The Indianapolis Colts finally resolved their left tackle predicament this week when they inked veteran free agent Eric Fisher to a one-year, $9.4 million deal.
While most fans understand this signing has the potential of being one of the bargains of the offseason, it also has the potential to blow up in the Colts’ face if Fisher is a shell of the world-beating blocker he was before his Achilles injury.
Before the deal was completed, it seemed like Indianapolis was having a difficult time deciding whether to sign Fisher or fellow free agent Charles Leno, who hit the open market a few weeks back after he was surprisingly released by the Bears.
Well, for any curious Colts fans, Leno is now officially off the market after he signed a one-year contract worth up to a reported $5 million with Washington. It might not seem like much, but a $4.4 million difference is significant when you know Leno will be ready from the jump and Fisher’s health situation is up in the air.
With that in mind, did the Colts make a mistake paying Fisher as much as they did?
Could Charles Leno’s contract with Washington suggest the Colts made a mistake paying Eric Fisher?
It’s obviously too early to draw a firm conclusion and the Colts had ample salary cap space to spend after they sat most of free agency on the sidelines. However, we can’t get Fisher’s recent injury history (and Leno’s mesmerizing durability) out of our minds.
Some might say the former No. 1 overall pick’s athleticism will give Indianapolis’ offense more upside, but how can we know for sure that he’ll be the same player he was before the injury? We can’t and the unknown is precisely what makes this such a gamble for the Colts.
Given the narrative surrounding Carson Wentz, wouldn’t it have made more sense for Indy to pursue the more durable option in Leno? The former second-round pick has started every game across the last five seasons, playing 99.8% (!) of the offensive snaps during that span.
While Fisher has a higher ceiling and is the more recognized commodity, Leno — as evidenced by his lowly $5 million deal with Washington — is just one of a laundry list of left tackles around the league who’s yearly contributions go unheralded.
Was that not the role Anthony Castonzo held for the last decade before he retired this offseason? Though he was beloved in Indianapolis, the former first-rounder was never named to a Pro Bowl and the biggest contract he signed was worth fewer than $44 million in total.
It might seem like we’re implying that Leno would’ve been the better signing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re just trying to paint a complete picture for fans in the event that Fisher struggles when he returns from injury.
If that happens, the Colts will surely regret passing on Leno for just $5 million.