Indianapolis Colts agree to deal with Eric Fisher, former Kansas City Chiefs left tackle
The Colts have finally found Anthony Castonzo's replacement at left tackle.
Indianapolis is signing longtime Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher to a one-year deal worth up to $9.4 million, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to IndyStar on Monday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced publicly.
The Colts are taking a gamble that Fisher will be able to recover from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in the AFC Championship game in January.
Fisher, 30, was released in March by the Chiefs, who then made a blockbuster trade with Baltimore to get Orlando Brown at left tackle, in large part because of Fisher's injury. A two-time Pro Bowl left tackle who was taken No. 1 overall in the 2013 NFL draft, Fisher is still only 30 and productive when healthy, and because he was released by the Chiefs and signed after the draft, Fisher does not count against the Colts in the NFL's compensatory pick formula.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach had publicly expressed optimism that Fisher could be ready for training camp this summer despite the injury, and the Colts apparently felt comfortable with Fisher's injury after his visit to Indianapolis last week.
Even if the Colts don't expect him to be ready right away, they have spent the offseason adding veteran depth at the position by signing free agents Sam Tevi and Julién Davenport to low-cost deals.
Neither player is the same caliber as Fisher, but the Colts have repeatedly said they like both, particularly Tevi, who has been a starter for the Chargers the past three seasons. The Colts repeatedly said during the draft that they believe Tevi could start for them.
Ultimately, Indianapolis' decision to sign a veteran left tackle came as no surprise after GM Chris Ballard and the Colts decided not to fill the need at left tackle during the 2021 NFL draft.
While the team surely wanted to get a closer look at Fisher's medical situation, Ballard already is very familiar with the type of player and person the Colts are getting. Ballard was the Chiefs' director of player personnel the year Fisher was drafted. Later promoted to director of football operations, Ballard was also in Kansas City when the Chiefs handed Fisher a four-year, $48 million extension in 2016.
Fisher is a little bit like the man he's replacing at left tackle, Anthony Castonzo, in that, fair or not, the beginnings of their careers were considered a bit disappointing. However, each grew into one of the best in the league at their position. While Castonzo never reached a Pro Bowl — an oversight Ballard and Colts coach Frank Reich have lamented for years — Fisher made his first in 2018 and another in 2020.
If Fisher can get back to 100%, his addition to an already formidable offensive line likely would ensure the Colts' front five continues to be considered one of the best in the league.
Fisher fills the only open spot on a line that has played together for most of the past three seasons, lining up next to three-time All-Pro Quenton Nelson, giving the Colts one of the best left sides in the NFL. Of course, next to Nelson is two-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly, then solid right guard Mark Glowinski and blossoming right tackle Braden Smith.
The key question is Fisher's health. While he has been excellent the past couple of seasons, he's also battled injuries beyond the torn Achilles tendon. Fisher missed half of the 2019 season while dealing with core muscle and groin issues. The Achilles injury is notoriously tough to come back from, but the Colts clearly believe Fisher can.
Follow IndyStar Colts Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter: @jimayello.