How do the Chiefs re-define their offensive line after releasing Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz?

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Doug Farrar
·3 min read
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The 2021 salary cap bloodbath continues, as NFL teams try to navigate a world in which the 2021 cap of $182.5 million represented an unprecedented reduction from 2020’s $198.2 million figure. Among the teams now most affected by this are the defending AFC champion Kansas Chiefs, who were thumped 31-9 in Super Bowl LV by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their dominant pass rush.

Not that the Buccaneers’ pass rush needed to be dominant, because the Chiefs were rolling without Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, their two starting left tackles. As a result, and with Mike Remmers replacing Fisher at left tackle and Andrew Wylie replacing Schwartz on the right side, Patrick Mahomes was pressured as he’d never been before — 36 of his 51 dropbacks came under pressure, and he completed just nine of 26 passes when hit or hurried.

Now, in two moves designed to free up salary cap space, the Chiefs announce the releases of both Fisher and Schwartz.

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The Chiefs do get some pretty serious relief. Fisher’s release frees up $11,25 million, while Schwartz’s release saves a cap hit of $10,005 million.

Fisher missed the Super Bowl with a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in the AFC Championship game against the Bills, while Schwartz hadn’t played since Week 6 with back issues.

These releases make sense from all these perspectives, but of course the question now is… what the heck do the Chiefs do to build their line back up? It’s possible that 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang from TCU could get a shot at right tackle — he allowed just one sack and 32 total pressures in four years with the Horned Frogs, though he opted out of his rookie season with the Chiefs.

Beyond that, there are options in both the draft and free agency. Trent Williams might be cost-prohibitive, but Russell Okung, Riley Reiff, and Alejandro Villanueva might represent lower-cost options.

As for the draft, the Chiefs have eight overall picks, including compensatory picks, and they start with the 31st overall selection. There, they might be able to avail themselves of scheme fits such as Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker, or Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood. With the 63rd overall pick in the second round, North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz, who worked in a heavily-schemed passing game with a massively successful running quarterback in Trey Lance, would seem to be an ideal fit.

The Chiefs do have two gifted and experienced O-line experts in head coach Andy Reid and offensive line coach Andy Heck, which is a nice way to start this particular rebuild.