INDIANAPOLIS – If the health cooperates, the Colts have replaced Anthony Castonzo with a former No. 1 overall pick who has won a Super Bowl.
But that health question mark is a major reason why Eric Fisher was released by the Chiefs earlier this offseason and remained unemployed for another two months.
The Colts hope that the health box is checked for Fisher after they signed the big man to a reported deal of 1-year, $9.4 million, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
On his Instagram page, Fisher said this about joining a new team for the first time in his NFL career:
“Let’s get after it Indy! Excited to announce that I am a Colt!! Super pumped for this opportunity to bounce back and have a great season with an incredible organization. Thank you to the Irsay family, Chris Ballard, and Coach Reich for believing in me to get the job done. Can’t wait to get to work and win BIG!”
Fisher tore his Achilles back on January 24th, during the Chiefs’ AFC Championship victory of the Bills. Before suffering that injury, Fisher had been chosen to his second Pro Bowl (almost made it in 2018).
When Fisher will be ready to go this season, and how healthy can he stay, will be massive for the Colts trying to shore up the final piece of their offensive line puzzle.
If healthy, Fisher’s presence at left tackle should help the Colts maintain their place among one of the better offensive lines in football.
This move also further confirms that the Colts will keep Quenton Nelson (at left guard) and Braden Smith (at right tackle) at the spots they play the best. That’s a win moving forward for the success of the entire unit.
Of all the free agent tackles thrown around for the Colts over the past few weeks, a healthy Fisher always seemed to be the best option.
Injuries have been a major storyline though for Fisher each of the last two years.
In 2019, a core injury sidelined Fisher for half that season.
Then in this past year’s postseason, it was that torn Achilles which Fisher is now rehabbing.
As the 30-year-old Fisher was rehabbing earlier this year, Chiefs GM Brett Veach said he thought the 6-7, 315-pounder could be cleared by mid-August.
That would be great news for the Colts.
Fisher was drafted by the Chiefs No. 1 overall in 2013. About two weeks after Fisher went No. 1 overall to the Chiefs, Chris Ballard was hired by the Kansas City personnel department. Ballard then watched Fisher make the transition over to left tackle, after playing right tackle as a rookie. At left tackle, Fisher has started 100 of a possible 112 games since 2014.
During last month’s NFL draft, as the Colts spent 7 picks without taking a left tackle, Jim Irsay addressed the unanswered situation at left tackle.
“I’ve talked to Chris and obviously Frank Reich, whose offense is looking to unfold under this scenario, we had a lot of conversations about it,” Irsay said in life after Anthony Castonzo. “Going into the first two picks (this weekend) and seeing what might materialize, we weren’t in a panic mode, and we believe that if we were playing a couple weeks from now that we would have an outstanding offensive line with (Sam Tevi at left tackle).
“And we’re just going to see where we go from here and what other opportunities present themselves. Still, September is a long way away, and a lot of other things and possibilities could come up. We’re going to look at all possibilities that could help us.”
As long as Fisher is healthy, he’s the left tackle for Carson Wentz.
If need be, the Colts will likely turn to Sam Tevi at left tackle early in the season, if Fisher’s rehab lingers into the fall.
The signing of Fisher doesn’t solve the long-term question remaining at left tackle, but it offers the possibility of this O-line staying upper echelon in 2021, which is critical for Wentz’s success.
If the health checks out, the Colts will have found a veteran option who is much closer to level of player Anthony Castonzo was, than many thought was possible this offseason.