Lucas Niang

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 Rookie Lucas Niang To Opt Out

Chiefs offensive tackle Lucas Niang will opt out of the 2020 season, according to a source who spoke with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). With hours to go before the deadline, the third-round pick becomes the 61st player to make the call.

[RELATED: PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker]

It’s yet another blow to the Chiefs’ offensive line, following guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif‘s opt out decision. As of this writing, the Chiefs are down three players in total between Niang, LDT, and running back Damien Williams.

Niang was set to support starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. The TCU product is green, but the Chiefs saw big potential for the 6’6″, 315-pound lineman. Heading into his senior year, Niang was widely projected as a first-round pick, but a torn labrum brought his final collegiate campaign to an early end. In turn, his stock tumbled, bringing the Chiefs a potential mid-round steal.

For the full list of opt out decisions around the NFL, check out PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Wrap Draft Class

The Chiefs have verbally agreed to deals with all six players in their draft class, as Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets. Here’s the full rundown of the group, headlined by one of this year’s most intriguing rushers: 

1-32: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (LSU)
2-63: Willie Gay Jr., LB (Mississippi State)
3-96: Lucas Niang, OT (TCU)
4-138: L’Jarius Sneed, S (Louisiana Tech)
5-177: Mike Danna, DE (Michigan)
7-237: Thakarius Keyes, CB (Tulane)

Don’t let Edwards-Helaire’s 5’7″ frame fool you – he’s tough, durable, and a proven three-down back. His agility and soft hands made him one of this year’s most coveted rookie RBs, though some evaluators were concerned about his speed. That’s not a huge problem in KC, where they already have ample quickness on offense.

The LSU product is expected to serve as the Chiefs’ top running back, ahead of Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson. Elijah McGuire, Darrel Williams, and former Raiders rusher DeAndre Washington are also on the offseason roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Shenault, Wills, Moss, Niang

One of the many high-end wide receiver prospects in this draft, Colorado product Laviska Shenault will need surgery. Shenault will undergo a procedure that will sideline him for more than a month, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The surgery is scheduled for next week, per Troy Renck of Denver7 (on Twitter). Shenault did not run well in this week’s 40-yard dash, clocking 4.58 seconds, and this injury helps explain that. The early-entry wideout is dealing with a core muscle injury and pubic bone inflammation, per Schefter. Shenault did not run a second 40. This could impact Shenault’s draft stock, but even given his injury history and the abundance of wide receivers in this class, it is unlikely he will fall out of the second round. The 6-foot-1, 227-pound wideout has been on the draft radar for a while, beginning with a 1,011-yard, nine-touchdown 2018 sophomore season.

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • One prospect who might’ve seen his draft stock dip this week was Alabama offensive lineman Jedrick Wills. Wills seemed to be a lock to be a first-round pick as an offensive tackle, but it looks like a position change could be in his future. Some teams have taken him off their tackle boards all together and are projecting him as a guard at the next level, per Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com, who writes that this is causing his stock to slip and that teams are “concerned about his ability to mentally process a complex blocking scheme.”
  • LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss, the son of the legendary Randy Moss, got some tough injury news at the combine. His physical revealed a Jones fracture in his foot and he will undergo surgery, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Pelissero notes that he’ll be ready well in advance of the regular season, this will unfortunately cause him to miss a good chunk of his first offseason program. Moss bursted onto the scene out of nowhere this past season, and had been regarded as a late riser and potential Day 2 pick. It’s unclear but this could hurt his stock a bit.
  • There was also some good medical news, as TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang got a positive report following his November hip surgery, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapoport writes that Niang is now considered one of the top offensive tackles in the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had him going 77th overall in a recent mock draft, although he could go higher with this fresh clean bill of health.