What Chiefs Kingdom learned in the first wave of NFL free agency

Even though the Chiefs made their big "splash" by re-signing star DL Chris Jones the day before every free agent signed with new teams, that doesn't mean that Kansas City fans didn't have a fun day watching all the madness ensue across the NFL landscape. But how should Chiefs fans feel about some of the major moves in and around the league, especially around their own division?

Chris Jones reacting to a question during the Super Bowl media day
Chris Jones reacting to a question during the Super Bowl media day / Jamie Squire/GettyImages
1 of 3

Although the Kansas City Chiefs did not seem to touch the phone during the first day of legal tampering—an oxymoron if I've ever heard one—there were still plenty of fireworks that the fans in red and yellow could watch and react to. There were blockbuster deals that sent major players across conferences, and there were even some signings that sent a key player to their division rivals. All this was on display for fans of Kansas City who patiently waited and watched in their 2024 Super Bowl Champion gear.

Some deals are going to be lingering on the minds of Chiefs fans everywhere while others might be looked at in a few years as laughable and moronic. Many of those are going to be because they have happened within the AFC West, a division dominated by head coach Andy Reid over the past decade.

Let's look at the buzz of the first day of free agency (unofficial!) to see how things affect the Chiefs.

The AFC West made moves!

The Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers, freshly recharged after the hiring of John Harbaugh, made a few moves on the first day of free agency but nothing truly jumps off the page or inspires fear inside Kansas City fans.

First, they allowed their star running back Austin Ekeler to leave after seven seasons with the Bolts. He had amassed 4,355 yards on the ground and 3,884 receiving yards along with a total of 69 touchdowns over his time, including a single-season franchise record 107 receptions two seasons ago.

After letting Ekeler leave to sign with the Commanders for two years and $11 million, the Chargers quickly filled his spot by signing former Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards to a relatively cheap deal (2 years / $6.5 million with $3.375 million guaranteed). This signing reunites Edwards with former Ravens and current Chargers OC Greg Roman, as well as sends him from one Harbaugh brother to the other, but it's not the big splash that many Chargers fans might think it is.

Edwards played well last season, racking up 810 yards on the ground and 13 rushing touchdowns, but his history with injury is what kept his price so low and the hype around the signing so minimal. Not only did he miss eight games in 2022 due to an ACL injury, but he missed the entire 2021 season after tearing the same ACL in practice during the offseason.

Los Angeles also grabbed tight end Will Dissly on a three-year, $14 million contract that includes $10 million guaranteed which should give Chiefs fans a sigh of relief considering they have been the odds-on favorite to draft tight end Brock Bowers out of Georgia in next month's draft.

The Raiders

The Raiders may have made the biggest splash of the day outside of Atlanta's signing of Kirk Cousins which should strike at least a little worry into the hearts of Chiefs fans. That's because one of the more dominant defensive edge players in the league, Maxx Crosby, finally has the help he's been begging for since he started rising to the top of the charts.

Crosby will now be lined up alongside defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who has made a name for himself in Miami over the past five seasons. Wilkins, who signed a four-year, $110 million deal with $82.75M being guaranteed, has started 77 games during his five-year career and even set a single-season NFL record in 2022 with 98 tackles.

This should put a little pep in the Chiefs' offensive linemen's steps next year, and for years to come, because Crosby was already the 8th-highest double-teamed edge rusher in the NFL. He still managed to rack up a career-high 14.5 sacks to go along with a career-high and NFL season-high 23 TFL.

Now Wilkins will attack the middle of the Chiefs' offensive line twice a year while Crosby ramps up speed on the outside, both making sure that Mahomes will sense pressure and feel uneasy in the pocket.

Outside of the major signing to the revamped Raiders' defense, the team allowed running back Josh Jacobs to leave after he played on the franchise tag last season. Jacobs will now be the star running back for the Green Bay Packers after signing a four-year, $48 million deal with $12.5 million guaranteed.

Also, since the Raiders' largest hole entering free agency was the quarterback position, they attacked that with a meager two-year, $25 million deal for veteran journeyman Gardner Minshew—of which $15 million is guaranteed. Minshew, who recently started 13 games for the Colts, threw 15 touchdowns and a career-high 3,305 yards before tossing a possible playoff-clinching pass a yard short behind his running back (below).

When all is said and done, the Raiders' defensive line is shaping up to be one of the best in the NFL, let alone the AFC West, and Kansas City fans should be hoping that GM Brett Veach and coach Reid can solidify the offensive line enough for Mahomes to have some breathing room for the forseeable future.

Denver Broncos

Finally, the AFC West's recent laughing stock of a franchise, the Denver Broncos, has done quite a bit of selling instead of buying over the past week. It all started with their release of QB Russell Wilson, immediately setting their wallets back $85 million and making them the least scary team in the division—and perhaps the entire AFC.

Fast forward to Saturday, and the Broncos were also suddenly without their 2020 first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, a stud wide receiver out of Alabama, thanks to a trade with Cleveland that sent Denver a 2024 fifth and sixth-round pick. Jeudy had been somewhat disappointing over his four seasons in Denver, failing to record 1,000 yards in any season and only hauling in 11 touchdowns—six of which came in 2022.

The Broncos did put some money on the table during the first day of free agency when they signed Miami safety Brandon Jones who will replace the recently released Justin Simmons. Jones' deal, a three-year, $20M signing with $12.5M guaranteed, isn't a huge factor but with such little space on the Broncos' cap anything that they do seems to be a negative as far as money goes.

Also, they retained their kicker Wil Lutz who was one of the very few consistent players they've had over the past season. This came as a suprise to many people considering Lutz originally agreeing to a deal with Jacksonville before changing his mind.