Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Despite my desire for a quiet time in the AFC West (like that ever happens) during my vacation, there were some interesting developments. Allow me to catch up on some of the biggest headlines in the division this month upon my return.
Matt Cassel signs a monster deal with Kansas City.
My take: So much for the theories that Cassel was going to be a one-year rental in Kansas City.
I expected this move for months. I like that Kansas City completed the extension before the season. It will allow Cassel to relax and focus on getting used to the Chiefs and prepare to win instead of wondering if he'll get an extension.
Kansas City gave Cassel a load of dough. He will make more than $40 million in the first three years of the deal. I understand that some people may think he was overpaid. But Kansas City believes Cassel will be the future of the club. So, the price may be worth it.
Brandon Marshall says he will report to training camp on time.
My take: I'm surprised Marshall is taking that tact. I do, however, think it is the right move. The Broncos don't plan on giving in to Marshall's trade demands unless they are unexpectedly blown away by an offer.
So, it would behoove the receiver to get back with the team. If Marshall does show up on time, it will please the team and I believe any lingering issues can be repaired. Marshall can have a positive impact in Denver in 2009.
Jeff Garcia makes yet another plea to be the quarterback in Oakland.
My take: It looks more and more like this will be a distraction in Oakland. The Raiders need youngster JaMarcus Russell to emerge and become a quality starter. Garcia, indeed, may be the better quarterback now, but it doesn't matter. At 39, he is not the future of the Raiders. Oakland wants Russell, who is entering his third NFL season, to be the future. Playing Garcia ahead of Russell would not help the team in the long term.
Antonio Cromartie is working hard to erase a tough 2008 season.
My take: Cromartie gave a very interesting and honest interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. If he can bounce back and have a strong 2009 season, the Chargers' pass defense will be greatly improved. Cromartie was a big reason (along with the loss of linebacker Shawne Merriman to injury, of course) why San Diego's pass defense suffered last season. The team needs him to rebound and he clearly understands that.