However, Holder notes that former Kansas City Chiefs’ blindside bookend, Eric Fisher, who is reportedly visiting Indianapolis later this week, is the likelier signing between the pair of Pro Bowl tackles:
Free agent offensive Eric Fisher is visiting the Colts this week, as @TomPelissero reported. A major hurdle before signing will be a physical exam following his Achilles injury.
The Colts have also been in contact with free agent Charles Leno, but Fisher is the likelier signing
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) May 4, 2021
Stampede Blue analyzed Charles Leno’s potential fit for the Colts on Monday, and the possible pairing makes quite a deal of sense for both sides.
Dating back to 2015, Leno had made 93 straight starts for the Bears as a fixture along the left side of their offensive line. He was a Pro Bowler for Chicago in 2018.
Per PFF (subscription), Leno was their 28th best graded offensive tackle this past season with a +74.9 overall grade. For perspective, Colts’ longtime anchor Anthony Castonzo earned a +73.4 overall grade in 2020—albeit having battled through some injuries.
In pass protection, Leno allowed 5.0 sacks and 43 total QB pressures during 728 total pass blocking snaps last season.
Only 29 years old and having been coached by Colts’ offensive line Chris Strausser back at Boise State collegiately, there’s obviously some familiarity and a comfort zone between the two sides.
Here’s even some prior comments that Strausser made regarding coaching Leno previously at Boise State (via The Chicago Tribune in 2014):
“He’s a guy that has really always taken care of his business really well. He’s been a very, very good student,” Strausser said. “He is a vocal guy. I considered him the leader in our group last year, if not the leader on our offense.”
“. . . He’s a really, really competitive kid and all guys that play football at this level are competitive. But to me he was far more competitive than most of the guys we had on our roster. The second thing is he is a guy that takes care of his business at all times. Like I said, he was really, really good in the classroom and there was never anything in five years that came up off the football field that was an issue with Charles. He was always doing exactly what he needed to do. To me, he is a tough guy that plays hard and competes and takes care of business, he’s got a shot.”
Between Fisher and Leno, the latter is presumably the safer signing, as there’s no torn Achilles to worry about recovering from, and he’s been incredibly durable in the past.
That being said, if Fisher is fully healthy, he’s the superior offensive tackle—but not without substantial more risk, because there’s questions regarding Fisher’s initial availability for the Colts and whether he can fully regain his prior Pro Bowl form—coming off such a serious injury.
However, whether it’s Leno or Fisher, either way someone slices it, each would be a significant upgrade to the Colts’ current project starting left tackle Sam Tevi.
The Colts should make such a signing, hands down, no questions asked—assuming it’s on a reasonable short-term deal.