim, the Chargers seem content with expanding the roles of tight ends Virgil Green and Sean Culkin while Henry recovers from his injury. Green is coming off a lackluster 2018 campaign, where he hauled in 19 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown, while appearing in all 16 games for the Chargers. Despite this, he is expected to start, with Culkin serving in a back up role.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • For the second straight day, wide receiver Mike Williams was absent from Chargers practice, and is not looking good for Sunday’s game against the Lions, according to Eric D. Williams. Lynn has been concerned about the knee of Mike Williams, and another missed practice tomorrow would not bode well for his chances of suiting up this weekend.
  • On the most recent edition of the RapSheet + Friends Podcast, quarterback Philip Rivers spoke with NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport about a number of topics, including his current contract. “I really just feel at peace about that. Tom [Telesco] and I had really good conversations throughout the last couple months. I think it’s sincere, the both of us, really desire I’m still a Charger in 2020,” Rivers told Rapoport. “I think that sincerity will make it all work out. Had it worked out before the regular season got started, I’d have been fine with it, but it didn’t. Shoot, hey let’s just wait and it kinda worked best for both sides to do that. I really feel good about it. I’m in a good place.” Rivers is in the final year of a four-year, $83.25 million contract extension he signed in August 2015.
  • In an effort to create cap space, Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher‘s contract was restructured, which included the conversion of his $9.54MM base salary to a fully guaranteed roster bonus that will be prorated from 2019 to 2021, dropping his 2019 cap hit to about $6.4MM, according to Yahoo Sports’ Terez A. Paylor. Paylor also reports that linebacker Anthony Hitchens‘ restructure, which included the conversion of $5.6MM of his base salary to a fully guaranteed roster bonus that will also be prorated from 2019 to 2022, created roughly $4.2MM in cap room.

Chiefs Create Cap Space

The Chiefs did base salary-to-signing bonus conversions for linebacker Anthony Hitchens & offensive tackle Eric Fisher, Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With that, they’ve carved out nearly $10.6MM in cap room for this year. 

Between these deals and the cap-smoothing extension for Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs are in solid cap position. Of course, they’ll be in better position in general when Hill returns to action, but they have plenty of offensive firepower to keep things moving in the interim.

Hitchens signed a five-year, $45MM deal with the Chiefs in 2018 that made him the league’s seventh-highest paid inside linebacker on an annual basis, at the time of signing. The pact counted for $3.6MM against Kansas City’s salary cap last year, but was set to triple in size for this year. Fun fact: The Chiefs tried to trade for Hitchens in 2017, when he was on the Cowboys. Ultimately, they got their man anyway.

Fisher, 28, is under contract through 2021 thanks to the four-year, $48MM extension he inked in 2016. There’s no guaranteed money in the final year of the contract, but the Chiefs have no plans to ditch him after he earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Notable 2019 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier on Wednesday, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were netted last evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle$1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): For the second consecutive season, Weddle’s bonus will ride on the ability of the Ravens to earn a postseason berth. Baltimore is one of several teams in the mix for the AFC’s No. 6 seed, but FiveThirtyEight gives the club only a 41% chance of actually making the playoffs. Weddle, who will be entering his age-34 campaign in 2019, could potentially retire or be released before next season starts.
  • Chargers C Mike Pouncey, $500K (link): Pouncey somewhat surprisingly earned a Pro Bowl nod alongside his brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. Mike Pouncey hasn’t been a terrible player by any means, but Raiders center Rodney Hudson has undoubtedly been better. Signed to a two-year contract this offeason, Pouncey is due a $6MM base salary and a $1.5MM roster bonus in 2019.
  • Vikings WR Adam Thielen, $500K (link): Thielen, notably, signed arguably the most team-friendly contract in the NFL in March 2017, a three-year deal that’s worth less than $20MM. By picking up a half-million dollar Pro Bowl bonus, Thielen will collect a bit more cash, but he’s still vastly underpaid. Second in the league in receptions, Thielen will count just $11.5MM total on the Vikings’ salary cap over the next two years.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $100K (link): Ertz will also see his base salaries increase by $250K in each of the 2019, 2020, and 2021 campaigns. He’s already surpassed career-highs in both receptions and yardage, and could top his career-high of eight touchdowns with a strong showing down the stretch.

Escalators

  • Chiefs T Eric Fisher, $500K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While Fisher hasn’t necessarily lived up to his status as a former No. 1 overall pick, he has played nearly every offensive snap for the Chiefs over the past six years while offering respectable play. He’s signed through 2021 as part of a four-year, $48MM extension he inked in 2016. Kansas City’s best tackle — Mitchell Schwartz, who mans the right side — has somehow been named second-team All-Pro for three consecutive years without ever being given a Pro Bowl nod.
  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2019 (link): Slay needed to reach two of three thresholds in order to earn his escalator. While he hasn’t yet met a five interception requirement, he was named to the Pro Bowl and has played on at least 80% of the Lions’ defensive snaps.
  • Packers WR Davante Adams, $250K base salary increase in 2019 (link): While he’s not quite at Thielen-level in terms of selling himself short, Adams arguably signed his extension with the Packers well before he needed to. Adams took a four-year, $58MM deal in December 2017, just months before he was scheduled to hit the open market. He’s vaunted to true No. 1 wideout status this year, but he’s just the NFL’s ninth-highest-paid wideout in terms of annual average.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase in 2019-2020 (link): Brooks, 29, is quietly one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus currently grades him as the No. 5 guard in the league. He’s signed through the 2020 season, although his contract does contain two void years in 2021-22 that are in place only for salary cap purposes.

AFC Rumors: Hopkins, Chiefs, Ragland

DeAndre Hopkins displayed his apparent dissatisfaction with the Texans known last week by staging a brief holdout, but the team is not discussing a new contract with the talented wideout. Rick Smith said, via James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link), no negotiations between Houston and Hopkins are transpiring right now.

The 24-year-old wideout, who is coming off back-to-back 1,200-plus-yard seasons, said on an NFL Network interview (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, on Twitter) he’s not stewing over his contract situation. “It’s not something I sit here and think about. … What goes on off the field works itself out,” Hopkins said during the interview.

Owner Bob McNair said previously that the fourth-year receiver’s contract was going to come up in due time. Hopkins is set to make $1.5MM this season. Houston exercised Hopkins’ fifth-year option, putting him on their 2017 books for $7.915MM. As of now, that figure would rank 20th among wideouts in terms of ’17 earnings.

Regarding Hopkins’ situation, which isn’t unique in today’s NFL, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes the 2011 CBA overcorrected the previous problem of underperforming rookies anchoring payrolls. In allowing teams to wait a minimum of three seasons before giving deserving rookies raises, Florio notes the league not instituting a device that would ensure non-busts received their due earnings penalizes the players who do reward teams by outperforming their contracts.

Here’s more from the AFC on preseason eve.

  • Clark Hunt told media (including Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star) Eric Fisher‘s contract negotiations spanned barely two weeks in late July leading up to training camp. The Chiefs signed the scrutinized left tackle to a four-year, $48MM extension.
  • Hunt envisions the Chiefs revisiting Eric Berry‘s contract after the season. The franchise’s chairman echoed the reports that said the Chiefs and the All-Pro safety were too far apart on terms by July 15. “As soon as we have an opportunity next year, we’ll sit down with his representatives and see if we can work out a scenario where he could finish his career here. … We couldn’t close the gap this year, but next year’s a different situation,” Hunt said. “I can’t say that there will be anything fundamentally that happens that would make it possible, but it’s certainly something that we’ll talk about.” Berry will make $10.86MM this year as part of the franchise tag, one the 27-year-old talent has not signed and is not expected to for a while.
  • As he said in an interview with PFR’s Zach Links, ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher does not foresee Berry being in the Chiefs’ long-term plans. The ESPN.com writer noted that simply a year passing and the sides being back at the negotiating table doesn’t mean either will compromise. Berry stands to be one of the most pursued free agents after this season, should the seventh-year safety reach the open market for the first time. The Chiefs are projected to possess just $6.7MM in cap space in ’17, and Dontari Poe will also be a free agent.
  • The Bills will work out free agent linebackers on Sunday after Rex Ryan backtracked on his statement saying Reggie Ragland likely avoided ligament damage after suffering a knee injury Friday, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Ryan said the team is “definitely concerned” about Ragland’s knee, via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (on Twitter). Buffalo’s second-round pick sustained the injury in a non-contact situation. The team is already expected to be without first-round pick Shaq Lawson for multiple games.
  • The Steelers are involved in multiple contract negotiations, with David DeCastro joining Antonio Brown as players with whom management is discussing deals.

Chiefs Sign Eric Fisher To Extension

The Chiefs and fourth-year starter Eric Fisher have agreed to a four-year extension, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). 

It’s a four-year, $48MM deal, Rand Getlin of NFL.com tweets. The contract includes $22MM guaranteed at signing, features a new-money average of $12MM per year, and will pay out $28.5MM by March of 2017.

Kansas City recently exercised Fisher’s fifth-year option worth $11.9MM. The former No. 1 overall pick was set to earn $3.4MM this season. He’ll now be one of the highest-paid tackles in football, and the Chiefs have their starting tackles — Fisher and recently acquired Mitchell Schwartz — locked up through the rest of the decade.

However, this deal looks somewhat surprising due to the nature of the commitment. Fisher will now become one of the highest-paid left tackles in football on a per-year basis. Fisher’s deal looks to place him firmly within the top-five commitments at the position, with Tyron Smith and Cordy Glenn also earning $12MM per year. Trent Williams and Terron Armstead reside as the league’s previous $13MM-per-year tackles, with the former’s $13.2MM AAV representing the previous high.

In terms of guarantees, Fisher did extremely well. Armstead received $20.8MM guaranteed at signing and $38MM in total guarantees. Fisher and Lane Johnson are the only 2013 first-rounders to be extended yet, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com points out (via Twitter).

Fisher is coming off his best season as a pro, but few consider him to be among the league’s best tackles. He began the year out of the starting lineup after suffering a high-ankle sprain during the preseason and was briefly relocated to right tackle as the underwhelming and since-departed Donald Stephenson was slotted on the left side the Chiefs drafted Fisher to play. Although Fisher eventually resumed play on the left side and became a key presence during the Chiefs’ 10-game win streak, Pro Football Focus graded the 6-foot-7 blocker as its No. 36 overall tackle.

That assessment is by far the kindest the analytics site has been to the lineman, one who began his career at right tackle in 2013 before Branden Albert departed before moving to the left side a year later and not being particularly effective. But Saturday’s announcement on the first day of training camp shows the organization’s faith in Fisher’s potential despite his talents being questioned by many.

From a macro perspective, the Chiefs continued their massive investment in their current core. Despite failing to hammer out a contract with franchise-tagged cog Eric Berry earlier this month, Kansas City entered Saturday with barely $4MM in projected cap room next season. The Chiefs re-signed several players this offseason and gave Travis Kelce a top-market extension. That comes after extending Alex Smith and Justin Houston.

As a result of these commitments, Kansas City stands to have almost no cap space in ’17 and few avenues to create much more. Berry and Dontari Poe are the only members of the Chiefs’ nucleus without long-term deals. GM John Dorsey previously said Berry remains firmly in the Chiefs’ plans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Jets, Dolphins, Chiefs, Broncos

On the heels of his six-interception 2015 campaign, third-year cornerback Marcus Williams could be the Jets’ most underrated player, opines Brian Costello of the New York Post. The former undrafted free agent from North Dakota State and ex-Texans practice squad member showed off impressive ball-hawking prowess last season despite serving as a fourth corner and playing just 27 percent of the Jets’ defensive snaps, and he’ll spend the next couple months battling Buster Skrine for a starting job opposite Darrelle Revis. As a contract-year player, Williams stands to earn a significant raise over his $600K salary by next offseason if he proves capable of filling a bigger role – whether as a starter or slot corner – in 2016.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • There’s a chance Dallas Thomas will beat out first-round pick Laremy Tunsil as the Dolphins’ starting left guard, which would be a nightmare for the team’s fans, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Thomas – whom Pro Football Focus ranked as the league’s second-worst guard among 81 qualifiers last season – seems to be ahead of Tunsil in the pecking order after the rookie struggled in minicamp, per Jackson. Tunsil, the 13th overall pick, was a dominant left tackle at Ole Miss and acknowledged that it’s not easy to learn a new position and playbook.
  • Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 draft, sees himself “on a steady incline” after transitioning back to the left side midway through last season, he told BJ Kissel of the team’s website. Fisher, whose pro career hasn’t lived up to his draft status, added that his impressive performance against the J.J. Watt-led Texans in the Chiefs’ 30-0 wild-card round victory “almost seemed like a little bit of a turning point in my career.” Having picked up Fisher’s $11.902 fifth-year option for 2017 in early May, the Chiefs are also clearly encouraged by the progress he made last season. That option is guaranteed for injury only, though, so if Fisher stays healthy and fares poorly this year, Kansas City will have the opportunity to reverse course.
  • Broncos general manager John Elway‘s competitiveness could be a roadblock in the way of a Von Miller deal, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. Kiszla wonders if the Hall of Fame quarterback can put aside his hatred of losing to reach a compromise with Miller, the franchise-tagged linebacker who’s fighting with the Broncos over the lack of guaranteed money in their six-year, $114.5MM offer. The two sides have until July 15 to reach an agreement; if that doesn’t happen, the reigning Super Bowl MVP’s only choices would be to sign the $14MM-plus franchise tender or continue sitting out.