AFC West: Brandon Manumaleuna

The San Diego Union Tribune reports San Diego running back Darren Sproles will soon decide between playing for the Chargers, Saints and Eagles. I don’t think the Chargers are going to offer the moon, so Sproles is probably looking at a smaller deal than expected. The Chargers could use him, but I think the team is also OK if he leaves.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said San Diego receiver Malcom Floyd may be the next receiver to go off the board after Santonio Holmes and Sidney Rice have agreed to big-dollar deals. Schefter reports Minnesota, among other teams, may make a run at Floyd. The Chargers likely will not match a huge deal for Floyd.

The Chiefs just announced they signed six draft picks. They are: Allen Bailey, Jalil Brown, Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller, Jerrell Powe and Shane Bannon. UPDATE: Agent Joe Linta just told me second-round pick Rodney Hudson has agreed to terms with the Chiefs.

Here is another connection between defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin and the Chiefs. It would be a great fit.

The Saints have agreed to re-sign left tackle Jermon Bushrod. He had been connected to Kansas City.

Denver signed second-round pick Rahim Moore and now have signed its top three picks.

The Lions have some interest in San Diego inside linebacker Brandon Siler.

The Bears will release tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. The Chargers liked him when he was there. If he could come cheaply, I could see him coming back to San Diego. The Chargers missed him.

Guess we can forget that Chad Ochocinco-Hue Jackson reunion. The receiver is headed to the Patriots. Jackson coached Ochocinco in Cincinnati and the two remain close. Just a thought, but maybe the idea of New England getting another receiver will make the Jets ramp up their effort to sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

The Broncos have their eyes on one of John Fox’s former players to fill a key need.

UPDATE: The Bengals agreed to terms with former Oakland starting linebacker Thomas Howard. He was a backup last year and he was not in Oakland’s plans.
The four AFC West teams were among the 23 NFL clubs that will divvy up the 32 compensatory picks that were released by the league Friday evening.

San Diego received two comp picks. Denver, Kansas City and Oakland each received one comp pick. San Diego received sixth-and-seventh-round comp picks. The Chargers will get No. 201 and No. 233. Kansas City gets a sixth-round comp pick. It is No. 199. Oakland will get No. 240 in the seventh round and Denver gets No. 246.

Per the rules, a team losing more or better comp picks than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive comp picks. San Diego lost free-agents Brandon Manumaleuna and Kassim Osgood. Kansas City lost Wade Smith.

Oakland was given a comp pick even though it did not have a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the formula, the compensatory free agents the Raiders lost were ranked higher than the free agents they signed. According to the league it’s based on a specified point differential that is based upon salary and performance.

Denver was one of 11 teams to be given a comp pick at the end of the seventh and final round to bring the total number of comp picks to 32, equaling the number of NFL teams.

The comp rules are complicated, but the bottom line, each team in the division now has extra firepower. Comp picks cannot be traded.
The San Diego Chargers made a rare trip into the land of free agency Thursday evening by signing veteran tight end Randy McMichael.

McMichael will provide solid veteran insurance behind star Antonio Gates and replaces Brandon Manumaleuna, who signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent. Manumaleuna was a blocking specialist, while McMichael is a solid receiving option. He had 34 catches for the St. Louis Rams last season.

McMichael, who turns 31 this month, has started all but one of the 116 games he has played and caught at least 60 passes in each season from 2004-2006 while with the Miami Dolphins.

I like this move. San Diego is a team rich in receivers and McMichael will be yet another reliable target for quarterback Philip Rivers. He is also good insurance for Gates, who has had several nagging injuries the past few years.
Vincent JacksonAP Photo/Michael ThomasReceiver Vincent Jackson is one of five players key to San Diego's future success.
There is no question San Diego has lost more personnel than it has gained as it attempts to rebound from a shocking playoff loss and stay among the elite teams in the AFC. Many Chargers fans worry the team has taken a step backward and could lose its grip as the four-time defending AFC West champion.

Among the departed: Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (cut and signed with the Jets), cornerback Antonio Cromartie (traded to the Jets), special-teams ace Kassim Osgood (free agent/Jacksonville), defensive tackle Jamal Williams (cut, signed with Denver) and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (free agent/Chicago).

I don’t think the losses are as devastating as they appear on paper and San Diego will not take a dramatic step backward. With the right moves in the rest of the offseason, I think the Chargers will reaffirm themselves as the top team in the AFC West. Here’s why:

All of the players who left are replaceable: None of the players who left were top-level performers on last year’s 13-3 team.

  • Tomlinson is a legend and will be missed, but his performance last year was not memorable. He had a career-low 730 yards, he didn’t have a 100-yard rushing game and the Chargers were ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing. An upgrade was needed.
  • Cromartie was a Pro Bowl player earlier in his career because he was an interception magnet. However, his interceptions have declined dramatically, he had issues in coverage and he was a major liability in the run game.
  • Third-year pro Antoine Cason will not be a big downgrade from Cromartie in coverage and he should help in ways Cromartie didn’t. Cason, the Chargers’ top pick in 2008, is a smart player who is trusted by his teammates. He is a ball hawk and doesn’t shy from run support. He has some work to do, but he won’t be a liability.
  • Williams missed all but one game last season with a triceps injury. The Chargers were moving on anyway.
  • Osgood will be missed on special teams, but his departure isn’t a devastating blow. He was a very good role player, but became too expensive for the Chargers to keep. It's time for another player to step up and become a difference-maker on special teams. The Chargers will survive this loss.
  • Manumaleuna is a fine blocking tight end, but he is not a player San Diego will be lost without. He was a role player.
The team is keeping its best players: Many San Diego fans complained the Chargers haven’t been active in free agency. That is not accurate. The team has been very aggressive -- in keeping its own players. No team had as many key decisions to make in restricted free agency.

In the end, San Diego put the high tender of first- and third-round picks on receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, linebacker Shawne Merriman, left tackle Marcus McNeill and running back/return man Darren Sproles.

Unlike the group of players who left, these five players are essential to the team’s future success. San Diego made the right decision to make it virtually impossible for another team to sign any of these players.

The team is prepared to improve in the draft: The Chargers will be adding new talent this year.

San Diego’s top two pressing needs are nose tackle and running back. San Diego is in position to find quality new starters in the draft at both positions.

In one of the shrewdest offseason moves, San Diego acquired the No. 40 pick in the draft when it traded No. 3 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to Seattle. San Diego gave up the No. 60 pick. It also got Seattle’s third-round pick next year.

San Diego now has the No. 28 and No. 40 picks in this month’s draft, giving it great drafting power. Both the nose tackle and running back classes are deep, so San Diego should get two good players. The additional picks also give the Chargers greater flexibility. They could decide to package the picks and move up in the first round to get a top nose tackle or running back.

No matter what happens, the Chargers will get better through the draft. By the time the 2010 season starts, San Diego will be just as good as it was at the end of 2009.

Draft Watch: AFC West

March, 26, 2010
NFC Needs Revisited: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Under the radar needs.


I could see Denver drafting a safety in the fourth round. Starters Brian Dawkins (36) and Renaldo Hill (31) will not be around forever. Denver did take Darcel McBath in the second round last year and he made some decent strides before getting hurt. It would hurt Denver to try to find another young safety to develop. I could also see Denver looking for a big running back late in the draft. The team needs a pounder. The Broncos struggled in short-yardage situations. The Broncos also need a punter.

Kansas City

The Chiefs have done a nice job in free agency, but they still have plenty of needs heading into the draft. Many of Kansas City’s needs are on the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas City added multiple linebackers, perhaps starting in the second round. Since the Chiefs use a 3-4 defense, they need several linebackers on an aging crew. Linebacker might be the top need after safety, offensive line and receiver. The Chiefs are young on the defensive front, but it wouldn’t hurt to get more talent in the later rounds at nose tackle. Even though tight end is not a glamour position in Todd Haley’s offense, the Chiefs do need some talent there.


After the offensive line, linebacker and quarterback, the Raiders need some defensive line help, especially at tackle. Watch for Oakland to use a mid-round pick on this position. I could also see Oakland trying to find a running back in the third-to-fifth rounds. It cut Justin Fargas and needs some help behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Oakland was set to visit with former Kansas City star Larry Johnson before he signed with Washington. Cornerback and safety are other areas Oakland might address add late in the draft. Oakland also needs some help at receiver. Ideally, it would be in the form of a veteran (Terrell Owens, anyone?) because Oakland is so green at the position.

San Diego

This is an important draft for the Chargers. The team has has lost several players this offseason. San Diego is still the class of the AFC West and it has pretty nice depth. But reinforcements are needed at several positions. The Chargers’ biggest needs are running back and nose tackle. But San Diego will be busy after filling those two early needs. San Diego could use some youth at defensive end and inside linebacker. Also, watch for the team to look for a cornerback in the post-Antonio Cromartie era. Offensively, San Diego needs a blocking tight end to replace Brandon Manumaleuna, who signed with Chicago. That position could be addressed in the middle rounds. San Diego also could use a young right tackle to groom. I could also see a young receiver taken in the late rounds.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones and Brandon MarshallUS Presswire/Icon SMI/US PresswireLaDainian Tomlinson is out in San Diego, Thomas Jones has a new home in Kansas City and Brandon Marshall's future in Denver remains uncertain.
We’re a week into free agency. Here is a look at the key aspects of the offseason for each team in the division so far and what’s ahead:


Big news: Brandon Marshall. The Broncos set the stage for Marshall’s departure by putting the first-round tender on him. It didn’t take long for Marshall to attract interest. Seattle set up a visit to bring in Marshall on the first day of free agency. The Marshall situation could drag on, especially if other teams show interest. But the fact that Marshall was in another team’s building over the weekend is big news.

Surprise: The new-look defensive line. Last year, in his first as Denver’s coach, Josh McDaniels remade the Broncos’ defensive line. He is doing it again in his second year. The Broncos have signed defensive linemen Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams. All three of these players are expected to play major roles.

Best decision: Giving Elvis Dumervil the high tender. Dumervil, 26, represents the future for Denver. He led the NFL with 17 sacks last season. Had Denver not put the high tender of a first- and third-round pick on Dumervil, he would be popular in free agency. With the high tender, Dumervil probably is staying put.

Worst decision: Not being flexible on Marshall’s compensation. It has been reported that the Broncos will keep Marshall if they don’t get a first-round pick in return for him. Perhaps this is posturing. But unless other teams start pursuing him, I don’t see Seattle giving up a first-round pick. Yet, the Seahawks could offer other creative compensation. Ultimately, the Broncos want to part ways with Marshall, but this high price tag could prevent that from happening.

What’s needed: Continue to get bigger. The Broncos added size to the defensive front. Now, they have to do so on the offensive line. Denver is moving away from the zone-blocking scheme to a more traditional power-blocking attack. The Broncos need a left guard and a center.

Kansas City

Big news: Thomas Jones signing. Next to the trade for quarterback Matt Cassel last year, this is the biggest move of the Scot Pioli era to date. The addition of Jones shows Kansas City is willing to spend and it wants to get better. The veteran running back will help this offense.

Surprise: How aggressive the Chiefs planned to be. Last year, the Chiefs were criticized for not being active. This year has been a different story. They were planning to pursue San Diego’s Darren Sproles had he hit the open market, and they tried to trade for receiver Anquan Boldin. Before signing Jones, Kansas City also was considering fellow running backs Justin Fargas and Willie Parker. It is clear the Chiefs are determined to get better.

Best decision: Re-signing Chris Chambers. Adding Jones and keeping Chambers will help Kansas City’s offense evolve in the first year under new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Chambers was Cassel’s favorite target when he was claimed off waivers by San Diego in November. A full season of playing with Chambers should help Cassel.

Worst decision: Not trading for Boldin. A receiving crew of Chambers, Boldin and Dwayne Bowe would have been formidable. The Chiefs have two second-round picks next month. It might have been worth it to trade one to get Boldin and really open up the offense.

What’s needed: Keep spending. The Chiefs are on the right track. But they need more talent throughout the team. They need to add more pieces, perhaps on the offensive line and in the defensive back eight.


Big news: No big spending. For the second year in a row, the Raiders are watching free agency as bystanders. Two years ago, the Raiders spent wildly. It didn’t work, and most of their 2008 free-agency class has been cut. The Raiders are sitting on the sideline in this uncapped year. You would think Al Davis would make a splash or two, but he has been very quiet.

Surprise: The release of Greg Ellis. The defensive end was cut after one season with the team. Ellis had seven sacks last year, but he dealt with injuries. Still, he may have a year or two left. Yet, the Raiders decided to go with youth at the position. Perhaps that is a good sign of things to come. Of course, they gave another 30-year-old defensive end, Richard Seymour, the franchise tag after giving up a 2011 first-round pick for him. You never know the thought process in Oakland.

Best decision: The release of Javon Walker. This move was a long time coming. Walker was one of the worst free-agent decisions in NFL history. Oakland gave him a six-year, $55 million deal with $16 million in guaranteed money in 2008. He had 15 catches in two seasons in Oakland. He never helped.

Worst decision: Giving Stanford Routt the high tender. The backup cornerback was given the high tender of a first- and third-round pick. Routt is not a starter and is a marginal backup. Even if Oakland put the first-round tender on Routt, he wouldn’t have attracted interested. The move simply cost the Raiders money and served no purpose.

What’s needed: The Raiders have to spend some. It’s admirable that Oakland has learned its lesson from its horrible spending spree of two years ago. But the Raiders need help. This isn’t a playoff- quality roster. The team needs help in several areas. The Raiders don’t have to spend huge, but they do need some new players.

San Diego

Big news: The team is losing numbers. The Chargers cut former stars LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Williams. Then they traded cornerback Antonio Cromartie and lost free agents Kassim Osgood and Brandon Manumaleuna. The Chargers have not added any players of note. San Diego prides itself on its depth and none of these players are irreplaceable, but the Chargers could miss some of them.

Surprise: The Chargers gave the high tender to running back Darren Sproles. San Diego was expected to let the change-of-pace running back/return star test the market, but Sproles was tendered at the deadline. Good thing for San Diego, because Sproles probably would have been signed within 48 hours on the open market.

Best decision: Trading Antonio Cromartie. The team grew tired of the cornerback, who struggled at times on the field and had some off-field issues. Cromartie was sent to the Jets for a 2011 third-round pick that could turn into a second-round pick, depending on playing time. It was a good value for a player San Diego couldn’t wait to part ways with.

Worst decision: Not re-signing Jamal Williams. Only because it allowed Denver to sign him. Williams probably doesn’t have much left. But if he does, the Chargers will regret seeing Williams play well for a rival.

What’s needed: A running back. The Chargers are taking a calculated risk. They are not impressed with the free-agent class, so they are waiting for the draft. It is a deep draft. The Chargers clearly feel they can get a primary back then. Still, it is a tad scary waiting for an unknown rookie to be the primary back.
The San Diego Chargers did not want Kassim Osgood back.

It didn’t take him long to find a new home. Osgood reportedly has agreed to terms with Jacksonville. On Thursday, the Chargers announced that they would not bring back Osgood.

San Diego will miss Osgood, one of the best special teams players in the league.

However, Osgood wanted to play receiver and San Diego never had any room for him on offense. He should get a chance to play receiver for the Jaguars.

Osgood is the third San Diego player to leave in the past two days. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was traded to the Jets for a future draft pick and reserve tight end Brandon Manumaleuna signed with Chicago.
Brandon Manumaleuna is a Bear simply because Chicago needed him more than the San Diego Chargers.

Manumaleuna became one of the first unrestricted free agents to change teams. The Bears were ultra aggressive in pursuing the blocking tight end.

Manumaleuna reunites with former St. Louis coach Mike Martz, who is the Bears’ new offensive coordinator. Martz targeted Manumaleuna because he covets blocking tight ends.

San Diego liked Manumaleuna, but he was a role player on the team's pass-happy offense. The Chargers just couldn’t compete financially to keep him. Watch for San Diego to try to draft a big tight end in the middle to late rounds.
The Chicago Bears are bringing in tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a visit on Friday.

Chicago may offer Manumaleuna enough make him sign while on his visit. He is a blocking specialist, who the Chargers would want back, but at the right price. San Diego may be preparing for Manumaleuna to depart.

ESPN’s John Clayton has reported that the Chargers have re-signed tight end Kris Wilson to a two-year contract worth $1.7 million.

The Denver Post is reporting that the Broncos are lining up several visits for Friday. Most of these visits are for interior linemen on both sides of the ball as Denver tries to get bigger.

Expect Friday morning and afternoon to offer more news about visits and signing around the division.
The Denver Post reports the Broncos have brought back running back J.J. Arrington. He was signed by the Broncos last year but the deal was scuttled because he was hurt. Arrington will have a chance to a third-down back.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010

Potential unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd

Potential restricted free agents: LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler, DT Le Kevin Smith

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Broncos’ restricted class is talented. That will be the focus. It has been reported that Marshall, Orton, Dumervil, Scheffler and Kuper will all get one-year tenders. Marshall very well could be traded. It wouldn’t be a shock if Dumervil gets some action on the restricted market. Miami could be interested.

Kansas City

Potential unrestricted free agents: OL Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jackie Battle, QB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, OL Ikechuku Ndukwe, OL Rudy Niswanger, OL Ryan O'Callaghan, S Jarrad Page

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Chiefs are interested in keeping some of their unrestricted free agents. General manager Scott Pioli said at the combine the team has been in contact with several of their free agents. Chambers is the focus. The team is trying to keep him. Brown and Vrabel could also return with new deals.


Potential unrestricted free agents: S Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Potential restricted free agents: LB Jon Alston, OL Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, LB Jon Condo, QB Charlie Frye, QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Thomas Howard, RB Luke Lawton, OL Chris Morris, LB Kirk Morrison, CB Stanford Routt, RB Gary Russell

Franchise player: DE Richard Seymour.

What to expect: The Raiders franchised Seymour and signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a record deal, so they’ve already been busy. It will be interesting to see how they tender Howard and Morrison. The Raiders could use some new life at linebacker and this could be the start of it.

San Diego

Potential unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Potential restricted free agents: OL Jeromey Clary, LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Travis Johnson, OL Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles, QB Charlie Whitehurst

Franchise player: None

What to expect: The Chargers have their hands full. It’s been reported they will give high tenders to Jackson, Merriman, McNeill and Floyd. Jackson and McNeill could still attract some interest on the restricted market. Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him a free agent. The Chargers want him back. But if Sproles hits the open market, the multifaceted weapon could be scooped up quickly.
Most of the AFC West star power in free agency will be in restricted free agency.

There are several fantastic players in the division who are restricted free agents, including Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Marcus McNeill and Elvis Dumervil. However, those players are going to be difficult to sign because of the draft compensation involved.

The division’s unrestricted class is less impressive but there will be some talent available when free agency begins Friday. Here is a look at the top-five available free agents in the division:

1. Darren Sproles, running back/returner, San Diego: Technically, Sproles is not an unrestricted free agent. He is a restricted free agent who is not expected to be tendered, so Sproles will be free to sign anywhere. The Chargers are still trying to get a long-term deal done with him. Sproles, a multi-faceted weapon, will be very popular on the open market and it may be difficult for San Diego to keep him if he isn’t re-signed by Friday. Reports indicate that San Francisco and Washington will pursue him.

2. Chris Chambers, receiver, Kansas City: Chambers showed after he was claimed off waivers by San Diego that he is still a solid weapon. I wouldn’t be shocked if he strikes a deal to stay in Kansas City before free agency starts.

3. Kassim Osgood, receiver, San Diego: Osgood could be popular on the open market. He is one of the best special teams players in the NFL and he believes he can help at receiver. Osgood's desire to play the position could mean he will leave San Diego since the Chargers have been reluctant to use him on offense.

4. Brandon Manumaleuna, tight end, San Diego: Manumaleuna is an underrated player. He is a fine blocker and a hard worker. Chicago may make a run at him.

5. Mike Vrabel, linebacker, Kansas City: At this point in his career, Vrabel, 34, is more of a leader than a star on the field. But he still has something left and a contender could be attracted to his experience and leadership.

Chargers and Raiders notes

February, 28, 2010
The San Diego Union Tribune reports the Chargers are going to make it difficult for four of their restricted free agents to leave.

Receivers Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, linebacker Shawne Merriman and left tackle Marcus McNeill will also receive the high tender. Any team that wishes to sign any of these players will have to surrender a first and third round pick to sign the players. Even if a team decides to swallow the high cost, San Diego would have the right to match the offer.

The only player who could possibly attract a first and third-round pick may be Jackson.

Jackson and McNeill were expected to get the high tender. Merriman and Floyd’s designations are a bit surprising, but the Chargers value both players.

• Backup running back Darren Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him free to sign elsewhere starting Friday. The Chargers are still interested in signing him to a long-term deal.

The Union Tribune is also reporting that cornerback Antonio Cromartie could be traded to Detroit. The Chargers have been shopping him for weeks.

The Chicago Tribune reports that backup San Diego tight end Brandon Manumaleuna could attract interest on the open market from the Bears and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Manumaleuna played for Martz in St. Louis.

• Meanwhile, Oakland coach Tom Cable said he has no regrets about trading a 2011 first-round pick to New England for Richard Seymour. What else is Cable going to say about the franchise-tagged 30-year-old defensive end? Oakland has no choice but to stand behind Seymour.

• Also, Cable said what has been expected: It will be an open competition for Oakland’s starting quarterback job. Expect Bruce Gradkowski to have the edge over JaMarcus Russell heading into camp.

AFC West mailbag

February, 24, 2010
Mid-week mail call:

Jarrod Rollins from Fresno, Ca. wants to know if San Diego could trade Antonio Cromartie to Oakland for running back Michael Bush.

Bill Williamson: I can see the connection. San Diego tried to acquire Bush from Oakland at the trade deadline in 2008, but the Raiders were reluctant to make the trade. San Diego needs a big running back as it tries to find a replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson. Oakland could use Cromartie, who is being shopped. He’d be solid opposite to star left cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. This makes sense. I’m just not sure the Chargers and Raiders are interested in making each other better. If Bush were to be the missing link for San Diego, Oakland would be a laughing stock. It’s too risky.

Amanjot from Granite Bay, Ca. wants to know if it’s possible former Denver coach and new Washington coach Mike Shanahan could pursue Broncos running back Peyton Hillis as a trade.

BW: It could be a possibility. I think it is clear Hillis is valued by Shanahan more than New Denver coach Josh McDaniels. After making an impact as a rookie in Shanahan’s offense, the 2008 seventh-round pick was not used much at all by McDaniels last season. If McDaniels doesn’t have any plans for Hillis, he might as well deal him. I bet Shanahan would give up a low-round pick for Hillis.

Neil from College Station, Texas wants to know if San Diego will make tight end Brandon Manumaleuna a priority in free agency.

BW: San Diego has a lot to do in free agency. The Chargers have several key restricted free agent opportunities and they will be the keys to San Diego’s free agency. With that being said, I’m sure n Manumaleuna is a priority. He is an unrestricted free agent. He does a lot in San Diego’s offense and he is well respected by the team’s brass. I expect San Diego to keep him.

Free agency: AFC West

February, 15, 2010
AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC West.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

[+] EnlargeChris Chambers
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelKansas City wide receiver Chris Chambers had 608 yards on 36 receptions after being acquired off waivers in November.
Denver Broncos

Unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd.

Key figures: There isn’t much here. The team could bring back Hochstein, Holliday and Law, but they are all complementary pieces. It’s all about the restricted free-agent class in Denver. The Broncos have to figure out what they are going to do with receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Elvis Dumervil, quarterback Kyle Orton and tight end Tony Scheffler.

Kansas City Chiefs

Unrestricted free agents: S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade,

Key figures: Chambers will be Kansas City's priority. He gave the Chiefs’ offense a big spark after he was claimed off waivers in November. The team’s brass really likes what Brown and Vrabel bring to the team and both could be back in Kansas City at the right price. Wade also could be brought back.

Oakland Raiders

Unrestricted free agents: Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, K Sebastian Janikowski, DE Richard Seymour, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Key figures: It’s all about Seymour and Janikowski. The Raiders are trying to get long-term deals with both players done. If new deals aren’t struck, watch for Oakland to put the franchise and transition tags on them. Oakland will do anything it can not to lose either player.

San Diego Chargers

Unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Key figures: The team would like to bring back Osgood, one of the best special-teams players in the NFL. But Osgood wants a chance to be a receiver and the opportunity might not be in San Diego. The Chargers will spend most of their energy on their restricted class. The priorities are receiver Vincent Jackson, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman, running back Darren Sproles and receiver Malcom Floyd.



Saturday, 12/20
Sunday, 12/21
Monday, 12/22