The KC Chiefs’ offense has been marked by the steadiness of the offensive tackles, as Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz helped hold down the ends of the line.
Now, after injuries have taken a toll on both tackles, there is the very real possibility, as we look toward the 2021 season and beyond, that the Kansas City Chiefs offense will need to start a new era at both offensive tackle spots.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz individually, why they may not come back (and how they can) and who might replace them if they are let go. The Chiefs currently have some issues with the salary cap but are in a position to create a significant amount of room with some flexible contracts.
The KC Chiefs and Eric Fisher are both in tough spots this offseason.
Eric Fisher was the player entering the offseason who I believed would return for next season. However, after his Achilles injury against Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game, I’m not so sure he will return. Circumstances with both the Chiefs and Fisher himself could create a new deal, or create a veteran free agent.
Fisher is entering the last year of his contract and due a cap number of $15,181,668 million per Spotrac. He has a base salary of $11.250 million. If the Chiefs do opt to release the veteran tackle, the team will save right at $12 million (taking a $3 million dead number).
The complicating factor is that, due to the injury, Fisher is likely to miss a significant portion of the 2021 season, perhaps a number greater than the first half of the season. How can the Chiefs put themselves into a position to carry Fisher, on his current salary on the last year of his contract, if he will basically not play?
The answer is they can’t.
A solution could be adding a year to the Fisher contract, and moving a massive portion of the salary he is due in 2021 to 2022. Reduce his salary this season all the way down to the veteran minimum and throw in a signing bonus of some kind, maybe a $2 million salary and a $6 million signing bonus to be prorated out over the 2021 and 2022 season. That move saves the Chiefs $7 million against the cap this season, reducing his total cap charge to $8,181,668 million.
Fisher would be amenable to a new deal because the market for football players with significant injuries who could miss a massive portion of the season is not strong. By agreeing to this deal, Fisher at least gets something this season and has a contract for the following season.
The Chiefs likely can’t count on Fisher next season, but his contract does allow the organization to create cap room for the team while also ensuring that he still has a home. The cap room can be used to find a player to replace him on the left side, ensuring neither he nor the Chiefs are forced to rush back before he’s ready.