Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
More changes on the #Chiefs offensive line: Starting center Austin Reiter will hit the free-agent market and is expected to land elsewhere, source said. With Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz cut today, Patrick Mahomes' protection is set to look at least 60% different in 2021.
Fisher, the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick, was heading into the final year of his four-year, $48 million contract extension, but the release frees up $12 million in cap space for Kansas City, per Spotrac.
Schwartz played just six games in 2020 before going on injured reserve with a back injury.
Reiter has spent the last three seasons with the Chiefs, playing more than 75 percent of the team's offensive snaps in each of the least two years, according to Pro Football Reference. Together the departures serve as the biggest change on offense since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over and will present a major hurdle heading into the 2021 season after back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network noted how the injuries affected the team's decision:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
While the dueling tackle releases are jarring, both are injury-related. Mitchell Schwartz recently had surgery and has decisions to make about his future, while Eric Fisher has a torn Achilles — an uphill battle to be ready for the season, though he is working hard at it. https://t.co/0yk1N68wW0
The pair of moves will save the Chiefs a combined $18 million in cap space, per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports.
These changes will still hurt on the field as each player helped anchor the offensive line in recent years.
Fisher earned his second Pro Bowl selection this past year, while Schwartz was named first- or second-team All-Pro in four straight seasons from 2016-19 before his injury-shortened 2020. They each played every snap of the Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Both were injured for Super Bowl LV, and the absence was notable as Patrick Mahomes was pressured a record 29 times, per ESPN Stats & Info. The usually dominant offense was limited to just nine points in the loss.
Releasing the two tackles now creates significant holes on the offensive line going into 2021 for a team that still has title aspirations. With Mike Remmers also a free agent after filling in for both players last season, tackle becomes a major priority for the Chiefs this offseason.