The Kansas City Chiefs famously played Super Bowl LV without both of their starting offensive tackles. Now they're officially moving on from the veterans.
"I'd like to thank Eric and Mitch for all of their contributions over the years," coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "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."
Both players are coming off injuries.
Fisher and Schwartz will be joined in free agency by starting center Austin Reiter, as NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported the team doesn't plan to re-sign him. Reiter is expected to land elsewhere, he added.
Schwartz, considered the top right tackle in the NFL when healthy, missed 10 games last season due to a back injury. He recently underwent back surgery and suggested he planned to return this season. A back injury for an offensive lineman can be a career-ender, so retirement can't be ruled out.
After four years in Cleveland, Schwartz moved to K.C., where he spent the past five seasons establishing himself as a rock on the right side. While left tackles get most of the attention, Schwartz proved that a dominant right side is also a huge asset given how much pass rushers move around. He earned All-Pro honors in 2018. Cutting him clears $6.25 million in cap space.
Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, has spent his entire career with the Chiefs, starting 113 games and earning two Pro Bowl bids, including in 2020. Fisher suffered an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship Game.
The 30-year-old left tackle took to Instagram to say his goodbye to K.C.
Cutting Fisher saves the Chiefs $11.96 million on the salary cap with $3.18 million in dead money.
Clearing cap space was a necessity, with K.C. currently projected to be above the $182.5 million salary cap.
The Chiefs missing both Schwartz and Fisher was a highly publicized narrative ahead of Super Bowl LV that proved to be a significant storyline when the game started. The Buccaneers' defensive line overwhelmed their replacements, discombobulating Patrick Mahomes, who clearly didn't have the same trust as he showed in the veterans.
Moving on from both tackles adds to the major questions along K.C.'s offensive line. Along with replacing Schwartz and Fisher, four other top O-linemen are slated to be free agents, including guard Kelechi Osemele.
The Chiefs drafted tackle Lucas Niang out of TCU in the third round last year, but he opted out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, missing his rookie season. Niang is likely a top candidate to slide into one of the tackle spots.