Trey Pipkins

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/21/20

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Promoted from practice squad: OL Danny Isidora
  • Waived: TE Kevin Rader

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

 

COVID-19 Latest: Bubble, Ravens, Vaccine

Despite skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers nationwide, the NFL’s stance remains that postseason games will occur at team venues. Although no final decision has surfaced, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills and union president J.C. Tretter providing anti-bubble statements provides a good indication no one- or two-site postseason will commence. This pours cold water on an in-case-of-emergency bubble scenario the league was considering last month. But no real bubble momentum has emerged since the pandemic began.

There’s not magic about a bubble. In fact, there’s the same challenges within a bubble. Let’s be clear: COVID-19 does not fear a bubble,” Tretter said. “The vulnerability inside a bubble is the same, which is full compliance of protocol at all times. We believe that it’s all about compliance, and compliance with the things that we know avoid risk is important, whether you’re all together in an isolated environment, or whether you’re in your community.

It’s all about the daily measures that work — mask-wearing, avoidance of sick individuals, rapid reporting of symptoms, good hand hygiene, physical distance, avoiding those high-risk exposures. Those principles won’t change.”

The NBA’s Orlando bubble produced zero positive COVID tests for several weeks, however, and Major League Baseball’s multi-site bubble setup did not produce a positive case until the Justin Turner saga in Game 6 of the World Series. While the NFL has bulked up its coronavirus protocols as the season has progressed, the league going without a postseason bubble stands to bring greater chances star players miss playoff games — especially with the coronavirus environment having changed since the NBA and MLB postseasons.

Here is the latest from the virus front:

  • The Ravens are steadily seeing players return to work after testing positive for the virus. The team activated Mark Andrews and Matt Judon from its reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, putting both starters in line to face the Browns on Monday night. Both players missed two Baltimore games.
  • Ditto for James Conner. After missing the past two Steelers games, Conner is back on Pittsburgh’s active roster after his positive virus test.
  • The Panthers placed eight players on their virus list earlier this week but have since moved one of them back to their active roster. While it is unknown which members of that octet are COVID-positive, Greg Little is not. The Panthers removed the second-year tackle from their virus list Wednesday.
  • Chargers starting tackle Trey Pipkins is back on the virus list. The Bolts placed the second-year blocker on their list for the second time this season. Because he was identified as a close contact of then-COVID-positive center Ryan Groy, Pipkins landed on Los Angeles’ virus list for one day in late October.
  • The NFL is proceeding as if a vaccine will not be available to its players and staff this season. Although multiple vaccines are in the final stages, Sills and the NFLPA concur players should not be receiving vaccines at the same juncture that front-line workers or at-risk members of the population will, Twitter links via the Washington Post’s Mark Maske and SI.com’s Albert Breer. Vaccines, however, figure to have a massive impact on the 2021 season.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/31/20

Here is the league’s avalanche of Halloween minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Chargers Sign Third-Round Pick Trey Pipkins

The Chargers have officially wrapped up their draft class, as the team announced they’ve signed offensive tackle Trey Pipkins to his rookie contract. Pipkins, the 91st pick in April’s draft, was the last player in Los Angeles’ class to sign.

Pipkins played at D-II school Sioux Falls, so not a ton was known about him entering the draft. The first player in program history to be drafted into the NFL, Pipkins was a D-II All-American last season. The Chargers likely didn’t anticipate Pipkins playing much early on when they drafted him, but he could be forced into action. Left tackle Russell Okung is dealing with a mysterious injury, which could give Pipkins an opportunity sooner than expected.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein viewed him as a developmental prospect, and someone who would need a good amount of time to sit and learn. As such, it won’t be good news for the Chargers if he’s thrust into action due to Okung’s injury.

Third round picks are often among the last to sign, because the CBA language concerning them is very vague. As of Thursday, there were only 26 picks left unsigned. You can view the contract status of every draft pick at our tracker here.