Mitchell Schwartz

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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Chiefs RT Mitchell Schwartz Undergoes Back Surgery

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers was a result of a number of factors, but chief (!) among them was the absence of starting offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Without his two OL bookends, Patrick Mahomes was victimized by Tampa’s relentless pass rush, and Kansas City’s top-flight offense was unable to establish any sort of rhythm.

Schwartz, who suffered a back injury in October that ended his streak of 134 consecutive regular-season starts, underwent back surgery today, as Adam Teicher of ESPN.com relays. Schwartz posted a picture of himself in his hospital bed on Instagram, and luckily for the Chiefs, he says his recovery is not expected to take too long.

“It’s time to address the issue since it isn’t going away on its own,” he wrote. “The recovery process isn’t too long, hence being able to wait until now to do it, otherwise I would have done this earlier. Looking forward to a healthy 2021!”

It sounds like Schwartz, who will turn 32 in June, will 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 he has doubtlessly been one of the best right tackles in the game since he entered the league as a second-round pick of the Browns in 2012.

He is due to earn just $4.9MM in base salary this season — the last of his current contract — but will carry a $10MM cap hit. Still, given his value to the team, that cap charge does not seem particularly onerous, though the Chiefs could consider an extension to create more flexibility. The club is roughly $23MM over the cap at the moment.

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Chiefs’ Mitchell Schwartz Out For Super Bowl?

The Chiefs beat the Bills without the services of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Odds are, they’ll have to face the Buccaneers without him too. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters that he’s not “optimistic about” Schwartz’s chances of playing in the Super Bowl. (Twitter link via Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star). 

[RELATED: Chiefs’ Eric Fisher Tears Achilles]

Schwartz‘s iron-man streak was snapped at 134 games, thanks to an October back injury. The All-Pro blocker tackle has recovering since Week 6 and attempting to get back on the field. The 31-year-old, who has long been one of the NFL’s top right tackles, will likely wind up as a fan on Super Bowl Sunday.

Schwartz spent four years with the Browns before joining the Chiefs on a five-year, $33MM deal prior to the 2016 season. Then, in 2019, the Chiefs tacked on an additional year. He’s lived up to both contracts, though his back injury may impede him going forward.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have also learned that they’ll be without left tackle Eric Fisher against the Bucs. After Fisher tore his Achilles against the Bills, the Chiefs placed Mike Remmers on the opposite side, kicked Andrew Wylie to the interior, and brought in swingman Stefen Wisniewski. That’ll be the likely arrangement on Feb. 7.

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AFC Notes: Watt, Green, Chiefs, Gordon, Pats

Vocal about his frustration with the Texans‘ situation, J.J. Watt is on track to play in 16 games for just second time in the past five seasons. Although a midseason report tabbed the future Hall of Fame defensive lineman as a “virtual lock” to be traded in the offseason, Watt has one season remaining on his Texans deal. He acknowledged his contract — a six-year, $100MM 2014 pact that has since been lapped by a few younger D-linemen — will need to be addressed in 2021.

There’s a whole lot of unknowns in that situation. We’ll see what happens,” Watt said, via Fox 26’s Mark Berman (video link). “I don’t have any guarantees left in my contact, so something’s got to happen one way or another. I’m not sure. There’s too many unknowns.”

Thanks to the Laremy Tunsil deal, the Texans do not have first- or second-round picks in next year’s draft. Despite Watt’s contributions, Houston’s defense ranks near the bottom of the NFL. And the team does not have many long-term cornerstones on offense beyond Tunsil or Deshaun Watson. Watt, 31, would be an interesting 2021 trade chip — should the Texans attempt to collect assets for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year — but the prospect of a new Watt contract in a year when the cap is set to decline would seemingly affect his market.

Here is the latest from the AFC heading into Week 17:

  • Another superstar from the 2011 draft class, A.J. Green may be set for his final Bengals game Sunday. The former perennial Pro Bowler has seen his role in Cincinnati’s offense reduced, despite playing on the franchise tag, and acknowledged Sunday might be it for him in western Ohio. “If this is my last game, I had an unbelievable 10 years here,” Green said (via ESPN.com’s Ben Baby, on Twitter) Thursday. The Bengals did not let Green test free agency this year, which understandably led to frustration from the veteran, and 2021 figures to be a crowded marketplace for wideouts. Green, 32, stayed healthy this year but has just 47 receptions for 523 yards — a distant third among Bengals.
  • The Broncos will have a decision to make at running back soon. They have Phillip Lindsay looming as an RFA, and Melvin Gordon‘s DUI arrest has him facing a three-game suspension — one that would stand to void the remaining guarantees on his two-year, $16MM deal. “Hopefully I did enough for them to want to keep me here,” Gordon said, via 9News’ Mike Klis. Gordon has rushed for 893 yards in 14 games but has a career-low 141 receiving yards.
  • A back injury ended Mitchell Schwartz‘s iron-man streak at 134 games; the Chiefs‘ All-Pro right tackle has been out since Week 6. Andy Reid said the veteran right tackle is making progress but was vague on a return timeline, per the Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope (on Twitter). Another report, via the Star’s Sam Mellinger (on Twitter), indicated Schwartz is not expected to return this season. Schwartz, 31, has long been one of the NFL’s top right tackles. His absence would obviously make a Chiefs repeat championship more difficult.
  • Brandon Bolden was one of the eight Patriots to opt out because of COVID-19 concerns, but the longtime backup running back/special-teamer plans to play in 2021. The 30-year-old back tweeted he wants to return next season, though it is not certain if the Patriots will bring him back. Thanks to Bolden’s 2020 money tolling, he is under contract next year on a $1.3MM base salary.

Chiefs Place Mitchell Schwartz On IR

Mitchell Schwartz has seen his iron-man run stop this season, having missed time due to injury. The Chiefs will now be without their ace right tackle for a while.

Kansas City placed Schwartz on IR Saturday. This move will sideline the All-Pro blocker for at least three more games. Schwartz is dealing with a back injury — one that has shelved him since Week 6.

Prior to the October injury, Schwartz had not missed a game in eight seasons. He had started four years with the Browns and another four with the Chiefs. Kansas City gave Schwartz an extension in the process, relying on his stability as Eric Fisher underwent surgery last season. Both Fisher and Schwartz landed on Kansas City’s reserve/COVID-19 list recently, but Fisher will be back in action against Las Vegas. Schwartz will not.

The Chiefs also removed Mecole Hardman from their reserve/COVID list. They had placed the second-year wideout on the virus list last week. Hardman should play a key role against the Raiders, with Sammy Watkins set to miss the AFC West rivals’ Week 11 rematch.

Kansas City is also activating Alex Okafor and defensive back L’Jarius Sneed from IR. Okafor worked as a starter last season, but a midseason injury knocked him out for the team’s Super Bowl push. A hamstring injury sidelined Okafor this season. A fourth-round rookie, Sneed played well early this year but suffered a broken collarbone in September. Okafor will help out a Chiefs pass rush that will be without Taco Charlton for a while. The Chiefs placed the offseason acquisition on IR Saturday.

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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.

Chiefs Place DE Alex Okafor On IR

While they cannot match their Sunday opponent for impactful injuries, the Chiefs will enter Week 7 missing some key players.

Alex Okafor will miss Sunday’s tilt in Denver and at least two more contests. The Chiefs placed the veteran defensive end on IR Saturday. Okafor has encountered a hamstring issue.

Okafor, All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wideout Sammy Watkins are out Sunday for the Chiefs. Okafor will land on IR for the second straight season. The Chiefs placed the 2019 free agent acquisition on IR after 10 games last season, with a torn pec preventing the veteran pass rusher from playing during the team’s Super Bowl push.

Okafor’s latest injury is not as severe, but it will test Kansas City’s depth a bit. The Chiefs are also without 2020 free agent get Taco Charlton this week. The defending Super Bowl champs have used contract-year defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon ahead of Okafor on their depth chart this season. After Okafor started nine games in 2019, he has worked as a rotational rusher this year. Okafor has a half-sack in 2020.

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