AFC West Roundup: Additions, Losses, Draft Needs And More For The Chiefs’ Rivals
Ladies and gentlemen, it has reached the doldrums of the NFL year.
The Super Bowl was almost two months ago, and the draft isn’t coming for almost another month from now. The league has several newsworthy occurrences between those major events. Unfortunately, those have mostly passed us by already. NFL Combine? Check. Franchise designation deadline? Come and gone. Opening of free agency? Hello and welcome to Jeremy Maclin!
Thankfully, the Chiefs‘ involvement this offseason has generally been positive and exciting. But the next big move is likely to come with the beginning of the draft on April 30.
Over the next several weeks we will all get our fill of mock drafts. So I figured I would avoid doing that in this week’s post. For now, here is a quick roundup of what the rest of the AFC West looks like heading into April.
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) after their loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts won 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
As Chiefs fan blogger, it should not come as any surprise that I am not particularly fond of the orange-clad horse men. It does not help that they managed to keep Peyton Manning from retiring, and franchised his biggest target in Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos were also one of three teams given the maximum possible compensatory picks in this year’s draft at four (along with the Chiefs and Seahawks). So they will have ample opportunity for new talent acquisition. To the joy of the rest of the division, they may need those draft picks as the their biggest move in free agency was to let TE Julius Thomas sign with the Jaguars.
Add in a new head coach in Gary Kubiak, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the mile high city. But the return of Manning and Thomas ensures that KC’s campaign to dethrone the reigning division champs will not a be cake walk.
Cap space: ~$13M
Notable losses: TE Julius Thomas, G Orlando Fanklin, DT Terrance Knighton, S Rahim Moore
Notable additions: TE Owen Daniels
Top remaining needs: C, RT, NT
CBS Sports free agency grade: C
2015 Draft picks: 10
San Diego Chargers
Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) signals on the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers apparently like raiding their neighbors cupboards. In addition to resigning former Chief CB Brandon Flowers, they also brought in ex-Bronco G Orlando Franklin. And, of course, the Chargers staples of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates have not gone anywhere. However, the Chargers still have work to do on the offensive line to make sure Rivers is protected. This is especially true with the Chiefs keeping both Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. In addition to adding Franklin, San Diego resigned OT King Dunlap as a start. That may help ensure that part of the line does not regress, but probably is not going to do much at making it better.
San Diego seems to have played it relatively smart thus far in the offseason, and they needed to as there are still holes to fill and they have the fewest draft picks of any team in the division. That should not be a great limiting factor as they still have a selection in every round but the seventh. It does, however, mean that the Chargers have one less shot at adding depth to their roster than the Raiders. And three fewer chances than either the Broncos or the Chiefs.
Cap space: ~$18M
Notable losses: S Marcus Gilchrist, WR Eddie Royal
Notable additions: G Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, WR/KR Jacoby Jones
Top remaining needs: OG, C, NT
CBS Sports free agency grade: B-
2015 Draft picks: 6
Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio speaks at a press conference during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Another team with a new head coach, the Oakland Raiders are rumored to be making a legitimate push at their first winning season since 2002. That is not an uncommon opinion, and seems to be based largely on the fact that the Raiders are boosted by strong young players with a lot of potential, like Derek Carr and Khalil Mack.
Though Oakland has plenty of cap space to work with, they have not made much of a splash during free agency. Their only high-value loss was RB Darren McFadden, but none of their acquisitions so far are going to make the Black Whole feel like they are major winners (though losing Rodney hudson is still bitter for Chiefs fans). You may know some of their names, but it will likely take more to get this team to really turn the corner.
Cap space: ~$25.5M
Notable losses: RB Darren McFadden
Notable additions: S Nate Allen, C Rodney Hudson, ILB Curtis Lofton
Top remaining needs: OT, DE, WR
CBS Sports free agency grade: C-
2015 Draft picks: 7
What does this mean for the Chiefs? We won’t really know that answer until after the regular season has started. But at the moment I believe Kansas City should be feeling pretty good. Nobody in the division has brought in a bombshell free agent that is likely to single-handedly change some facet of the team (think Ndamukong Suh). Denver is looking more mortal every year, and neither San Diego nor Oakland seems to be surging ahead.
I could be singing a different tune after the draft and training camp injuries (because there are always a few) have had their affect. But for now, I am anticipating good things come September.
Cap numbers from spotrac.com, as of Mar. 24. Transactions and remaining needs from Spotrac and walterfootball.com.
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