In two massive moves ahead of the start of the new NFL league year, the Kansas City Chiefs have released both of their longtime starting tackles, left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
The two moves were reported within minutes of each other, creating a total of $18.25 million in salary cap space for the Chiefs but losing the team's starting left and right tackles from recent years.
Fisher and Schwartz both suffered significant injuries in the 2020 season, with Schwartz missing the majority of the year due to a back injury and Fisher suffering an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills.
These moves come in stark contrast to what Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said about the timelines for Fisher and Schwartz's returns on March 1.
"Mitch just recently had his disc worked on, and we’re hopeful for him to return to training camp, and the same thing with Fish," Veach said just 10 days before Fisher and Schwartz were released. "So, we’re hopeful both these guys can complete the rehab and be available for training camp and start the 2021 season. I would probably say Pat is ahead of them just because of that type of injury and probably a quicker recovery, but hopefully we’ll have all three ready to go by training camp."
Veach addressed the moves in a press release following the news.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Eric and Mitchell," Veach said. "With Eric, obviously he was the very first player that we drafted when we got to Kansas City, and we were able to watch him grow into a solid tackle for us for many years. With Mitchell, his durability and toughness is remarkable and he certainly left his mark on our team. These decisions are never easy, especially with guys like these, but both of these players will forever be a part of our history."
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid also gave his thoughts on Fisher and Schwartz's time in Kansas City in the same press release.
"I’d like to thank Eric and Mitch for all of their contributions over the years," Reid said. "Every day both of these men came to work with the right attitude, ready to grind, both on the field and in the classroom. These guys are both dirty tough, but beyond that, they’re good people and I enjoyed coaching them. I wish them the best as they continue their careers."
Fisher announced his release on his Instagram, saying goodbye to Kansas City and the franchise who selected him No. 1 overall in 2013.
“Catch and Release”
Time to complete the second part of the play call. At the time, I thought the “catch” part of the play was going to be the hard part. Six months later that thought has changed. I have been released.
Rewind eight years, and there are a whole lot of memories that I’ll be blessed to take with me from my time in Kansas City. I’ll never forget landing at MCI the day after the draft and smiling because it felt like home. I’ll never forget running out of the tunnel for the first time to the loudest fans in the world. I’ll never forget the struggles that I faced that eventually built me into the man, and player that I am today. I’ll never forget bringing a playoff win home for the first time in twenty two years. I’ll never forget going on winning streaks that would make history. I’ll never forget the three AFC championship games in a row in Arrowhead Stadium.
I’ll never forget the clock hitting zero and that feeling of achieving the ultimate goal in football. I’ll never forget hearing Touchdown Kannnnnsas City with the ball in my hands.
That list could go on and on because we really did something special in those eight years. I wouldn’t change a thing. Mentally, I’m leaving knowing I have grown to be who I need to be. Physically, I’m leaving with my head held high, beat up but not down for the count. Spiritually, I couldn’t praise God enough for blessing my life in ways that I couldn’t have wrapped my brain around in a million years.
Unfortunately I knew this time would come at some point. Sooner than I would have chose, but another opportunity to beat the odds.
All good things must come to an end.
Thank you Kansas City.
Later Thursday afternoon, Schwartz wrote his thanks and goodbye to the Chiefs in a tweet.
"Thanks to the Chiefs for an incredible 5 years," Schwartz tweeted. "The experience was everything I dreamed it would be and more. The organization, my teammates and coaches, and the best fans in football! My focus is on rehab and recovery – we’ll see what the future holds. Thank you Chiefs Kingdom!"
What's next for the Chiefs' offensive line as the offseason continues? Click here for analysis of where Kansas City goes from here.