KANSAS CITY, Mo. – What do offensive tackles Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Jah Reid and Ryan Harris have in common?
Each player logged multiple starts at right tackle for the Chiefs at some point in the past three seasons.
The annual turmoil at the position, however, effectively ended when the Chiefs signed right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to a five-year contract.
“Mitchell is a strong addition to our offensive line,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “He’s a talented football player that has proven to be durable and physical in his four seasons in the National Football League. We are excited that he will be a member of our team.”
While the 6-5, 320-pound Schwartz possesses the physical attributes and skills to thrive, he more than proves Dorsey’s point on durability.
Since entering the league in 2012 out of California as a second-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, Schwartz has appeared and started at right tackle in all 64 games during that span.
To put that remarkable stretch in perspective, the Chiefs went through four players at right tackle the past season: Reid logged 10 starts, Fisher had four, Allen started once, while Stephenson started one regular-season game and both postseason contests.
Schwartz, whose brother, Geoff, played for the Chiefs in 2013, credited two main areas to explain why he has been a model of sturdiness in his career.
“Obviously, a part of it is luck,” Schwartz said. “My brother hasn’t had as much injury luck as I have, but when three guys fall on your leg, there’s not much to do. There’s an element of luck and there’s also an element of just working hard.”
Schwartz, who turns 27 on June 8, said he vigorously trains during the offseason to stay in shape.
“The strength and conditioning, it’s to get you stronger and faster and all that,” he said. “But its No. 1 priority is for durability to keep you healthy and prevent injury.”
The offseason conditioning for Schwartz carries into the regular season, which helps him deal with the bumps and bruises that eventually affect virtually every NFL player given the physical nature of the game.
But ultimately when it comes to his reliability, Schwartz takes away a sense of satisfaction knowing he can be there for his teammates.
“Every guy is going to have smaller injuries or tiny things throughout the season,” he said, “and I think as an offensive lineman, you definitely feel it’s your duty to play pretty much regardless, unless there’s something that the medical staff will tell you that you just can’t do if you have a serious thing.
“But as an offensive lineman, we take a lot of pride on being there for the other four guys, being there for the rest of the team. It’s just a pride thing as an offensive lineman.”
With Allen and Stephenson signing free-agent contracts with other teams in recent days, the Chiefs now have the luxury to move Reid inside to battle against Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at right guard or potentially the currently vacant left guard position.
Fisher, of course, mans the left side, meaning the Chiefs won’t have to tinker at right tackle anytime soon with Schwartz under contract.
And Schwartz is happy to be one of the bookends on the offensive line.
“I think I fit very well in terms of what’s going on offensively,” he said.