It has been said that I do nothing but write articles that antagonize Steelers fans, so here goes another.
Whatever happened to Eric Fisher, the most coveted free agent of the summer of 2022 (at least by Steelers fans)?
Time to pepper in a little backstory: Fisher was an offensive tackle out of Central Michigan who was the number-one overall pick by the Chiefs in the 2013 NFL Draft. (Man, can you imagine the heightened debate and outrage in 2023 if the Steelers had the number-one overall pick AND were considering drafting a left tackle from a MAC school?)
Despite playing his college ball at left tackle, and despite being the number-one overall pick, Fisher began his professional career at right tackle. I would say this was a genius move by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, but he was still Mike Tomlin in those days (this was before Patrick Mahomes would turn him into the offensive version of Bill Belichick), so he was likely just being a cheerleader.
Anyway, Fisher struggled a bit over on the right side during his rookie campaign and was given a low overall grade by Pro Football Focus, according to his Wikipedia Page.
Fisher officially became a left tackle in 2014, and the rest is history.
And when I say “the rest is history,” I mean that Fisher made his first Pro Bowl in 2018. Not to knock Fisher too much, of course. After all, he did become a full-time starter for the Chiefs, but for a number-one overall draft pick, I was expecting more Anthony Munoz (or whatever modern comparison you’d like to make for the non-Generation X crowd) and less Eric Fisher.
Fisher was voted to his second Pro Bowl in 2020, while the Chiefs again captured the AFC and advanced to their second-straight Super Bowl. Sadly for Fisher, he suffered a torn Achilles in the AFC title game against the Bills and obviously did not play in Kansas City’s blowout loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.
Fisher was subsequently released prior to the 2021 free-agent frenzy. He did not sign with anyone during the frenzy, which was understandable considering the recency and seriousness of his injury.
Meanwhile, the Steelers were going about rebuilding an offensive line that mostly fell apart during the 2020 season. Maurkice Pouncey retired following a disappointing home-playoff loss to the Browns. Alejandro Villanueva would not be re-signed, and neither would Matt Feiler, but for better reasons (at least for him). The Steelers then set their sights on the 2021 NFL Draft, where they selected Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. This was an egregious act that occurred after an even more egregious act: The selections of running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth in the first and second rounds, respectively.
In retrospect, everyone now realizes that the Steelers weren’t going to rebuild a once-great offensive line in a single offseason, and the fans and media are totally fine with the organization’s approach to the 2021 NFL Draft. After all, the Steelers appear to have two future stars in Harris and Freiermuth.
As for Fisher, he signed a one-year, $8.38 million deal with the Colts that May. I can’t remember if Fisher was ever linked to the Steelers in 2021, but I’m sure he was... salary cap hell, be damned.
Unbeknownst to the Steelers (or maybe it was beknownst), decorated guard David DeCastro spent the spring dealing with an ankle injury that had plagued him all throughout the 2020 campaign. Unfortunately for the six-time Pro Bowler, he was never able to overcome his health issue and was released that June. The Steelers immediately went out and signed veteran guard Trai Turner to take DeCastro’s place.
And then the fans spent the next month looking forward to Steelers training camp at Heinz Field.
Actually, the fans spent the next month talking about the list of remaining free agents, including offensive linemen.
“Why haven’t the Steelers signed (insert offensive lineman here)?” they asked. “He’s still out there,” they reminded us.
“Should the Steelers sign (insert offensive lineman here)?”
“I see the Steelers are content with another .500 season.” (They were actually content with finishing 9-8, as per the league expanding to a 17th game, starting with the 2021 regular season.)
Did the Steelers ever get around to signing an offensive lineman that summer?
As for Fisher, he started 15 games for Indianapolis in 2021 but was not brought back for the 2022 campaign.
Did Fisher wind up with the Steelers in 2022? After all, according to the various articles that were posted last summer, he just made sense, he was a perfect fit, etc.
Or would the Steelers be content with Dan Moore—a second-year left tackle who should have had fans at least a little excited—and finishing .500 again (9-8 for the crowd that hasn’t caught on)?
Here is an article from last summer that indicated Fisher was being very selective in free agency and turned down as many as nine offers.
Probably even one from the Steelers, who, being the Steelers, clearly low-balled Fisher.
Fisher eventually signed with the Dolphins...in December, and never actually played in a game for Miami. In fact, he was placed on Injured Reserve on January 6, 2023—or two days before the Dolphins' final regular season matchup.
While Fisher spent the past two seasons playing for two teams (well, one) and appearing in 15 games, Dan Moore Jr. started a combined 33 games at left tackle.
Pittsburgh just selected Broderick Jones in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to be an upgrade over Moore.
What’s my overall point?
Players are free agents for a reason this time of year.
PS. - Eric Fisher is still out there and would be a perfect fit for the Steelers.