INDIANAPOLIS – The second phase of Eric Fisher’s career took root earlier this week when he was reunited with Chris Ballard.
With a one-year, $9.4 million contract, the Indianapolis Colts had acquired their starting left tackle.
But Phase 2 actually began March 11 when Fisher received the news no one likes getting. Kansas City, the only NFL home Fisher had known since the Chiefs selected him with the 1st overall pick in the 2013 draft, was releasing him.
“Yeah, I mean you spend eight years with a team and do a lot of good things with a team,’’ Fisher said, his disappointment obvious during a Thursday Zoom conference call. “Obviously nobody likes being fired, but it’s part of the game.
“It’s a business that requires you to be healthy. I’m looking forward to kind of overcoming that obstacle and that hurdle that I was dealt.’’
That would be a torn Achilles tendon suffered Jan. 24 in the Chiefs’ AFC Championship game win over Buffalo. On that not-so-minor topic, he declined to offer a timeline for a return.
“I’m a big ‘control what you can control’ kind of guy,’’ Fisher said. “Obviously I’d like to snap my fingers and have a perfect Achilles again, but that’s not the case.
“Obviously the club feels good where I’m at. I’m feeling good.’’
The Achilles was a factor in the Chiefs’ decision to part ways with their two-time Pro Bowl tackle. They needed salary cap space and jettisoning the $11.25 million base salary of a player in serious rehab mode made sense.
But it also required Fisher to do some serious introspection. No longer was he an integral part of the Kansas City Chiefs juggernaut. He was a 30-year tackle – 113 regular-season starts in eight seasons – dealing with a significant injury.
When Fisher met with coach Frank Reich, they talked about Fisher coming to grips with a relocation and a restart to his career.
“As a player getting to the second half of your career, there’s a lot of questions, especially coming off an injury,’’ he said. “As soon as I got the call that I was being cut, it was like an automatic reset in my brain.
“I was like, ‘I’m nowhere near being done. I feel like I’ve got a lot of years left in me.’’’
Those thoughts bounced around Fisher’s mind as he was driving home Thursday from his latest rehab session. As for the hitting the reset issue, Fisher’s enthusiasm was evident.
“It’s going to be an awesome reset for myself and a fresh start,’’ he said. “Keep working and get the second half of my career off on a good start.’’
Ballard’s presence played a big role in Fisher’s decision to relocate to Indy. Ballard was the Chiefs’ director of player personnel in 2013 when they invested so heavily in Fisher. They were together for four seasons in Kansas City.
“He brought me in and trusted me to get the job done and I’m looking forward to that challenge and everything that comes along with it,’’ Fisher said.
He’s also looking forward to being the missing piece on the Colts’ offensive line. He joins three-time All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly, right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Braden Smith.
“One of the big things is the offensive line there,’’ Fisher said. “It’s being able to play next to the best left guard in the league. I’m darned excited for that.
“But across the board, talented guys everywhere. We’ve got a great quarterback (Carson Wentz) coming from Philly . . . I’m excited to build that chemistry with him, build the chemistry with the guys.
“To be a part of that o-line group, I’m really champing at the bit to get back to work. I think we’re going to have a lot of success.’’
Signing with the Colts, Fisher added, “just seemed right. Everything lined up. It worked out and I’m excited for the opportunity and excited to get to work.’’