We’re a little more than 24 hours past the NFL’s tag deadline, and the smoke has finally cleared.
The new league year begins one week from today, teams will soon hunker down to start finalizing free agency plans, and waves of players will be flying off the board like nobody’s business. It is a whirlwind of ridiculousness. And because the Bears have needs all throughout the roster, this is the time to target players who could possibly present immediate, short-term help.
One could make a case for several different positions being a top priority. But good luck toppling offensive line as this team’s biggest need. And for what it’s worth, a new target with multiple ties to the new administration might have emerged:
Pro-Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher is not expected to resign with the Colts despite the fact that the two sides have spent recent weeks trying to strike a new deal, per sources. Fisher now is poised to hit free agency next week.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2022
ESPN’s Adam Schefter makes it seem like Colts left tackle Eric Fisher will hit free agency next week. Schefter notes that while the team and player have been discussing a new deal, nothing has come to fruition. Considering the number of teams that could use offensive line help and Fisher’s standing as a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle, conventional thinking might be to test the market. If that happens to be how it goes down, Fisher is someone the Bears should kick the tires on in free agency.
Fisher, 31, has nine years of starting experience in the league. Two of those seasons were Pro Bowl years, and both were pretty recent (2018, 2020). That 2020 season was an especially strong campaign, one in which he put up a career-best 80.1 grade from Pro Football Focus. Sure, Fisher saw it slip to a 68.2 overall last year, firmly in the middle of the pack among the 83 qualifying tackles. But his 73.3 run-blocking grade put him just outside the top-25 among players at the position. In other words, he might not be at the top of his game. But Fisher remains a solid contributor along the line. Hence, someone the Bears should have an eye on if the price is right.
If anyone should know if the juice is worth the squeeze when it comes to Fisher, it should be the Bears.
New GM Ryan Poles was a College Scouting Administrator from 2010-12 while Fisher was a prospect at Central Michigan and before he went with the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Poles would go on to work in several different roles in K.C.’s organization, all while Fisher was holding it down at left tackle. After leaving Kansas City, Fisher went to the Colts. In case you missed it, the Bears’ new head coach (Matt Eberflus) and several defensive staffers were in Indianapolis last year. Meaning they had a first-hand look at what Fisher was all about.
Should the Bears feel uncomfortable with Teven Jenkins or Larry Borom at left tackle, then targeting Fisher makes sense. Fisher is PFF’s fourth-ranked free agent tackle, which should make him a priority. He also figures to be a starting left tackle with whomever he signs his next contract. So it’s not like we’re discussing a position change at this stage. As for the cash considerations, a projected three-year deal worth up to $42 million is relatively modest. Even if it $30 million in guarantees and $14 million per year looks like a hefty price to pay, it isn’t.
Seriously, that type of contract isn’t as daunting as it looks. For instance, the $42 million in total value would rank 15th among left tackles. A $14M AAV would check in as the 16th highest at the position. And the $30 million in total guarantees would put him tied with good company at 14th. Donovan Smith (Bucs) and David Bakhtiari (Packers) are darn good tackles, after all.
All that to say that the Bears could conceivably upgrade along the offensive line without simultaneously breaking the bank.
So … where do we sign up the Bears up for this?