After a daunting 31-9 Super Bowl LV loss, the Kansas City Chiefs The offensive line quickly became the team’s most pressing problem in order to solve this offseason for most of the fans.
Many of the issues exposed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers onslaught during the championship finals were the result of a series of injuries and COVID-19 opt-outs that transformed Patrick Mahomes‘Once a stable front into a unit that contained only one week one starter – Center Austin Reiter – by the end of the season. Now with the new league year and free agency rapidly approaching on March 17th, the microscope is zooming in as the Chiefs can revive their offensive line to better protect the $ 503 million investment.
Last week, ESPN was the newest outlet to find the right all-pro device Mitchell Schwartz as a player should appeal to Kansas City – and for good reason.
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The case of going on from Schwartz
In a recent ESPN recap highlighting a “daring” hypothetical off-season move for all 32 teams, Football Outsiders suggested the Chiefs who are yet to be dismissed about $ 19 million Trade or cut Schwartz for financial relief.
Here was the justification for moving over ESPN::
Moving either Safety Bully Mathieu or Eric Fisher to the left would bring the greatest relief, but both players feel too valuable to let go. The next best option is Schwartz, who will make $ 10 million with a dead-cap hit of $ 3.75 million. It’s not ideal, especially considering what just happened to the Chiefs offensive line when it wasn’t on the Super Bowl line-up, but the Chiefs are running out of opportunities to make money out of their current cap situation .
Schwartz is still a capable player, make no mistake. He helped the Chiefs get a solid 14th place on ESPN’s Pass Block win rate in 2019 (his last full season). However, Schwartz has now sustained a back injury that got him out of the way in week 6 of last season. It is entirely possible that such an injury could drive Schwartz into decline, especially since he is already over 30 years old. Again, this won’t be an easy step for the Chiefs, but something has to give this off-season.
Before the elimination in week 6, the earlier 2012 second-round draft pick had started all 134 career games so far. As mentioned earlier, if the Chiefs decide to step with Schwartz, his back injury will likely play a huge role in any decision.
Spotrac had already highlighted Schwartz as a potential cap victim in December 2021 NFL Roster Bubble List.
Schwartz had a successful back operation on February 25th
The nine-year veteran, who turns 32 on June 8, finally had his back operated on last week after trying to “recover enough during the season to get back on the field,” which he did did confirmed on Instagram.
Head coach Andy Reid and the Chief’s medical staff played it safe with their right start throughout the season. This decision was supported by the presence of veteran Mike Remmers, who did an admirable job for Schwartz. While the fan favorite also stated on Instagram last week that “the recovery process isn’t too long,” the situation still puts Kansas City in a tough spot if they really want to move on.
This is only compounded by the season-end Achilles who suffered from the start of the left tackle Eric Fisher An injury in the waning moments of the AFC championship game that could keep the former number 1 overall paused in the early next regular season.
Trading Schwartz or Fisher is unlikely, but cuts are still possible
Fortunately, starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and third-placed Lucas Niang from 2020 are expected to return to the club in 2021. Reiter, Remmers and former start guard Kelechi Osemele (who has recovered from his own knee injuries at the end of the season) have all hit the open market.
The type of injuries that both Schwartz and Fisher deal with isn’t ideal for offensive linemen, especially with both on the other side of the 30-year-old. According to SpotracBoth contracts also expire in 2022, although a cut from Fisher that year would actually bring nearly double the cap savings ($ 12 million versus $ 6.2 million from Schwartz), while doing roughly the same amount of Dead Cap ($ 3.8 million versus $ 3.2 million by Schwartz) is assumed. Given that there is less than $ 700,000 in Dead Cap on their books this year, it’s difficult to imagine the front office looking to take nearly five times that in one transaction and put the financial burden on the streets.
In either case, the health of both tackles makes a trade unlikely as the teams rightly hesitate to give up more than one late or conditional selection in order to take such a risk. If the Chiefs decide to step up with Fisher or Schwartz instead, expect a full clearance instead, where the team fills the vacancy with an alternative for mid- and lower-priced freelance agents and / or an investment in the April draft .
Chris Licata is an NFL employee covering the Kansas City Chiefs from hostile territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chief’s Facebook community for the latest from Chiefs Kingdom!