Brett Veach: Eric Fisher injury, Mitchell Schwartz surgery raised urgency for OL changes

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After struggling to protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV, the Chiefs have overhauled their offensive line this offseason.

Depending on how you look at it, the line could include five new starters when Kansas City lines up Week 1. While Mike Remmers is expected to play right tackle for the club again in 2021 after starting the majority of the season in that spot last year, he took over the position when Mitchell Schwartz suffered a back injury.

Elsewhere on the line, the Chiefs traded for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., signed guard Joe Thuney, signed center Austin Blythe, lured guard Kyle Long out of retirement, and will get guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back after he opted out of the 2020 season. Then the club drafted Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the second round on Friday.

The Chiefs released Schwarts and former left tackle Eric Fisher earlier this offseason. Former center Austin Reiter remains an unsigned free agent.

During his Monday press conference, General Manager Brett Veach said the Chiefs’ plan to transform the offensive line didn’t just come together because of the team’s Super Bowl performance.

“Even at the start of the season, Austin Reiter was going to be a free agent,” Veach said. “And certainly Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz were both getting up there in regards to years experience and years playing the league. So I think our eye was always on that as our college guys were on the road. And as we started to meet in free agency in that process. And even before ‘Fish’ got hurt, when we met I think in early December, late November, our blueprint early on was, we’re going to really solidify some offensive line play in regards to tackle depth, interior depth and where can we find value in free agency?

“Certainly that plan got put into ultra-gear after Fish got hurt and then it was made aware to us that Mitch was going to get offseason surgery. It was on our radar the whole time. But I think the level of urgency just really picked up as soon as Eric got hurt and we got word that Mitch was going to get surgery. So I think that was probably going to be our priority anyway in the offseason. We probably doubled down a little bit, knowing that some of the veterans that we anticipated back wouldn’t be back either.”

Whether it was always the plan or not, the Chiefs have not been content with what they had up front despite employing one of the league’s best quarterbacks. The moves have set up Kansas City for a run at a third consecutive AFC championship.

5 responses to “Brett Veach: Eric Fisher injury, Mitchell Schwartz surgery raised urgency for OL changes

  1. It’s interesting and all to hear Veach’s commentary on Andy Reid’s OL decisions. Kind of like John Lynch talking about Kyle’s 49ers QB decision, we know in each case the former is just executing the latter’s directives.

  2. And then they drafted Trey Smith in the 7th round, who was considered a second- to fourth-round pick in every draft list I saw.

  3. Veach and the Chiefs have built, what will be, one of the best offensive lines of modern football.

  4. If Fisher and Schwartz were “getting up there” at 30 and 31, Long and Remmers are there already at 32. Long’s health is a question mark. Remmers is backup level. Brown and Thuney are both solid. Hopefully Humphrey turns into a starting center and LDT regains his form after being out of the sport for 16 months.

  5. I’ve learned that even when Veach makes some questionable decisions, he almost always seems to have a bigger picture in mind that somehow ends up working perfectly.

    Replacing Eric Berry with Mathieu? Super Bowl that very year. Cutting Fisher and Schwartz? Finding younger bodies able to go right away, and cheaper.

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