The AFC West: Free Agency Recap

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The AFC West has been an intriguingly tough division especially when it comes to free agency. This offseason each team in the division bested themselves to be competitive with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t do much I free agency. First of all, they lost cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Washington Redskins. His new contract is four years worth 40 million dollars.

The Chiefs needed more cap space so because of this they restructured defensive end Frank Clark‘s contract. They took five million dollars of his contract which in turn converted it to a signing bonus.

Believe it or not the Chiefs did not do huge deals with free agency worth noting. Head coach Andy Reid will take his chances in the draft since they don’t have much capital to play in free agency.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders signed quarterback Marcus Mariota to backup starter Derek Carr. He is the Tennessee Titans former number two draft pick overall in 2015.

Oct 7, 2018; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws a pass during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders did do a massive upgrade on their linebacker core. They signed Cory Littleton to a three-year deal worth 35.25 million dollars which 22 million dollars is guaranteed. They also signed Nick Kwiatkoski to a three-year deal worth 21 million dollars which 13.5 million dollars is guaranteed. Having these two linebackers set for three years will help against the pass due to their struggles.

One of the worst defenses last season didn’t stop there. They also signed defensive end Carl Nassib, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, safety Jeff Heath, and cornerback Eli Apple. This gives the Raiders upgrade everywhere on the defense because this defense would not be able to compete in this division without the upgrades.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers finally cut ties with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. They are expecting Tyrod Taylor to take over due to his cheap contract and massive upside. They would rather not trade for a starter or a vet like Andy Dalton or Cam Newton which is a wise move if they end up drafting a quarterback in the first round.

The Chargers decided not to break the bank with former Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon because his holdout last season blew any deal. Earlier they did sign Austin Ekeler to a 4-year 24.5 million dollar contract which 15 million dollars are guaranteed. The two-year running back deserved his contract after taking over for Gordon. The Chargers also beefed up their offensive line by adding Bryan Bulaga and traded for Trai Turner.

The Chargers beefed up their defensive line by signing defensive tackle Linval Joseph to a two-year deal worth 17 million dollars. They also upgraded their secondary by signing Chris Harris Jr. to a two-year deal worth 20.25 million dollars. This will give them arguably the best cornerback duo with Casey Hayward and Desmond King.

AFC West surprise in free agency
Oct 13, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) motions in the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

AFC West Free Agency Winner: Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos made the biggest splash at the start of free agency. They traded for the defensive line they needed for a cheap cost. They gave up a seventh-round 2020 draft pick for former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. He will carry over a cap hit of 11.8 million this year, 12.2 million next season, and 13.8 in his final contract season. They have been eyeing him since the AFC playoff run for the Titans where he posted 2.5 sacks, eight tackles, three quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble. The Broncos defensive line will consist of Jurrell Casey, Mike Purcell, and Dre’Mont Jones which will definitely replace the hole they were missing. Purcell and Casey were first and 12th respectively against the run so expect a great run defense.

AFC West best steal
FILE — In this Oct. 27, 2019, file photo, Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey plays against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. The four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman turned in one of the Titans’ best playoff performances to put them into the AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs. (AP Photo/James Kenney, File)

Cornerback Devonte Bausby is coming back to the NFL on a 1-year deal. He was one of the big-time stars in the AAF. He will make a decent depth position. The Broncos did let Chris Harris Jr. walk to the rival Chargers.

On the offensive side, the big deal was with former Detroit Lions’ offensive guard Graham Glasgow. He signed a four-year deal worth 44 million dollars which 26 million is guaranteed. They let go of Connor McGovern which is now with the New York Jets. Quarterback Joe Flacco will be released as a June 1st release which frees up 20.5 million dollars in cap space.

In Conclusion

Looks like it has been a interesting offseason so far for the AFC West. The Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers have in particular strengthened up their defenses to try and stop the Chiefs. The 2020 draft should be exciting and the events that lead up to it.

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