Mitchell Schwartz

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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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.

Chiefs Sign Mitchell Schwartz To Extension

The Chiefs and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz agreed to terms on a one-year extension, according to an announcement from his agent. With the add-on, Schwartz will be under contract with Kansas City through the 2021 season. 

Schwartz, 30, joined the Chiefs on a five-year, $33MM deal prior to the 2016 season. Since then, he’s lived up to his contract by continuing the strong play he exhibited over the first four years of his career with the Browns.

Schwartz has yet to miss a game in his NFL career and, last year, he earned his first ever First-Team All-Pro nod. It was a banner year for Schwartz, and the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus supported that. Schwartz finished out with an overall grade of 83.6, good for fourth among all offensive tackles, stationing him behind only David Bakhtiari, Terron Armstead, and Andrew Whitworth.

Exact terms of the additional year are not yet known. In each of the next two seasons, Schwartz will carry a reasonable $8MM cap figure.

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Chiefs Sign Mitchell Schwartz

THURSDAY, 4:05pm: The Chiefs announced that they have officially signed Schwartz.

WEDNESDAY, 8:18pm: Schwartz’s five-year pact is worth up to $33MM, including $15MM guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). It also features a $7MM signing bonus and salaries of $750K, $4.9MM, $5.7MM, and then $6MM for the final two years. His base salaries for 2016 and 2017 are fully guaranteed, while his 2018 salary will be guaranteed if he’s injured. If Schwartz is healthy in 2018 and still on the roster by the third day of the league year, his salary will be guaranteed (Twitter link via Wilson).

4:18pm: The Chiefs have agreed in principle to a deal with offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, tweets Rand Getlin of NFL.com. It will be a five-year deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Mitchell Schwartz

It had been quite a day regarding rumors surrounding Schwartz, as dueling reports indicated that Schwartz was at various stages of negotiation to remain with the Browns. When Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that Cleveland had pulled its offer to Schwartz, it was fair to wonder if the club was merely posturing, trying to force Schwartz into accepting their latest offer.

Whatever the case, Schwartz will not be returning to the Browns, and he’ll instead head to Kansas City, which has already lost two of its own offensive lineman to free agency in the past 24 hours. Donald Stephenson, who played both left and right tackle for the Chiefs, has agreed to join the division-rival Broncos, while Jeff Allen — primarily a guard, but he can play tackle as well — will latch on with the Texans.

Schwartz, though, is clearly a superior talent to both of those players — PFR ranked Schwartz as the No. 19 overall free agent, and the No. 2 offensive tackle, behind only Russell Okung. An extremely durable player, Schwartz hasn’t missed a single start since entering the league in 2012. He’d been productive in past seasons, but 2015 was truly his coming out party, as he ranked as the sixth-best tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

As noted, the Chiefs have lost a few players to free agency, but they’ve also kept one, agreeing to a new deal with defender Tamba Hali. They’re also in the mix to retain corner Sean Smith, and are negotiating to re-sign Derrick Johnson. The Browns, meanwhile, have now lost both Schwartz and Alex Mack from their offensive line, as well as receiver Travis Benjamin.

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