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Know Your Enemy: The AFC West’s best and worst free agency moves

Taking a look at where the division got better and worse thus far this offseason.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NFL has cleared the first wave of free agency and transitioned into the typically lower-key second wave of moves.

The Kansas City Chiefs have made a couple of minor moves, but are largely staying quiet in the free agent market. It’s hard to blame them — they have the best player in the league coming off of a Super Bowl victory — but the relative lack of transactions have led to some calm days at 1 Arrowhead Drive. Ron already wrote a good piece on the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders moves in free agency.

I decided to look at individual moves I liked and some moves I questioned out of the divisional opponents thus far in free agency.

Denver Broncos

Best - Graham Glasgow

Glasgow may not be the sexiest addition in the division, but he’s a versatile lineman that could help solidify the interior of Denver’s offensive line. After losing Connor McGovern to the Jets, the Broncos needed a strong addition — and they got one in Glasgow. A former third-round draft pick, Glasgow started for four years on the Detroit Lions offensive line at center and both guard spots. He’s a very smart player and a solid technician at each spot, which could help improve Denver’s ability to pick up the heavy stunt and blitz game that Steve Spagnuolo and Brendan Daly like to run. The Broncos are pinning their future on Drew Lock’s progression as a quarterback, and adding Glasgow is a great way to help keep him more comfortable in the pocket.

Worst - Melvin Gordon

I’m really unsure what the plan is with the Broncos running back rotation at the moment. Phillip Lindsay is a dynamic option in the Broncos backfield and appeared to be “the guy” at times for the Denver offense. When they wanted to give Lindsay a breather, they were able to bring in a patient runner in Royce Freeman. These two backs were counting just over $1.8M against the Broncos 2020 salary cap. Adding Melvin Gordon — who is a good player when healthy — on a $7M cap hit in 2020 and a $9M cap hit in 2021 is questionable to me. Gordon has certainly shown better than Freeman at points in his career, but he’s perpetually struggled with health issues and looks to take snaps away from an already strong running back room. With other holes on the team, it seems like the money spent on Gordon might have been better served elsewhere.

Las Vegas Raiders

Best - Cory Littleton

Littleton was one of the players we highlighted as a potential fit at WILL linebacker for the Chiefs on a recent episode of the AP Laboratory. He’s got coverage ability, coming up with five interceptions and 22 passes defensed over the last two years. Littleton is not particularly stout at the point of attack, but his true sideline-to-sideline range allows him to make an impact as a pursuit linebacker on a play to play basis. The Raiders desperately needed linebacker help and speed on defense to counter the Chiefs’ offensive weapons, and Littleton fits them well. Look for him to try to match up against Travis Kelce and Damien Williams in coverage this year — or as a spy to help keep Patrick Mahomes from beating the Raiders with his legs.

Worst - Jason Witten

This is a real head-scratcher for most Raiders fans, let alone those looking at it from the outside. One year after Witten returned from retirement to join the Cowboys, Jon Gruden and the Raiders added him on a one-year, $4 million deal. Las Vegas found a gem in Darren Waller last year and promptly signed him to a long-term deal after a fantastic season. They drafted Foster Moreau as a developmental tight end in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Witten has plenty of knowledge and should help bring a veteran presence to the room, but he shouldn’t be seeing the field regularly at this point in his career — especially when there are two more dynamic options to field. Witten set his lowest yards-per-target rate in his career in 2019. If the Raiders are planning to give him significant snaps in 2020 over options that could stretch the opposing defense, that’s a win for the Chiefs.

Los Angeles Chargers

Best - Chris Harris Jr.

Harris was the move I liked most in the division thus far. While he’s a little bit older and should be relegated to more of a slot role, Harris still has plenty left in the tank for a two-year deal — especially at his price tag. Harris is familiar with the AFC West after playing for Denver his entire career, and he’ll look to match up against Kelce and Tyreek Hill once again. The Chargers have Harris, Casey Hayward and Desmond King in a loaded secondary with Derwin James and Nasir Adderley. They once again look to be forming a formidable defense on paper to try to counteract the Chiefs’ high-powered offense.

Worst - No quarterback addition

It’s no secret that the Chargers were in on Tom Brady. Brady ultimately decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, leaving Los Angeles to look elsewhere after Philip Rivers’ departure to the Indianapolis Colts.

Yeah, uh....they haven’t tried to add anything else.

I like Tyrod Taylor and his dual-threat nature as a quarterback. I also think that the Chargers would be wise to draft a quarterback early in the 2020 draft. However, that runs counter to what the Chargers plan has been in this free agency period. Adding three 31-year-old players to two and three-year deals speaks more to the immediate nature to produce for this Chargers team. They could still add a quarterback like Cam Newton or Andy Dalton to try to kick the team into more of a “win-now” mode, but they’re lacking in the quarterback department as it stands. If they want to compete with the Chiefs to win the division this year, they’ll need an improvement under center.


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