AFC West: 09 free agency

AFC West news and notes

March, 18, 2009
3/18/09
9:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Kansas City linebacker Pat Thomas agreed to terms with Buffalo on a one-year deal Wednesday night. Thomas started nine games for the Chiefs.

The new Chiefs' regime had no serious plans of re-signing Thomas.

Meanwhile, Denver owner Pat Bowlen and Jay Cutler's agent Bus Cook discussed the quarterback's saga some more. Once again, the Broncos' owner admits he doesn't know how the situation is going to play out.

The Raiders' brass, including head coach Tom Cable, studied Cal center Alex Mack on Wednesday at the Bears' pro day. The Raiders could use a center. Cable said the Raiders' No. 7 overall pick isn't too high to take a center.

Still, it would be a surprise if the Raiders chose a center over a receiver or a tackle with their top pick. Mack is considered the top center available in the draft and he will likely be taken late in the first round.

New Denver running back Correll Buchhalter denies buying drugs from a Philadelphia area drug dealer. It will be interesting to see if the league investigates the situation.

Former Denver star tight end Shannon Sharpe weighs in on the Cutler saga in a radio interview.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It is being reported in Washington that the Redskins are trying to get Jay Cutler in a three-way deal. Interestingly, the report suggests the third team could be Kansas City.

Who would be involved? Matt Cassel perhaps? Who knows? Let's see if there are any legs to this report before getting too excited.

There were indications around the league Tuesday that Denver is still not ready to take calls about Cutler, even though he has gone public with his trade request. Meanwhile, the Washington Times is reporting the Redskins are responding to rumors linking them to Cutler by saying Jason Campbell will remain the team's quarterback. With a player of Cutler's caliber in the spotlight, expect several of these types of developments around the league.

The San Diego Union Tribune has the breakdown of LaDainian Tomlinson's' restructured contract that keeps him in San Diego. From first glance it looks like a fair deal for everyone.

Al Davis and Lane Kiffin met face-to-face Tuesday as Kiffin chose to attend Davis' hearing with Kiffin's lawyers. I'm sure there was no St. Patrick's Day cheer involved. The mere fact that Kiffin opted to attend a second day of depositions (it was his turn Monday) shows how much he wants to stick it to Davis. The result of the grievance, in which Kiffin is seeking contract money, is expected in June.

The Lions are visiting with B.J. Raji who could be a candidate for the No. 1 pick. The Lions are also interested in Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. This is of interest to Kansas City which has the No. 3 pick and an eye on Curry.

Defensive end Tyson Jackson had an average day at LSU's pro day. Denver and San Diego could have interest in him.

Meanwhile, it was reported that Denver tight end Tony Scheffler would skip a team meeting Monday. He was there. Scheffler has been subject of trade rumors along with Cutler.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The agent for new Oakland tackle Khalif Barnes scoffed at the notion that the Raiders promised they will not draft a tackle after the former Jacksonville player decided to sign a one-year contract with the team.

There was a report that said Barnes was promised Oakland wouldn't take a tackle. The Raiders have the No. 7 overall pick and it has been speculated the team could take a tackle with the choice. Barnes' agent, Ken Zuckerman, did nothing to squash that idea.

"I'm very doubtful Khalif was ever promised that and I don't put any validity into it," Zuckerman said. "I talked personally to Raiders coach Tom Cable and he gave no such promise. Khalif knows the business and he is ready to compete to start whether the Raiders draft a tackle or not."

Monday, Cable expressed the same thoughts.

Barnes is set to compete at left tackle but he can slide to right tackle if Oakland needs him to do it. Since Barnes signed a one-year deal it would be strange if the Raiders made such a commitment to him especially with such a strong class of tackles coming onto the league.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The evening winds up with new developments in the swirling Jay Cutler saga.

The most eye-opening and potentially telling information of the 15-day old drama came from Denver owner Pat Bowlen and was reported in The Denver Post on Sunday. Also, Denver TV station CBS4 is reporting Cutler and Denver tight end Tony Scheffler will not attend the Broncos' offseason workout program, which begins Monday.

Big news, indeed. But let's tackle Bowlen's statement first.

A day after the two sides had another unproductive meeting (this time in person at the team's facility), Bowlen spoke and it is clear he believes the situation with his Pro Bowl quarterback is dire.

"I'm disappointed in the whole picture," Bowlen said, "not just disappointed that we might lose our star quarterback."

There it is. The Broncos have publicly said they think Cutler could be gone because of this ordeal, which began Feb. 28 when Cutler caught wind that the Broncos were in trade discussions about dealing him and acquiring Matt Cassel. They have publicly said they have been forthright with Cutler about only listening to trade talks, while Cutler's side has maintained the Broncos were trying to trade him.

The only way the Broncos are going to lose Cutler is if they trade him. And if they trade him, they must figure out soon how to get maximum value for the strong-armed quarterback, who is entering his fourth season. The Broncos clearly don't want to trade him, but Bowlen's comments show that the team believes it is a possibility.

Meanwhile, the report that Cutler and Scheffler will not attend Monday's meeting is intriguing for several reasons.

If Cutler does, indeed, not show up it will take his saga to another level. Even though it is voluntary, players are expected to go and for the quarterback to be miss McDaniels' first function as an NFL coach would speak volumes on the rift.

Also, the report that Scheffler will stay away is intriguing. Cutler and Scheffler are close friends and both players are represented by the same agent, Bus Cook. It has been reported that the team was shopping Scheffler because he doesn't fit McDaniels' system.

Yes, this thing is getting more interesting by the day, and Bowlen's quote only thickens the plot.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The agent for Denver center Casey Wiegmann said Wiegmann will report to the team's offseason workout program Monday.

"Casey will be there and is looking forward to working with Josh McDaniels," Wiegmann's agent Joe Linta said. "Casey is looking forward to showing the Broncos he is in great shape and ready for a couple of more seasons of excellent play."

The Broncos and Wiegmann have talked about a contract extension. He has one season remaining on his contract. Wiegmann has in the past worked out on his own but his participation in Denver's program is looked at as a good faith move on his part. The two sides will likely discuss a contract extension in the summer.

Meanwhile, Linta confirmed another client, tight end Jeb Putzier, has agreed to a new contract with Denver. He signed with Denver late last season. He will be a backup.

AFC West news and notes

March, 14, 2009
3/14/09
9:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

There are two reports that say Denver quarterback Jay Cutler may be leaning toward showing up to the Broncos' offseason workout program that begins Monday. Cutler was still mulling whether to show up earlier in the week.

Whether Cutler shows up or not, it is sure to be the wildest first day of the Broncos' offseason program in the history of the franchise. If Cutler shows up, it won't instantly resolve the issue with the team. But if he does show, it will be a sure sign he is willing to mend fences.

Meanwhile, it is being reported that Cutler's parents have just put their Denver-area house up for sale. It was reported that Cutler's house was put up for sale Thursday.

The San Diego Union Tribune thinks the Chargers will take a running back with the No. 16 pick in the draft next month. Still, with so much money dedicated to running backs this year and a need on defense for an impact player, this could be a luxury pick not worth making.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that running back Michael Bush is not going to be traded. That's a good idea. Bush could be a real jewel. The Raiders owe it to themselves to see if he can become a star.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

There's been some action regarding free agency in the AFC West on Saturday.

Tackle Khalif Barnes joins Oakland after a long courtship and Karl Paymah leaves Denver for Minnesota.

Barnes and the Raiders come together after talks broke down early last week. The former Jacksonville tackle is familiar with the zone-blocking scheme Oakland uses and Oakland coach Tom Cable, whose specialty is the offensive line, wanted Barnes.

He can start at both right and left tackle so if Oakland drafts a left tackle early in the draft Barnes could slide over to the right side. Oakland opened the offseason with the hopes of signing one veteran tackle and drafting a tackle. The Raiders have the No. 7 pick in the draft and will likely choose between a receiver and tackle.

Mario Henderson played decently at the end of the 2008 season and could also be in the mix. Kwame Harris was cut after one season because of salary cap issues, plus he struggled in Oakland. Barnes is a big, strong player who has been inconsistent at times. But he does have some skills and signing him to a one-year deal was a good investment by Oakland.

Oakland has concentrated on signing its own players in free agency but these moves gives Oakland a chance to fill one of its needs.

Paymah's departure from Denver was not a surprise. Denver never tried to re-sign the cornerback and he visited several teams before signing with the Vikings.

Denver used its first three draft picks in 2005 on cornerbacks. Denver had six picks in 2005 and none of those players are on the team any longer. The list includes Maurice Clarett who was cut in the preseason of his only NFL training camp. Cornerback Darrent Williams was becoming a standout but he was shot and killed hours after the end of his second NFL season.

AFC West news and notes

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
9:16
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

• Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he did think about his life after the Chargers as insurance if he had not re-done his contract, which he did Tuesday. Tomlinson said he thought he'd fit in with New Orleans, Baltimore and (gasp) Denver.

Could you imagine LT playing for the Broncos? The sky would fall in San Diego. With Denver signing three veteran tailbacks already, the Broncos likely wouldn't have had a need for Tomlinson.

Had Tomlinson hit the open market, the likely landing spot would have been the Saints. They have a need and the presence of Tomlinson's former teammate and good friend Drew Brees would likely have made that a workable pairing.

• The Raiders are still considering Buffalo center Duke Preston. A final resolution could come within the next few days.

• Former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards discusses his situation in a radio interview.

• The St. Paul Pioneer Press says the Vikings are happy with their quarterback situation and will not pursue Denver quarterback Jay Cutler if Denver makes him available again.

• Raiders running back Darren McFadden says he's healthy and raring to go after a recent surgery.

• Two San Diego radio personalities are off the air after making comments about Tomlinson returning to the Chargers.

AFC West salary cap update

March, 12, 2009
3/12/09
4:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

While there is plenty of time remaining in the offseason, much of the money-spending portion is in the books.

Free agency has slowed down and is in the second-tier mode. So much of the team's spending will be dedicated to paying draft picks and some complementary players.

So it's a perfect time to get updated on salary cap numbers for the AFC West teams. Here is the latest information:

Denver

Cap room: $16.3 million.

Note: Does not reflect the Kenny Peterson signing that will only slightly alter the number.

What's left to do: Denver would like to add some defensive help, but he team doesn't have much cash left to pay signing bonuses after adding a dozen players early in free agency. Don't expect a lot more movement other than the draft or if the Jay Cutler saga deteriorates to the point where Denver trades him. Whatever Denver needs to do, it has the cap room to do it.

Kansas City

Cap room: $36.2 million.

Note: Does not reflect the Travis Daniels contract, it will only slightly alter the Chiefs' cap situation.

What's left to do: The Chiefs have more needs than what's available on the market. The Chiefs need to add in several areas on defense and perhaps on the offensive line. The Chiefs can do whatever they want with their truck load of cap room.

Oakland

Cap room: $13 million.

What's left to do: The Raiders need a receiver and a tackle. Oakland has the cap room if it wants to sign a veteran tackle like Orlando Pace. But after last season's spending spree, will the team want to throw out another big bonus?

San Diego

Cap room: $9.1 million.

Note: Does not reflect the signing of Kevin Burnett and the new contract for LaDainian Tomlinson. The team will lose a little for Burnett and save about $2 million with the Tomlinson deal. It will have ample cap room to do what it needs to do.

What's left to do: The Chargers could still use a safety, a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman. The Chargers are usually quiet in free agency so don't expect a late splash, but they can make a couple of small moves if they wish.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

This is the way we all thought it would end up.

Really, should LaDainian Tomlinson be anywhere but San Diego?

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Before the Chargers and their legendary running back came to an agreement, there were two months of talk that it could go the other way. Last week, Tomlinson's mother went on a San Diego radio station and said it didn't look promising that her son would return to San Diego.

Earlier this week, there were whispers that Tomlinson could end up getting cut and going somewhere else, possibly New Orleans.

But in the end, the right thing happened. It seems like a fair agreement. Tomlinson won't take a pay cut in 2009, and the Chargers get some cap relief. Next year, if Tomlinson's production continues to slip and he gets injured again, he could be on his way out.

Tomlinson is one of the greatest players in franchise history. He is a future Hall of Famer. He shouldn't have left the Chargers because of a few dollars or the fact that he is about to turn 30 or the fact that he had his least productive season in 2008 or the fact that his last two postseasons were affected by injury.

The bond was too strong for there to be a divorce. The Chargers' brass and Tomlinson and his agents deserve kudos for recognizing that. An ugly departure wasn't worthy of this relationship.

Tomlinson, although no longer San Diego's best player, is still the face of the franchise. He also is a pillar of the San Diego community.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OK, the Jay Cutler-Denver Broncos situation has taken a step back.

The two sides spoke via conference call Monday and according to a source familiar with the phone call, it did not go well.

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  NFL.com Video
  The best moments from Jay Cutler in 2008.

The conversation was supposed to be a clearing of the air after the Broncos engaged in trade talks Feb. 28. However, the rift grew bigger when the phone conversation became contentious.

Sources said the Broncos approached Cutler as if he was the one who started the trade talks and informed him that they have no plans of trading him but that they can trade him at any time.

The next step in this saga will be Monday when the Broncos start their offseason workout program. A source close to the situation said Cutler has not decided if he will attend or not. If he doesn't it will be a clear sign to the Broncos that there are legitimate problems.

The Broncos will be in trouble if Cutler isn't there because the team needs all of its players, particularly its quarterback, to be present to start the Josh McDaniels era. It is a new system and if Cutler is not there for every minute of the offseason, even the conditioning portion, the team will take a major step backward.

If Cutler doesn't show up, it could prompt Denver to renew trade talks. The problem for Denver is that it has no answers other than Cutler at quarterback. New backup quarterback Chris Simms isn't the answer.

If Denver does end up trading Cutler it will need to either get a quarterback in return (who?) or get a high draft choice and pick a rookie quarterback. That would be starting over.
However, after the latest turn in this saga, starting over might be easier.

It seems what most bothers Cutler after the conference call is that Denver is treating him as if he was the one who initiated this saga. There is a major trust issue, and if Cutler decides not to show up for offseason workouts Monday, there will be another rift in this already tense situation.

The Broncos may want it to be over, but it is nowhere near being over.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Chargers just made it official: LaDainian Tomlinson has agreed to a new contract that will keep him with San Diego through 2011.

"This is a good day for the Chargers and for Chargers fans," San Diego owner Dean Spanos said in a statement. "It was important to me to get this done so LT could continue his career here in San Diego where he means so much to our team, our fans and our community. The alternative was just unthinkable. He belongs in San Diego."

Added Tomlinson in a statement: "I love San Diego and being a part of this team with my teammates," said Tomlinson. "My number-one priority was to stay here in San Diego. I truly believe this is the place that gives me the best chance to be successful and win a championship. I want to finish the job we started when I got here eight years ago. My heart has always been in San Diego. I couldn't imagine putting on another uniform.

"I really appreciate the role Dean played throughout this process. He made it work for everyone, and I appreciate his friendship more than he knows."

Tomlinson will meet with local media Wednesday morning.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The San Diego Chargers jumped into free agency by signing Dallas linebacker Kevin Burnett.
Burnett, who hails from Southern California, chose San Diego over several teams including Oakland and Green Bay. Burnett will likely be given a chance to win a starting job at inside linebacker.

He has four career starts and he started two games for Dallas last season. Burnett is considered an interesting prospect because he is young and he has shown promise. The Chargers had hoped Anthony Waters would blossom into a starter but he was cut this offseason.

The Chargers had been very quiet in free agency as they have been concentrating on restructuring the contract of running back LaDainian Tomlinson. San Diego did visit with safety Jermaine Phillips but he re-signed with Tampa Bay.

Sound off: Terrell Owens

March, 10, 2009
3/10/09
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We're reaching out to Raiders Nation on this one.

Are you relieved that Terrell Owens signed with the Buffalo Bills or do you wish the Oakland Raiders would have made a play for the wide receiver?

Many league insiders thought Oakland would made a run at signing Owens, who was cut by Dallas last Wednesday. The Raiders have a need at receiver and a history of signing renegade players. However, Buffalo came out of nowhere and signed the enigmatic receiver.

Let us know, Raiders Nation. Are you happy or disappointed that Owens is not a Raider? Hit my mailbag and let me know what you think. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

AFC West news and notes

March, 9, 2009
3/09/09
9:33
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Chargers' running back situation remained the hot topic in the AFC West as Monday wore on.

ESPN's John Clayton reported that the contract talks between the team and running back LaDainian Tomlinson have been amicable and there is no team-imposed deadline to get a deal done. While both sides would like a resolution soon there is no deadline.

Still, if Tomlinson and the team don't come to an agreement on a new contract, he will likely be cut.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that reserve running back and return man Darren Sproles hasn't signed his franchise tag tender yet and he could conceivably miss a portion of the offseason before he signs it or until he signs an extension.

While Sproles could conceivably miss time there is virtually no way he will miss any time during the regular season because there is no way he will forego $6.62 million in 2009 salary.

Meanwhile, San Diego assistant coach and former Chargers receiver Charlie Joiner received a new bronze bust for his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. His previous bust was destroyed in a fire two years ago.

While tackle Khalif Barnes is moving on with his visits, the word around the league is that Oakland is still in play for Buffalo center Duke Preston.

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