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Sunday, August 30, 2009
Could O'Connell end up in the AFC West?

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The New England Patriots' surprising release of young quarterback Kevin O'Connell will certainly be met with interest in the AFC West.

Don't be shocked at all if both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos put a waiver claim on the quarterback, who was a third-round pick in 2008. Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli and Denver head coach Josh McDaniels were directly involved in the Patriots' decision to draft O'Connell when they were key members of New England's organization.

O'Connell is expected to put on waivers on Monday and will be available for claiming on Tuesday. The claiming priority list is based on the 2008 standings. If more than one team puts a waiver claim on O'Connell, the team with the worst record in 2008 would get him. Kansas City has the third highest waiver priority and Denver has the 12th.

Pioli has built his quarterback position around former Patriots. The starter is Matt Cassel and a backup is Matt Gutierrez. Both players were with New England in 2008. If O'Connell is claimed by Kansas City, it could be another strong indication that the team will pursue a trade of backup Tyler Thigpen.

McDaniels was very high on O'Connell. With the Broncos' future at quarterback unclear, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if McDaniels tries to sign O'Connell and continue to try to develop him. The Broncos' current No. 3 quarterback is rookie Tom Brandstater, who was a sixth-round pick. If O'Connell is claimed, Brandstater could become a candidate for the practice squad.