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NFL offseason team needs: AFC West

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In today's parity-filled NFL, every team is one solid offseason away from being a playoff contender. Take a look at each team's offseason to-do lists, clickable by division.
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC WEST

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos

OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The Broncos don't have many of their own free agents that will be a high priority to re-sign. The team took care of its biggest potential issue, re-signing linebacker D.J. Williams, when they got him to agree to a new deal before the 2008 season started.

Denver has a few veterans to make decisions on, but should be in good shape heading into free agency. The team will then work to start rebuilding its downtrodden defense.



TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS

1. Defensive line: There is a lot of room for improvement along the defensive line. If the Broncos go to a 3-4 this season, there will be an emphasis on finding pieces that fit that system. Denver could use multiple picks on linemen.

2. Safety: Denver's safeties might have been the worst in the NFL last year. There was constant change trying to find two reliable starters. The position needs to be overhauled in the offseason, although 2008 draft pick Josh Barrett played decently late in the season when given the chance.

3. Linebacker: The Broncos have some decent players here but could use a true middle or inside linebacker. They'll also have to figure out where to play D.J. Williams, but that could depend on who else is acquired in the offseason.
  • Broncos team page


    Kansas City Chiefs

    OFFSEASON STRATEGY

    Admitting he has little knowledge of the players he is inheriting, Haley planned to spend the first weeks on the job meeting with Pioli and discussing what is on the shelf and what needs to be added in the personnel ranks.

    Pioli himself spent his first weeks on the job doing the same with coach Herm Edwards before his firing, as well as with the offensive assistants who remained on the payroll after Edwards' Jan. 26 departure.



    TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS

    1. Pass rusher: After setting an NFL record for sack futility with only 10 sacks in 2008, the Chiefs desperately need people to pressure the quarterback, be they ends, linebackers or interior players. One player alone won't get it done. Finding at least two rushers in free agency or the draft is a top priority.

    2. Receivers: TE Tony Gonzalez remains the team's only consistent receiving threat, and he would rather be traded to a contender. Kansas City has to find someone to provide a threat on the side away from Dwayne Bowe.

    3. Quarterback: With the third overall pick, the Chiefs will have the chance to take a shot at a guy who could become the quarterback of the future they're talked about for years, but have never developed. Long-shot prospect Tyler Thigpen moved the team after his injury-related elevation last year, but managed to win only one game in 10 starts.
  • Chiefs team page


    Oakland Raiders

    OFFSEASON STRATEGY

    Give credit to Al Davis for retaining some of Oakland's key players fropm 2008 — throwing big bucks at CB Nnamdi Asomugha and P Shane Lechler without having to use the club's franchise tag, plus re-signing cornerback Chris Johnson, who had a surprisingly good season at age 29 in his first year as a fulltime starter after DeAngelo Hall was cut after eight games which cost the club $8 million.

    Other unrestricted free agents who the Raiders figure to make a move on before free agency hits are center Jake Grove, core special teamer Isaiah Ekejiuba and kickoff return specialist Justin Miller.



    TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS

    1. Offensive tackle: Mario Henderson gave the Raiders a glimmer of hope as a starting left tackle over the final three games, controlling Mario Williams and Gaines Adams. Right tackle Cornell Green struggled, and rushers too often got to QB JaMarcus Russell.

    2. Defensive line: Whether it is an end or a tackle, the Raiders need a stout, energetic force who is particularly tough against the run. The Raiders finished 31st in rush defense.

    3. Wide receiver: As much as Davis loves the potential of Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens, Oakland had frighteningly little production outside despite having a big-time thrower as the quarterback.
  • Raiders team page


    San Diego Chargers

    OFFSEASON STRATEGY

    All eyes will be on general manager A. J. Smith on Feb. 26 when he meets with the media to lay out his plans for next season. No. 1 will be what he will do at running back, where LaDainian Tomlinson is still productive but will be entering his ninth season next year. L.T.'s status became even more intriguing after the Chargers gave Darren Sproles the non-exclusive franchise tag to keep him away from the unrestricted free-agent market.

    The Chargers have some questions on the defensive side where there are holes at defensive end, inside linebacker and strong safety. Smith has proved he prefers filling his needs through the draft of lower-level free agents. He has never made a big splash chasing the big names during the free-agency period and that doesn't figure to change.



    TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS

    1. Running back: Strange that the team that last season had LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles would have a red flag at this position. But the team has to decide Tomlinson's situation and if Sproles is worth the dough with his undersized frame which doesn't lend itself to being an every-down back.

    2. Defensive end: The Chargers burned a second-round pick on Igor Olshansky, but they don't think enough of him to want him to remain with the team. He's a free agent and is likely gone; Chargers not sure a capable starter to replace him is on the roster.

    3. Right side of the offensive line: Guard Mike Goff isn't expected to be brought back and the team would like to upgrade the tackle spot held down by Jeromey Clary.
  • Chargers team page

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