AFC West offseason breakdown
While the Broncos don’t have a lot of free agents, they need to make major upgrades on defense. New head coach John Fox will be switching the defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3 next season, so it remains to be seen if the personnel left over from last season is a good fit for that defense.
The biggest issue on offense is what to do with QB Kyle Orton, who carries a base salary of nearly $6.9 million into next season. Orton played well for a long stretch last season. And keep in mind Fox was not around when QB Tim Tebow was drafted, so he has no allegiance to him.
Key Free Agents
Ryan Harris, ORT — The Broncos have next to no depth behind Harris, so they’re expected to do what they can to re-sign him.
Champ Bailey, CB — The team is not expected to use its franchise tag on the defensive back who turns 33 in June. However, it’s hard to see a viable replacement within the 80-man roster.
DE, DT, SLB, MLB, CB
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were one of the biggest surprise teams last season. Under the tutelage of Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis, QB Matt Cassel had a very solid season. But Weis left to take a job at the University of Florida, and Cassel did not play well over the final few games, including the playoff loss to Baltimore. So, new quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn will have to get Cassel back on track.
The defense also made significant strides last season, but it has more work to do to get back to the playoffs.
Key Free Agents
Casey Wiegmann, C — The veteran interior lineman was one of the biggest reasons why the Chiefs offensive line saw such an improvement last season. It’s not known if Wiegmann, who turns 38 in July, still wants to play another year, however.
Ron Edwards, DT — The Chiefs really don’t have any viable replacement for him on their 80-man roster, which could explain why free-agent NT Shaun Rogers visited the team this week.
Mike Vrabel, OLB — Vrabel, who turns 36 in August, could be replaced by backup OLB Andy Studebaker.
Brandon Carr, CB — He’ll likely be a restricted free agent in the new CBA assuming the old free agency rules will be in effect.
WR, ORT, DE, OLB, FS
Despite finishing 8-8 last season, Raiders owner Al Davis fired Tom Cable. New coach Hue Jackson will have his hands full getting the team over.500 since the Raiders have 26 free agents, and nine of their 22 starters are unsigned.
Jackson’s biggest challenge will be to develop QB Jason Campbell, who did not play at a particularly high level last season.
Key Free Agents
Michael Bush, RB — Because Bush spent his rookie season on the NFI list (non-football injury), it’s believed he has only three years of service. So, it’s likely he will be a restricted free agent when the new free agency rules are known once the new CBA is finished.
Zach Miller, TE — Miller could be an unrestricted free agent if the old free agency rules apply. If he becomes a restricted free agent, look for the team to place a first-round tender on him. He’s clearly the team’s most reliable passing target.
Robert Gallery, G — The veteran lineman never really fit in at left tackle, but he found a nice home at guard over the years.
Samson Satele, C — The Raiders have no other centers left on their roster, so re-signing him is not out of the question.
Langston Walker, ORT — While Walker turns 32 in September, it’s not like they have anyone on their 80-man roster ready to replace him.
Kamerion Wimbley, SLB — His rookie deal will void, but a source said the team has strong interest in re-signing him once the new CBA is completed.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB — It’s highly unlikely the Raiders will be able to re-sign him since his contract will void, so look for Asomugha to sign a big deal elsewhere.
Stanford Routt, CB — Routt has really good size and speed, but has only been a full-time starter in two of his six years of play.
Michael Huff, FS — Huff has never lived up to the hype of being the sixth pick overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, but he did show improvement last season.
QB, ORT, G, DT, WLB, CB, FS
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers were one of the most underachieving teams during 2010 based on the expectations for them. Their special teams units let them down in the first half of the season, and some team observers felt that cost them some games. But injuries at running back and wide receiver also were a factor.
The Chargers have 25 free agents, but fewer than 10 could be classified as key players. They already made the expected move of placing their non-exclusive franchise tag on WR Vincent Jackson, but they also need to re-sign WR Malcom Floyd.
Key Free Agents
Vincent Jackson, WR — The Chargers placed their non-exclusive franchise tag on him, so at least they are acting like they want him back for another season. And it’s not like they have anyone to replace him.
Malcom Floyd, WR — Floyd, who signed with the team as an undrafted rookie in 2004, turns 30 in September. The veteran wideout was headed for a big season in 2010 before a hamstring injury caused him to miss five games and parts of others.
Jeromey Clary, ORT — Clary has started all 42 games he has been available for over the past three seasons, so it would make sense to re-sign him. And it’s not like the Chargers have anyone to replace him, either.
Jacques Cesaire, DE — The veteran defensive end, who turns 31 in August, has played his entire career with the Chargers since signing with them as an undrafted rookie in 2003.
Stephen Cooper, ILB — Cooper turns 32 in June, so he might not be a priority. However, he fits in well with San Diego’s physical 3-4 defense.
Kevin Burnett, ILB — The Chargers really don’t have anyone to replace him, so it would behoove them to re-sign the veteran linebacker.
Antwan Applewhite, OLB — Pressed into action because of injuries, Applewhite played well last season. He’ll likely be a restricted free agent when the new CBA is completed.
Eric Weddle, FS — He’ll be unrestricted or restricted depending on the new rules of the CBA, but the coaching staff likes Weddle, so look for the Chargers to do what they can to keep him.
WR, DE, ILB, CB