KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on left tackle Eric Fisher, which means the former No. 1 overall draft pick is scheduled to make $11.9 million during the 2017 season.
The Chiefs had until Monday to decide on the option, which becomes fully guaranteed next March.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has said he would like to sign Fisher to a long-term deal, and the decision to pick up the pricey option may simply be part of the negotiation process.
Fisher had a disappointing first two seasons in the NFL, and some were quick to label the Central Michigan product a bust. But the 6-foot-7, 305-pound lineman appeared to break through last season, even shutting down Texans star pass rusher J.J. Watt during Kansas City’s playoff game.
"I see myself on a steady incline," Fisher said during a recent interview. "I’m looking to pick up where I left off, continue to grow and stay on a steady rise throughout my career. If I can do that 10 more years, however many more years, I’m looking forward to it."
The Chiefs still allowed quarterback Alex Smith to get sacked 45 times last season, but Fisher was hardly the reason for it. Kansas City had to shuffle elsewhere along the offensive line as it dealt with a series of injuries, while Fisher remained a constant — he appeared in all 16 regular-season games.
In fact, health had been a big issue for him early in his career. Fisher dealt with a shoulder injury that required a lengthy rehab, and had also dealt with other minor injuries that held him back.
"That shoulder surgery is quite a long recovery. This year felt that much better," he said. "I feel great right now, I feel real strong, nothing’s holding me back."
The Chiefs drafted only one offensive lineman among their nine selections last weekend, and that was Cincinnati’s Parker Ehinger. He played left tackle in college, but projects as a guard in the NFL.
They signed Mitchell Schwartz in free agency, but he figures to play right tackle.
So, the Chiefs appear to be planning on Fisher being around for a while, and just as he’s starting to come into his own. The way he played in the Chiefs’ playoff victory over Houston — and the mean streak that he displayed against Watt — was a sign that Fisher is developing into a stalwart offensive tackle.
"Yeah, I thought that was a real fun game for me," he said. "It almost seemed like a little bit of a turning point in my career. It was nice to get going — especially here in the playoffs, round one. And then (winning) the first playoff game in quite some time around here was a big accomplishment."