AFC West: Bryant McKinnie

Branden AlbertPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins bolstered their O-line by agreeing to a five-year, $46 million deal with Brandon Albert.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang Tuesday, and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was one of the biggest names to switch teams. Albert signed a five-year, $46 million contract with Miami Dolphins. He spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One team’s loss is another team’s gain in free agency. ESPN.com’s Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in on both sides of the Albert signing.

James Walker: Adam, the Dolphins are ecstatic to land a player of Albert’s caliber. Pro Bowl left tackles do not grow on trees, and Albert was the highest-rated player at that position on the market. Albert also filled Miami’s biggest need on the offensive line, which was torn apart last season with the bullying controversy. The price tag wasn’t cheap. But the Dolphins feel it was worth the investment, especially after watching their quarterback get sacked a team-record 58 times last season. Albert will protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Adam, how are the Chiefs dealing with the loss of Albert?

Adam Teicher: It’s a loss for the Chiefs for the short term without a doubt. Eventually, the Chiefs should be able to handle his departure. The Chiefs and Albert were so far apart on a long-term contract last year that they knew it was never going to happen. So they began preparing for this day last year by selecting a tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. Fisher started as a rookie at right tackle but didn’t play well. He was a huge disappointment, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t eventually become the player the Chiefs envision. He needs a year in Kansas City’s weight program. That alone should make him better.

The Chiefs and Dolphins talked about a trade involving Albert last year. How disappointed was Miami they couldn’t acquire Albert then?

Walker: The Dolphins liked Albert last year, but the person calling the shots this year is different. Miami fired former general manager Jeff Ireland and hired new GM Dennis Hickey in January. Ireland liked to acquire picks as opposed to trading them away. So it wasn’t a shock when talks with Kansas City failed. It turned out to be a mistake as Miami’s offensive line was atrocious, which played a factor in Ireland losing his job. Hickey doesn’t want to make the same mistake. It appears he values the perks of a good offensive line and is making it a priority by putting money into Albert.

Adam, the Chiefs’ offensive line appears to be in transition with losses of Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. How will they recover?

Teicher: They’ve tried to prepare for this. Over the last four drafts, the Chiefs have used five picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen. Four of them will start next season. They have three developmental linemen and the Chiefs could slide one of them into a starting spot in the middle of the line. Their depth will definitely take a hit, particularly at tackle. They’ll have to find some backups and perhaps even a starter through free agency or the draft.

With regard to the offensive line, is anything left for the Dolphins to do or are they set?

Walker: The Dolphins are far from set, Adam. Unlike Kansas City, Miami has not invested much in the offensive line in the past year. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starting offensive lineman expected to return. Last year’s starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- will not return due to their involvement in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. Offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both unrestricted free agents who are long in the tooth. Pouncey and Albert are a solid foundation. But the Dolphins still need two starting guards and a right tackle to play alongside their two Pro Bowlers.
This was inevitable.

The NFL Network is reporting the San Diego Chargers visited with Pittsburgh free-agent left tackle Max Starks. He is the best option at the position in a weak market. Left tackle is the Chargers’ biggest need. After not addressing the area in the draft the Chargers talked to Bryant McKinnie last week. But he re-signed with Baltimore.

Starks was Pittsburgh’s starter last year. He also has a history with new San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who was the Steelers’ offensive coordinator early in Starks’ career.

As of now, King Dunlap is set to start. He is best suited as a backup. Starks would very likely be the favorite to start if he signs with the Chargers.
Here is a transcript of our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:

Denver

Jake from St. Louis, Mo.: Has Denver sufficiently replaced Dumervil or do you think another pass-rusher will be added? Thank you!

Bill Williamson: Well, Ayers is going to be the base starter with Phillips and Q. Smith replacing Doom on passing downs. I think in the end, they will be fine. Dumervil, will be missed, but these guys can make up for it as a group. It would be a lot more difficult if Dumervil was the team's top pass-rusher. But he was second to Von Miller.

Kansas City

Nathan M. from Texas.: Depth Chart for TE in KC? Fasano, Kelce, Moeaki?

BW: TBA. Depends on Moeaki's health and how quickly Kelce figures it out.

Oakland

David from Illinois: Do they really think that less of Pryor, and thought he deserved a shot next year?

BW: I think Pryor needs to start fast in training camp. If he struggles and Wilson shines, there will be no looking back. Wilson is this regime's player. He gets the benefit of the doubt. Once he leapfrogs Pryor, there is no looking back. So Pryor needs to show he is improved and he is the player to push Flynn early in camp or risk being buried.

San Diego

Mike from Temecula, Calif.: Hi Bill; Hope the Chargers sign McKinnie. But if that falls through, do you feel they would target Max Starks for a year or two or what other options are out there

BW: Not many. Starks if not McKinnie. I expect whoever is signed to get a one-year deal. The Chargers will then try to draft or sign a top LT next year.
The NFL Network reports left tackle Bryant McKinnie is weighing offers from the Dolphins and the Chargers. He visited San Diego on Wednesday. The Cowboys are also reportedly interested as well.

McKinnie visited the Chargers on Wednesday. The team badly needs a left tackle and if they don’t sign McKinnie, they could pursue former Steelers' tackle Max Starks or give the job to recently-acquired free agent King Dunlap. McKinnie may be the best option. But in this seller's market, McKinnie appears to have options.

In other AFC West notes:

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year's draft. Insider In this Insider piece, Todd McShay offers his preliminary list of top 32 players for the 2014 draft.

U-T San Diego reports former San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding has retired. He was cut by the team last year.
The San Diego Chargers did not address their top need in the NFL draft, so it makes sense that they ramp up their pursuit of free agent left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

CBS Sports reports that the Chargers have a visit with McKinnie, a starter on Super Bowl champion Baltimore. He is also visiting Miami.

As of now, King Dunlap would be the Chargers' left tackle, but he is not considered a solid NFL starter. But if the Chargers don’t sign McKinnie, they may have to use Dunlap as Philip Rivers’ blindside protector.

Miami’s interest in McKinnie doesn’t only impact San Diego. If the Dolphins sign McKinnie, it would officially end any chance of Miami trading for Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert.

Update: Perhaps the Chargers will show interest in Adam Synder, who was cut by the Cardinals. Synder is a solid backup at all five positions. He played for new San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt last year.

AFC West draft analysis

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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


Leave it to Manti Te'o to overshadow the No. 1 pick in the draft.

The 2013 NFL draft began when the Kansas City Chiefs took athletic Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 pick. It was a great pick, and Fisher has a chance to be a stalwart for years to come.

However, the selection of Fisher was not the story of the draft weekend in the AFC West. The headline-stealing pick came about 24 hours and 37 picks later when the San Diego Chargers, who had been very quiet this offseason, shook up the draft by taking the polarizing Notre Dame inside linebacker Te’o in a trade up.

Te’o was a highly-rated player, but was involved in a bizarre hoax involving a dead girlfriend who, it turned out, did not exist. While Te’o will be remembered for the hoax, he will now try to make a name in the AFC West.

I thought all four teams in the division (the worst division in the NFL last year) made savvy choices. When the draft grades pour in, and they will, I expect solid grades for all four teams.

In the meantime, let’s look closer at the division’s draft:

BEST MOVES

It’s difficult to beat what new San Diego general manager Tom Telesco pulled off in the second and third rounds. After taking Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker with the 11th pick in the first round, Telesco came back firing Friday with the trade up to acquire Te’o and the third-round selection of California receiver Keenan Allen.

Immediately after the Allen choice, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Telesco drafted three first-rounders. That view was later echoed by fellow ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

I expect both Te’o and Allen to contribute immediately. Allen, who has had some manageable knee issues, is a sure receiver who gives the offense-needy Chargers a serious weapon. Philip Rivers has seen several top weapons leave in free agency in recent years. He gets a gift in the form of Allen.

RISKIEST MOVES

It wasn’t all perfect for the Chargers. They entered the draft, as they entered free agency, with left tackle as their greatest need. It is still a major need.

In some ways the Chargers can’t be blamed for not addressing the position this weekend. Only three left tackles were considered sure instant starters -- Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson -- and they were all off the board in the first four picks. So the Chargers really didn’t have a chance to get any of them. Still, it is risky for the Chargers to come out of this draft without a left tackle. They may have to pursue Baltimore free agent Bryant McKinnie as a short-term rental.

[+] EnlargeOakland's D.J. Hayden
Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY SportsThe Raiders took cornerback D.J. Hayden in spite of the rare injury he suffered last year.
The Raiders also did well in the draft overall. But they did not get a sure pass-rusher. Oakland had a paltry 25 sacks last season. They need a pass-rush burst somewhere. But the Raiders had so many holes, they simply couldn't fill all of them. Oakland has to figure something out on defense, or progress will be delayed.

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

In a mild surprise, the Raiders took Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden. He is a fine player, and the Raiders maintain they would have taken him at No. 3 had they been unable to trade down with Miami and take him at 12. Now, that would have been a surprise.

Leaguewide, Hayden was expected to be taken in the 15-25 range, but several teams really liked him. The last time he was on a football field was November, when he tore a major vein that pumps blood to the heart. Such injuries are most common in auto accidents and have just a 5 percent survival rate. Still, Hayden has been cleared. I expect him to be a great immediate help for the Raiders, who badly need star power at the position.

FILE IT AWAY

Denver first-round pick Sylvester Williams is going to be an instant standout. The North Carolina product was expected to go much higher than No. 28. He is disruptive and athletic. He fits in with a young, talented Denver defense. John Elway scored on defense with his first two top picks in Von Miller and Derek Wolfe and he did it again with Williams.

AFC West links: Chargers, McKinnie talking

April, 11, 2013
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Denver Broncos

Chris Clark, who has played a valuable role as the Broncos’ No. 3 offensive tackle/special teams contributor the past three seasons, signed his $1.32 million restricted free-agent tender, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post.

Quarterback Peyton Manning is at Duke University this week throwing to Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker. Duke is where Manning did much of his rehab throwing work last year as he attempted to come back from four neck surgeries. Duke coach David Cutcliffe was Manning's offensive coordinator at Tennessee.

Manning pulled a prank on Decker.

The Broncos are keeping tabs on Oregon safety John Boyett, a potential late-round pick, writes Klis.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have a hole at inside linebacker, but could they land Manti Te'o, the draft's top-rated player at that position? Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star explores the possibility.

Reid Ferrin of the team's website profiles Alabama guard Chance Warmack as a draft prospect.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders appear close to adding running back Rashad Jennings and safety Reggie Smith. Jennings would back up starter Darren McFadden. Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times has more.

New England has signed former Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly. He started all 80 games for the Raiders the past five seasons, but was released on March 27.

According to a tweet by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, journeyman quarterback Seneca Wallace will soon be a Raider. Paul Gutierrez of csnbayarea.com has more.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are talking to free-agent left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who started for the Ravens in the Super Bowl, writes Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
As expected, the San Diego Chargers will put receiver Vincent Brown on injured reserve.

However, Brown will be able to be taken off the injured reserve, per new NFL rules, when he is healthy. He is expected to miss about half the season after breaking his ankle in the second preseason game. He is eligible to return after eight games. By putting Brown on the injured reserve, the Chargers can add a player to the roster now. The team has been looking for help on the offensive line and at cornerback.

In other AFC West news:

Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke reportedly has cleared waivers. Oakland cut the 2011 third-round pick Monday after he struggled in the preseason. It is somewhat surprising another team didn’t take a chance on a speedy, young, high pick.

CLARIFICATION: Van Dyke is not eligible for any practice squad because he played in 14 games last season, which is beyond the NFL limit for practice squad eligibility. Thus, he can only be signed to a 53-man roster.

Oakland receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Jacoby Ford (foot) did not practice Tuesday. The team has maintained it believes both players should be ready to play Monday against San Diego. However, because he is just starting to jog, Ford may have less of a chance to play than Moore.

Rookie receiver Juron Criner is reportedly dealing with an ankle issue. If these injuries do not improve through the week, Oakland may have to look for receiver help. That decision likely wouldn’t happen until later in the week.

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie restructured his contract to remain with the Ravens. Had he been cut, I’d think the Chargers would have seriously considered pursuing him. The team is staring undrafted rookie Mike Harris against Oakland next week because starter Jared Gaither is out with a back ailment.

Miami is cutting backup quarterback David Garrard. At this point, I don’t think any of the teams in the AFC West would rush to sign him.

Don’t expect the Chiefs to sign free agent defensive tackle Shaun Smith this week. I think the Chiefs will wait to see what they have at nose tackle before deciding if they want more help. Smith tried out for the Chiefs last week. He previously played for the Chiefs.

Here is a look at the AFC West’s representatives at the NFL’s kickoff festivities this week.

The Chargers signed tackle Kevin Haslam to the practice squad. He was cut by the Raiders on Friday.

What's next for the Raiders?

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The Oakland Raiders will certainly have to add another receiving weapon for quarterback Jason Campbell after star tight end Zach Miller signed with Seattle.

He was Campbell’s favorite target and the Raiders’ most reliable receiver. He led Oakland with 60 catches for 665 yards last season. The Raiders have several young receivers, but they could use a reliable, veteran presence at either tight end or receiver.

The Raiders’ starting tight end now is Brandon Myers. He has potential, but he is more of a blocker than a receiver. He has 16 catches for 99 yards in two NFL seasons.

Al Davis could pursue Giants’ tight end Kevin Boss. He is a solid player who is from the West Coast, but the Giants have shown some interest in bringing him back. Boss is no Miller, but he could help Oakland. Other free-agent tights include Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife.

Oakland could also look to sign a receiver. Among the receivers available are Malcom Floyd, Braylon Edwards and the Giants’ Steve Smith. Once the Raiders get their salary-cap situation completely taken care of, I could see them try to get an established veteran.

There are indications that they were already looking at receivers. Tuesday, on “SportsCenter,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Raiders were only one of the teams that ‘mulled’ pursuing Randy Moss before he announced his retirement. Schefter indicated Moss, who had an unsuccessful stint in Oakland in 2005-06 wasn’t interested. Last week, the Raiders sought permission from Cincinnati to talk to receiver Chad Ochocinco before he was dealt to New England.

The Raiders nearly signed Baltimore left tackle Jared Gaither during the weekend, but he still has back issues that caused him to miss all of last season. If the Raiders still want a veteran left tackle, they could pursue Bryant McKinnie. He was just released by the Vikings.

With Miler out of the picture, the Raiders have to do something and there are plenty of options.

Meanwhile, Miller told the Oakland Tribune why he chose the Seahawks. The Raiders just weren’t offering much.

Looking back at No. 7

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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Next up on the AFC West draft rewind is No. 7, which is held by Oakland:

The No. 7 Pick Since 1999
Year Team Player Pos. School Comment
2008 New Orleans Sedrick Ellis DT USC Ellis looks like he will have a long, productive career.
2007 Minnesota Adrian Peterson RB Oklahoma Peterson is one of the best all-around players in the NFL after two seasons.
2006 Oakland Michael Huff S Texas Huff has not made an impact in the NFL and he needs to show he can play at this level.
2005 Minnesota Troy Williamson WR South Carolina Williamson has been a total flameout and is no longer in Minnesota.
2004 Detroit Roy Williams WR Texas Williams hasn't been elite but solid. He is now in Dallas.
2003 Jacksonville Byron Leftwich QB Marshall Leftwich had his moments before Jacksonville gave up on him. He just signed with Tampa Bay.
2002 Minnesota Bryant McKinnie OT Miami McKinnie has been a solid performer for Minnesota.
2001 San Francisco Andre Carter DE California Carter is a decent pass rusher.
2000 Arizona Thomas Jones RB Virginia Jones didn't work out in Arizona but he has had a good career.
1999 Washington Champ Bailey CB Georgia Bailey is an elite player who will end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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