Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Top AFC West storylines
By Bill Williamson
Let’s take a look at the biggest storyline for each AFC West team as we prepare for offseason news:
Denver: Will it land a big fish? Last year, the Broncos were the story of the offseason when they signed Peyton Manning. Denver is now a Super Bowl threat and Manning, who will turn 37 next month, has a limited window. Will Denver, which has more than $18 million in salary-cap space, try to get a top free agent in addition to securing left tackle Ryan Clady, whether via an extension or by giving him the franchise tag? Perhaps Denver will sign a big-name receiver or pursue a trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis. Is it likely? I wouldn’t say so, but a year ago today, did you think Manning would be a Bronco?
Kansas City: Where will the Chiefs find their quarterback? Right now, it’s the biggest storyline in the division. The Chiefs have options: pursue a veteran in free agency or via trade, or take a signal-caller in the draft, either with the No. 1 pick overall pick or after trading down. Right now, I’d lean toward the Chiefs trying to make it work with a veteran without taking too much of a risk. The best bets could be San Francisco’s Alex Smith or Seattle’s Matt Flynn. But this story is fluid.
Oakland: How can it get better? The Raiders have a lot of work to do. They aren’t in a terrible salary-cap mess like last year, but the situation isn’t great, either. They may have to cut players like defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and even quarterback Carson Palmer. And Oakland has key free agents -- including tight end Brandon Myers, linebacker Philip Wheeler and punter Shane Lechler -- it may hope to re-sign. Plus, Oakland has many holes. This team has to deal with a lot of moving parts while trying to improve a roster than is arguably one of the worst in the NFL.
San Diego: Can it improve the offense? The Chargers made some strong leadership hires, but the offense needs retooling, particularly the offensive line. Philip Rivers is 31 and he needs help. The new brass needs to find way to get better offensively quickly or the unit will continue to struggle.