I know it's always fun to give Broncos, Raiders and Chargers fans a good ribbing now and then about their respective teams but the joke is really on the AFC West.
The Chargers, 8-8 last year, won their final four games of the year to snatch the divisional crown away from the bumbling Broncos. The Chiefs and Raiders were never in it. As a whole, the teams of the AFC West averaged about 5.5 wins each last year and no team's record was over .500.
So, you'd expect a lot of changes in personnel in the AFC West after such a poor showing by, well, everyone. The Broncos have been by far the busiest AFC West team in free agency and the activity dwindles as you go from the Chiefs, to the Raiders and to the Chargers.
The Chiefs cut a few salary cap heavy veterans and traded for a franchise quarterback and a defensive leader. Not too shabby for the first three days of free agency.
Let's see how the rest of the AFC West fared in the first wave of free agency.
Cap space before free agency: ~$37 million
|ADDITIONS (8)||SUBTRACTIONS (15)||RE-SIGNED (0)|
|RB J.J. Arrington (FA, ARZ)
RB Correll Buckhalter (FA, PHI)
WR Jabar Gaffney (FA, NE)
FS Renaldo Hill (FA, MIA)
G Matt McChesney (waivers, MIA)
LS Lonie Paxton (FA, NE)
DT Darrell Reid (FA, IND)
S Brian Dawkins (FA, PHI)
|RB Anthony Aldridge (waivers, WSH)
CB Dré Bly (cut)
DE John Engelberger (cut)
CB Domonique Foxworth (FA, BAL)
RB Alex Haynes (cut)
TE Nate Jackson (cut)
LB Niko Koutouvides (cut)
S John Lynch (retired)
S Marquand Manuel (cut)
TE Chad Mustard (cut)
RB P.J. Pope (cut)
DT Dewayne Robertson (cut)
WR Cliff Russell (cut)
DT Josh Shaw (cut)
LB Jamie Winborn (cut)
It says something about how unhappy your new head coach is with the team when there have been 23 transactions on your team and nobody was re-signed. New Denver head coach Josh McDaniels wants no part of Mike Shanahan's legacy, even QB Jay Cutler.
Brian Dawkins is a decorated safety who will turn 36-years old in October. J.J. Arrington and Correll Buckhalter are the exact type of running backs you'd expect the old Broncos to sign (and subsequently get injured). Considering Denver was down to it's 7th running back or something close to that last year, it's probably a good idea to nab at least two of them in free agency.
To add to those sub par signings, WR Brandon Marshall was arrested over the weekend and charged with disorderly conduct. ESPN is speculating that an 8-game suspension in 2009 could be in order for Marshall. Whatever the punishment is, it's good to see a great rival WR go down the tubes. Even if nothing comes of this latest arrest, you know Marshall is going to get arrested again. And again. And again. He's that stupid.
Verdict: Lots of movement by the Broncos but little of it was in a forward direction.
Cap space before free agency: ~$8 million
|ADDITIONS (1)||SUBTRACTIONS (5)||RE-SIGNED (3)|
|QB Bruce Gradkowski (waivers, CLE)||WR Ronald Curry (cut)
DE Kalimba Edwards (cut)
FB Justin Griffith (cut)
OT Kwame Harris (cut)
S Gibril Wilson (cut, MIA)
|CB Nnamdi Asomugha
CB Chris Johnson
P Shane Lechler
If it wasn't for the whole winning thing or putting together a solid football team, it wouldn't be that bad to be an Oakland Raider. CB Nnamdi Asomugha was re-signed in mid-February to a deal that guarantees him $28.5 million in the first two years of his contract. I mean, if you hang around in Oakland for a couple of seasons and keep your mouth shut, Al Davis is going to throw you a bunch of cash.
Right now, the Raiders don't even enter my thoughts as AFC West competitors. And they probably won't until Al Davis leaves his ownership post. Despite putting together a Super Bowl team in the early part of this decade, Davis has fallen even further off of literal rocker in the last few seasons.
Verdict: Still the Raiders, which is like being the Keystone Cops of the NFL.
San Diego Chargers
Cap space before free agency: ~$14 million
|ADDITIONS (0)||SUBTRACTIONS (1)||RE-SIGNED (1)|
|LB Anthony Waters (cut)||G Kynan Forney|
The big news isn't about any of the Charger's moves but only about one potential move- LaDainian Tomlinson. Rumors have surfaced mentioning the New Orleans Saints as a potential LT landing spot but nothing concrete has occurred. Moving LT would be contract related, as the Chargers will have to re-sign QB Philip Rivers to a huge contract next season.
The Chargers were the most stable team personnel wise in the AFC West, which may account for part of their lack of activity in free agency.
Verdict: Still the most talented team in the AFC West but the gap is closing quickly.