The entire NFL will have to be even more mindful of their spending this offseason, due to the pandemic. And the Kansas City Chiefs are just one of the teams in the league that are currently over the cap. As a result, long tenured veterans could be potential cap casualties and cut candidates. This could very well include the offensive tackles, in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz.
Quite honestly, both could very well be gone from Kansas City in 2021. As we will mention later, each of their cap hits are fairly steep. But in this scenario, we will say that one of the two will be brought back by the team. Would you rather only bring back Fisher? Or, would you rather only bring back Schwartz? In what is a difficult hypothetical to decipher on, let’s look into their contracts, injuries from last year and additional factors.
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Kadarius Toney
- This Or That: Eric Fisher Or Mitchell Schwartz?
- Staying Or Going: Chiefs 2021 Pending Free Agents
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Darius Stills
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Liam Eichenberg
Let’s start off with Schwartz. His last appearance in 2020 came in Week Six at the Buffalo Bills. A nagging back injury would end up keeping him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. Certainly, this is the type of ailment that you just always wish to avoid with football players. Especially, when it is an offensive lineman. On average, blockers have missed about double the time with this injury than players playing other positions. And the severity has been even worse in recent history when offensive linemen have back injuries. Maybe with the amount of time Schwartz has had since he last played, he could return more easily in 2021. Possibly, a minor surgery could help get him back to his old self.
On the other hand, Fisher has a much more questionable timetable upon playing again. Suffering a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, one would imagine he will miss a good handful of games in 2021. This is what makes the situation so difficult for both the player and team in this scenario. If Fisher were healthy, being able to restructure his contract could be a lot more plausible. We will focus on that more later. Overall, Fisher has dealt with substantial injuries over the last couple of years. He has usually bounced back with strong play when he returned to the lineup. However, there is no guarantee that will for sure happen again. Fisher was described to have suffered a pretty bad Achilles injury by Andy Reid. As questionable as the future is for Schwartz, Fisher’s could be more cloudy.
Per Spotrac, Schwartz holds a cap number of $10.005 million in 2021. This includes a salary of $4.905 million and a dead cap number of $3.75 million. Where does this get complicated for the Chiefs? The smaller salary creates an issue of lowering the cap figure. Add in the $3.75 million signing bonus prorated amount, and Kansas City is down to minimal options. If he is able to come back after a minor surgery as we mentioned earlier, for example, the Chiefs may feel that they can persuade him to take a reduced deal, with an ample amount of incentives. If that were the case, there is a possibility where Kansas City could realistically minimize his cap number to around $5 million or $6 million. That would be roughly half of what he is currently slated for in 2021.
For Fisher, he is entering the final year of his current contract. He holds a base salary of $11.25 million. Spotrac lists his cap number at an even heftier $15,181,668 for 2021. What if the Chiefs were to release the left tackle? They would actually save a large chunk of change at $12 million. Kansas City would still be stuck with taking on $3 million in dead cap without Fisher on the team, if that were the case. Nonetheless, for a team strapped for cash, Fisher appears to be the more doable contract to get out of. Throw his Achilles injury into the picture as well. If he were to miss say half of the season, Kansas City cannot let that current number stay in place. And that is if he is still on the team, obviously. Say they get rid of Schwartz and actually keep Fisher, the Chiefs could reduce his base salary significantly and offer him to play on a higher signing bonus number in 2021. That way they could save money for this offseason, and move money down the line to 2022 if necessary as well.
Impact On Chiefs
The other factor to consider here, is the impact that each blocker has made on the team. Starting with Schwartz, he had long been one of the more dependable right tackles in the league. He consistently started game after game, and allowed very little pressures to the quarterback. Yet, the team handled his loss fairly well during most of the season. Mike Remmers had a difficult time in the Super Bowl. Though, this was at left tackle against Tampa. He held the fort down well when tasked at right tackle. Remmers will likely not be back in 2021. However, the Chiefs showed they can replace the tackle on the right side much simpler than the left.
It is quite amazing to see how different the Chiefs offense has looked when Fisher has played, compared to when he has not. Over the last two seasons, the team is nearly perfect, holding a 26-1 record in 27 games with Fisher. Without Fisher? Kansas City is now 4-6 following the Super Bowl loss to Tampa. Patrick Mahomes can create space for himself really well. We know how dangerous he can become outside of the pocket. But just like any other passer, they need that stability in place as their blindside protector. Fisher has quietly come a long way since his early career struggles as a rookie.
It could be difficult to bring both back. We are going to force that one of the two returns in 2021, though. Go to the poll to cast your vote for either of the offensive tackles: Retain Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz?
The contract of Fisher may be easier to get out of. The left tackle is the one who I would vouch for to bring back to the fold. You can always move Fisher’s money down the line to 2022 a bit. And as we saw in 2020, Kansas City showed they can replace Schwartz easier than previously imagined. Fisher has just been so vital to this offense recently too. Above anything else, that is the major reason as to why I personally chose Fisher.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs This Or That hypothetical articles throughout this 2021 offseason. We will post them on Tuesday and Thursday. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.