AFC West: Buffalo Bills

Double Coverage: Chiefs at Bills

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
12:00
PM ET
Alex Smith and Mario WilliamsAP PhotosAlex Smith will face Mario Williams and a pass rush that have the second-most sacks in the league.
The 8-0 Kansas City Chiefs have some big games upcoming, including showdowns for AFC West supremacy on Nov. 17 and Dec. 1 against the Denver Broncos. But first is Sunday’s game against the 3-5 Bills in Buffalo.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Bills reporter Mike Rodak discuss the game:

Teicher: With the exception of three lost fumbles, it looks like quarterback Thad Lewis is playing better than the Bills had a right to expect. For those of us who aren't familiar with his game, give us a little scouting report with regard to his strengths and weaknesses and things he might be able to do -- if he is able to play Sunday -- that could give the Chiefs some trouble.

Rodak: I think you nailed it. Even though Lewis is still in the bottom third of the league among quarterbacks, the Bills are more than happy with what they're getting from him. Most importantly, Lewis is a heady player with a real strong grasp of the offense. That's what impressed offensive coordinator Nate Hackett when they sat down with Lewis after EJ Manuel's injury and why they chose him. He's physically not the most gifted quarterback, but Hackett likes Lewis' arm strength. We've seen it on some deeper passes Lewis has completed in the past three games, and if he can get the protection, they're going to keep trying that. As a runner, Lewis isn't Terrelle Pryor, but he has the mobility to run the read-option the Bills like to mix in out of their no-huddle offense. The question is, how much will they run him? Lewis got drilled from behind on a designed run to begin the game Sunday, suffering bruised ribs, and his status against the Chiefs is still up in the air. If Lewis plays Sunday, the Chiefs shouldn't have to worry too much about him as a runner.

Adam, I'm sure you've been asked this plenty of times this season, but what has clicked for the Chiefs? Was it the move away from Scott Pioli and Todd Haley/Romeo Crennel to John Dorsey and Andy Reid, or were there personnel changes that made a bigger impact?

Teicher: The coaching and administration moves were huge. For the previous four seasons the Chiefs had a lot of guys with their own agendas, pulling in different directions and focusing on things that didn’t matter. Dorsey and Reid deserve a lot of credit for getting everyone to fall in line behind them. Everyone has the same goals now. Reid has persuaded some players to put aside personal goals for the greater good. A lot of Chiefs players were tired of the losing and the sideshow stuff and were ready to be led in a positive direction. Reid walked through the doors with some impressive credentials and they listened to him. As far as personnel changes, most of the Chiefs' better players are ones who were here when Reid and Dorsey arrived. The only new guy in what you could call a key role is QB Alex Smith. Otherwise, most of their key players (Jamaal Charles, Branden Albert, Dontari Poe, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry) have been around.

Smith was sacked six times against Cleveland last week and 24 times this season, so pass protection has been a problem for the Chiefs. The Bills are doing a good job getting after the opposing quarterback. What have teams done to try to counter Mario Williams, and do the Bills have anyone else consistently putting pressure on the quarterback?

Rodak: I think the best job an opposing offense has done against Mario Williams was in Week 6, when the Bengals took down the Bills in overtime. They caught the Bills off guard by opting for a shorter passing game, forgoing the chance to attack a shaky (at the time) Bills secondary with A.J. Green. Instead, Marvin Jones had a 34-yard end-around run and a 42-yard catch-and-run in the first seven minutes of the game that set the tone. Williams finished with just one tackle and a half-sack, even with the extra period. The Bills don’t have a player putting up 11 sacks like Williams, but their pair of defensive tackles -- Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus -- are among the better duos in the league. Each has four sacks. Overall, Mike Pettine’s defense thrives on generating pressure from many different sources, including the defensive backs. Andy Reid is a veteran coach and knows his offense will have to be ready for the blitz from start to finish Sunday.

Adam, would you say the Chiefs are effective in spite of Alex Smith this season -- he has posted just an 82.1 QB rating -- or because of him? Is their success through the first half of the season sustainable even with Smith at quarterback?

Teicher: There are things Smith can be doing better, but they’re 8-0 because of him, not in spite of him. Among the things Smith has done exceedingly well are protect the ball and run from trouble. Smith has thrown only four interceptions, so he’s not forcing the ball into tight situations or otherwise taking risks with it. He’s fumbled just once, and the Chiefs even recovered on that one. For him to handle the ball on every offensive play and have only four turnovers is amazing. When he’s been sacked, he’s holding on to the ball. Smith is the Chiefs’ second-leading rusher and has scrambled out of trouble a number of times. It’s fair to say they wouldn’t be 8-0 without his running ability. It’s been that valuable. That said, Smith needs to complete a higher percentage of his passes. Right now, he’s only at about 59 percent. Getting that into the low to mid 60s would make a big difference for the passing game. The Chiefs also have trouble getting touchdowns in the red zone. That can’t all be blamed on Smith, but he can be more efficient inside the 20.

I can’t figure out why the Bills aren’t better defensively. They’ve been solid against the run, have strong pass-rush capability, create a good number of turnovers, yet still have allowed 20 or more points in every game. I know they’ve allowed some big pass plays. Is that the only reason they haven’t been better defensively?

Rodak: I think the big plays are part of it, Adam. The Bills have allowed 14 receptions of 35 yards or more, the most in the NFL. But the Chiefs have allowed 12, the second-most, so there’s more to it than that. I think the first place to look is on the other side of the ball, where the Bills' offense averages just 27:41 in time of possession. That’s the fourth-lowest mark in the league and is putting stress on the defense. The Bills have a creative mind in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and talent at all three levels of their defense. But their offense, between injuries and inexperience, has been so ineffective at some stretches that the defense just can’t hold up. This is a defense that has put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forced some turnovers, but they’ll need to prevent the big play and have their offense pick up some slack going forward.

Adam, what do you think it will take for the Chiefs to lose Sunday?

Teicher: Opponents have started to give the Chiefs their best shots. Houston did two weeks ago and Cleveland did last week, and each team came close to knocking off the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. So if the Texans and Browns can keep things close in Kansas City, it reasons that the Bills can beat them in Buffalo. The Chiefs have played the past couple of weeks, and particularly against Cleveland, as if they’re weary of the burden of being the NFL’s remaining unbeaten team. They took a 13-0 lead against the Browns, then looked like they ran out of energy. They’ll need to bring more Sunday in Buffalo or they certainly could be in trouble. The Bills could make things easier on themselves by getting an early lead. The Chiefs have led much of the time this season and have been able to play the games on their terms. When they’ve been behind, it’s never been by more than a touchdown. Kansas City has trailed in the fourth quarter in just one game, that being by four points early in the final period on Oct. 6 in Tennessee. That deficit didn’t last long, so it would be interesting to see how they do if they need to play catch-up late in a game.

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Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston checks in at No. 87 and San Diego pass-rusher Dwight Freeney comes in at No. 90 on ESPN.com’s top 100 defensive players list.

These are two players at different ends of their careers. Houston is establishing himself as one of the better young pass-rushers and Freeney, in his first season in San Diego, is hoping to show his patented pass-rush burst for another year or two.

In other AFC West notes:

U-T San Diego reports Chargers rookie linebacker Manti Te'o is back in a walking boot. Te'o, who was hurt Aug. 8 against Seattle, reportedly was out of the boot Monday. He was supposed to be out for a week. Now, it looks like he will have a difficult time playing Saturday at Arizona. That is a blow since Te’o is set to start in the regular season and he needs the preseason work.

Oakland safety Charles Woodson stuck up for former teammate Aaron Rodgers. Former Green Bay receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver have been critical of Rodgers recently. Woodson said Rodgers was the catalyst of the Packers.

Oakland’s starting defensive line practiced together Tuesday for the first time this camp after defensive tackle Pat Sims returned after missing extensive time and fellow defensive tackle Vance Walker returned to practice Monday.

Oakland has signed tackle Tony Hills. He was cut by Buffalo on Sunday. The Raiders need bodies at the position. Still, it is unlikely Hills can be a factor in the regular season. The Raiders waived injured kicker Eddy Carmona. With Sebastian Janikowski present, Carmona was always on borrowed time in Oakland.

Former Oakland business leader Amy Trask has joined CBSSports.com. She left the Raiders in May.
One of the reasons why the Oakland Raiders signed Charles Woodson at the age of 36 is to be a mentor to their large group of young defensive players.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen told me as much earlier in training camp.

In a conference call with reporters, former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian said leadership is a huge reason why aging stars like Woodson are brought to young teams like Oakland.

“[Mentoring] is clearly the role Charles can play because he's been such a great player over time and such a great leader and a great person,” Polian said. “I'm sure that's what the organization knows for sure he can bring. What he can give you as a player is almost a bonus in that situation when you're in this kind of a rebuilding mode.”

Polian equated Woodson's signing to the time he brought defensive end Art Still to Buffalo in 1988 after Still had played in Kansas City for 10 years.

“I was able to see what value Art brought, and we brought him in at the very tail end of his career in Buffalo to be in essence a role model for all of those other young players to say here's a guy who's been an All-Pro, who's a really great player, who still has a little bit left, but he knows he's approaching the end, and he will give you -- just follow him,” Polian said. “Just do what he does, and you'll learn how to become a winner in the National Football League.“
Running back Peyton Hillis signed with Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The 27-year-old spent last season with the Chiefs, but the new Kansas City regime had no interest in bringing him back. The Chiefs took running back Knile Davis (from Hillis’ alma mater, Arkansas) in the third round as a backup for star Jamaal Charles.

The previous regime brought Hillis to Kansas City on a one-year deal, with the idea of him being a dynamic backup to Charles. Hillis, a former standout in Cleveland, had 309 yards on 85 carries last season.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs suffered a blow on the first day of rookie training camp. The Kansas City Star reported that the team's fifth-round pick, defensive back Sanders Commings, fractured his left collarbone and will likely miss all of camp. He has a chance to help this season, but this is surely a setback. Commings had a strong offseason session.

In other AFC West notes:

The Raiders cut cornerback Coye Francies and linebacker Travis Goethel -- Francies because of a failure to disclose a physical condition. Both were backups last year. Goethel was once considered a promising prospect, but injuries derailed his Raiders career. He will most be remembered in Oakland for a disastrous night as a long-snapper in the opening loss to San Diego last season, after standout Jon Condo was hurt.

Buffalo cut pass-rusher Mark Anderson. He was injured last season. He had 10 sacks for the Patriots in 2011. Oakland needs a pass-rusher badly; perhaps it could show some interest in Anderson.

ESPN.com columnist Jeffri Chadiha thinks the Broncos can handle a four-game NFL suspension of star linebacker Von Miller.
New San Diego Chargers head coach and former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said he has come to terms with a crucial third-down call made late in an eventual loss to Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoffs. Recently, Broncos head coach John Fox said the decision “gnaws” at him. Fox, who took responsibility, wasn’t blaming McCoy at all.

Do I think this will be an issue moving forward for the two men? No, not at all. They were together as coaches for a long time. There’s no issue.

In other AFC West notes:

In an Insider piece, Mel Kiper explains why he thinks the Chiefs had the best offseason in the NFL. Insider Thus, the praise for the new Kansas City regime continues.

The Buffalo News reports former Bills’ receiving great Andre Reed will be a Kansas City coaching intern.

CBS Sports thinks Denver nickel cornerback Chris Harris is the most underrated player in the NFL. That’s pretty heady stuff, but there’s no doubt, the former undrafted free agent has become an impact player in Denver.
The San Diego Chargers received terrible news Tuesday in their second day of organized non-contact drills.

The team announced 2012 first-round pick Melvin Ingram has a torn ACL.

The Chargers were counting on Ingram to provide a strong pass rush. He had a slow start to his rookie season, but he showed promise late. The team saw veteran edge rushers Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes leave in free agency.

Ingram was expected to be the primary pass-rusher from the edge. Defensive linemen Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget provide good pass-rush burst from the line, but the Chargers need an outside presence. Former first-round pick Larry English in on the roster, but he has shown he can’t be counted on. The Chargers drafted Tourek Williams in the late rounds last month. His route to the field may be expedited with Ingram’s injuries.

I’d think the Chargers would seriously consider pursuing veteran Dwight Freeney. He was in Indianapolis with new San Diego general manager Tom Telesco. Veteran John Abraham is also out there.

With Ingram out for the year, the Chargers will have to find help somewhere.

This will be a tough setback for a young player. His career will certainly be salvageable, but it will be such a waste to lose his second NFL season in May.

In other AFC West news:
  • The Chiefs claimed offensive lineman Matt Reynolds from the Eagles and cornerback Buddy Jackson from the Giants. Reynolds was coached by new Kansas City coach Andy Reid last season.
  • The Bills claimed tight end Mickey Shuler. He was cut by the Raiders.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each AFC West team thus far this offseason:

Denver: defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. The Broncos have made some big-ticket moves, including the signings of receiver Wes Welker, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and guard Louis Vasquez. But landing Knighton should not be overlooked. He fills a big need. He is a massive hole-plugger who should make a good defense even better. He was a favorite of former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, now Denver’s defensive coordinator. Knighton will be used correctly and should instantly be comfortable in Denver’s system. A run-stuffer was one of Denver’s greatest needs after last season. The position is now a strength.

Kansas City: defensive end Mike DeVito. DeVito wasn’t a big name to the average fan, but he is a favorite of NFL scouts. He was expected to be a hot commodity in free agency and the Chiefs made an immediate, winning run at him. DeVito reunites with former Jets assistant coach Bob Sutton, now Kansas City’s defensive coordinator. DeVito is a strong run defender and a relentless player overall. He is versatile and can rotate with 2012 first-round pick Dontari Poe. This could make Poe, who played well at the end of last season, even better. Strong move.

Oakland: defensive tackle Pat Sims. The football people I’ve spoken with believe Sims has among the best upside of the players the Raiders have brought in this offseason -- affordable, young, fringe-starter types who will be asked to take the next step in Oakland. Sims has a chance to stand out. If he can stay healthy and prove he can handle the rigors of being a full-time starter -- he was mostly a rotational player in Cincinnati -- Sims has a chance to be among Oakland’s better players. He is highly skilled, and he can be disruptive.

San Diego: guard Chad Rinehart. Scouts really like this signing. Yes, the Chargers’ offensive line still has question marks and yes, seeing Vasquez go to Denver hurts. But if he can stay healthy, Rinehart has a chance to step in at guard and provide a strong, stable presence. Many scouts thought he was one of the best bargain players available in free agency. He has a chance to develop into a strong starter. He played for new San Diego offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris in Buffalo. D'Alessandris pushed for Rinehart, and there is probably good reason he did so.

Raiders' QB wait marches on

March, 31, 2013
3/31/13
11:55
AM ET
As the Raiders wait for the Matt Flynn-Carson Palmer saga to unfold, a backup plan is now off the table.

Former Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb agreed to terms with Buffalo. He was reportedly being considered by Oakland if the Flynn trade doesn’t go through and Palmer doesn’t take a pay cut. The options are very few now if that scenario doesn't unfold.

Likely options would be bypassing massive defensive needs and taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 3 pick. The Raiders could perhaps pursue Cleveland’s Colt McCoy, although he's not considered a starter. Oakland could also commit to third-year player Terrelle Pryor as the starter, but it doesn’t seem like the team is quite ready to go that route.

Right now, the main possibilities are Flynn and Palmer. The Flynn trade could go through in the next couple of days if he and the Raiders come to a contractual accord.

The Arizona Republic is reporting the Cardinals are not willing to give up much in a trade for Palmer. He is expected to be cut if he doesn’t take a pay cut.

Meanwhile, Cleveland reportedly has small interest in Giants receiver/returner Domenik Hixon. The former Denver draft choice visited the Raiders a few days ago.
While the Oakland Raiders continue to work on their quarterback issues, they need to also figure out the cornerback position.

Oakland has two starting spots open at the position. Take Terence Newman off the list. He has agreed to return to Cincinnati. Newman visited Oakland early in free agency and took an extended time to decide where he was going to play. He tweeted that he turned down more money from Oakland to return to the Bengals.

The Raiders are still in the mix for Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. Porter visited this week and Jenkins, who is getting interest from Jacksonville and Buffalo, is set to soon visit Oakland.

Meanwhile, the quarterback wait continues in Oakland. The Raiders are in trade talks with Seattle about backup Matt Flynn. It’s been reported that if Oakland can figure out a contract with Flynn, the deal will happen. Current Oakland starter Carson Palmer could also agree to take a reduced contract to stay.

If both the Flynn and Palmer talks blow up -- there’s already talk that Arizona (starter) and San Francisco (backup) could make a play for Palmer if he is cut --- the Raiders reportedly might turn to former Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb. There is no timetable for this scenario to unfold. It could happen Saturday or extend into next week.

In other AFC West news:

CBS Sports reports the Denver Broncos are an option for veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield. He has other interest, and the veteran cornerback market is not a big priority for Denver right now.

Former Jets guard Matt Slauson signed with Chicago. He had been connected to Oakland because he played for new Oakland offensive line coach Tony Sparano last season.

Pass-rusher Dwight Freeney is being connected to Detroit. Denver has some interest, but Freeney’s price tag is currently too high. Denver might adjust its pass-rushing sights on the draft.
The Florida Times-Union reports the Jacksonville Jaguars will not be trading for Seattle quarterback Matt Flynn. The Jaguars were reportedly the most interested team in getting the Seattle backup quarterback.

Oakland and Buffalo are also reportedly interested. Flynn could come in play for the Raiders if Oakland cuts Carson Palmer.

Meanwhile, Tracy Porter’s visit went well in Oakland on Thursday. It may take a couple days before the Denver cornerback signs somewhere. New Orleans is also interested.

Blog note: I will be away from the blog Friday. Our blog editors will file news notes and I have an Eight in the Box feature planned. Stop by.
The Carson Palmer situation in Oakland is taking another turn.

Palmer
Apparently, the Oakland Raiders are still willing to pay Palmer a load of money. But he may not be interested in making a lot of money with the Raiders.

Thus, it seems if the Raiders don’t pay Palmer $13 million, he may be willing to take a lot less and even become a backup elsewhere rather than play on a team that may be among the NFL’s worst in 2013.

Yahoo! Sports reported that the Raiders simply want Palmer to take a pay cut from $13 million to $10 million. That seems fair for a 33-year-old quarterback who is on the decline.

There is little chance Palmer will be paid $10 million. There are some teams, perhaps Arizona and Buffalo, that would pay Palmer a solid rate to start, but it's likely not as much as Oakland is willing to pay. Teams would be interested in him as a backup, but at a much reduced rate.

If it is true that Palmer is reluctant to be paid well to play for a team that may not compete, Oakland should cut him right away. The Raiders need a quarterback who believes in them, no matter the challenge.

Again, we don’t know what is actually on Palmer’s mind. But I do think it may be getting clear that Oakland will have a new starting quarterback, whether it’s Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor or Geno Smith.

In other AFC West notes:

The Denver Post thinks Robert Ayers or a draft choice may be the Broncos’ choices to replace Elvis Dumervil instead of Dwight Freeney and John Abraham.

The Eagles are reportedly interested in former Kansas City right tackle Eric Winston. The Chargers are interested as well.

The NFL Network is reporting defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is getting a “ton” of interest. The Raiders cut him Wednesday.
Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer is highly unlikely to accept a big pay cut. Palmer is set to make more than $13 million with a salary cap number at more than $15 million.

If Palmer doesn’t budge, the Raiders would have to either cut him, trade him or keep him. Cutting Palmer would be the most likely of those scenarios. Tuesday night, CBS Sports is reporting Oakland is one of three teams to have interest in acquiring Matt Flynn from Seattle. He was in Green Bay with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie.

Flynn would give veteran competition to Terrelle Pryor should Palmer be moved. The report states that Jacksonville may be the favorite to get Flynn, but the Raiders and the Buffalo Bills are also interested.

The report states that Flynn would likely command a fourth- or fifth-round pick. The Raiders don’t have picks in the second and fifth rounds. They have a lot of needs and I know McKenzie wants to keep every pick he can get and he is open to trading the No. 3 pick to gain more choices.

But a veteran will be needed if Palmer is cut. Flynn is considered as a backup type. He did sign a nice deal with the Seahawks last year to compete for the starting job. But third-round pick Russell Wilson took the job and never looked back.

If Flynn does come to Oakland, Pryor will try to do the same thing. One veteran is off the table for Oakland. Former Oakland starter Jason Campbell -- the Raiders traded for Palmer in 2011 when Campbell was hurt -- signed with Cleveland on Tuesday night.

If the Raiders do trade for Flynn I’d think it would end talk that they could draft West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 3 pick. I’d doubt the Raiders would put so many resources into quarterbacks with so many other needs.

Meanwhile, CBS Sports also reports Oakland is expected to cut defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on Wednesday. That move has long been expected.

In another AFC West:

The Chiefs have continued to their look at potential choices with the No. 1 pick by working out Central Michigan left tackle Eric Fisher. The team is working out several top prospects.
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week's topic: Who should be the primary target (including trades) for each team when free agency begins?

Denver Broncos: Glover Quin, S, Texans: Sure, I could see the Broncos making a big splash at a high-profile position like receiver in the form of someone like Mike Wallace or Wes Welker. I wanted to focus on a position that may not get as much thought in Denver, but where the team is interested in getting better. The Broncos are interested in adding to the secondary. A player like Quin would be a great fit. The team likes Rahim Moore (despite his playoff gaffe against the Ravens) and they have high hopes for Quinton Carter. But Quin can come in and help these guys and provide an upgrade from Mike Adams. Getting a tough player in the back of a strong defense would only help Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs: Sean Smith, CB, Dolphins: The Chiefs are an interesting team. Despite being 2-14 in 2012, they don’t have a ton of screaming needs. Getting a quality cornerback to team with Brandon Flowers may be just the thing this defense needs. The Chiefs tried it with Stanford Routt last season (to replace top dollar Dallas free-agent signee Brandon Carr), but it didn’t work. Yes, the Chiefs could use the No. 1 pick on Alabama's Dee Milliner and I still think a trade for Darrelle Revis would be worth exploring. But adding a tall, athletic corner like Smith could be the ticket as well. He won’t be cheap, but he has skills and a Smith-Flowers pairing would be interesting.

Oakland Raiders: Cary Williams, CB, Ravens: The Raiders won't have a ton to spend and they have a lot of positions that need help. But I’m going with a cornerback, because I think it is the team’s greatest need. Really, name a legitimate starting in-house candidate in Oakland that is not an emergency option. Williams may be too sought-after for Oakland to afford. But he is a solid starter who has been through the wars. If the price is right, he’d fill a big need for Oakland. A more affordable option will be former Denver cornerback Tracy Porter. I think Oakland -- coach Dennis Allen was Porter’s position coach in New Orleans -- will be interested, but if Williams fell to Oakland, I think it would be worth considering.

San Diego Chargers: Andy Levitre, G, Bills: Levitre is one of the best guards in the league. He will be sought after in free agency. But if the price is not through the roof, I think the Chargers will be a player for his services. The Chargers’ primary task this offseason is to improve the offensive line. Levitre would be a great start. Levitre, who is from California, likely would be interested in signing and reuniting with former Buffalo offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, who was just hired by the Chargers. He has a zone-blocking scheme. San Diego coach Mike McCoy said the Chargers will run the scheme that best fits the players, and I'm sure D’Alessandris would like to reunite with Levitre to help introduce his system. The Chargers’ best offensive lineman, guard Louis Vasquez, is also free. In the best-case scenario, San Diego would be able to keep both players, but it’s difficult to put top resources into two guards, especially with the team needing a left tackle. But because Levitre has experience in D’Alessandris’ system, I could see him being a more valued target than Vasquez.
One of the Oakland Raiders’ most pressing issues in the coming days is to address the contract of quarterback Carson Palmer as they try to get under the salary cap.

Palmer
Oakland is trying to redo the contract of the 33-year-old quarterback who was acquired in 2011 for a 2012 first-round pick and a second-round pick this year. Palmer has a salary-cap number more than $13 million.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said at the combine that the Raiders plan on Palmer going into camp as the starter. But that contract has to be redone. Here’s the rub: What if Palmer doesn’t want to take a pay reduction?

There haven’t been any indications that Palmer will be difficult during these talks, but there’s always a change he can balk at the idea of taking a pay reduction. If he did that, Palmer and his agent would be banking on one of two things happening: Oakland relents and keeps his salary or Oakland is forced to cut him and Palmer would get a good contract elsewhere.

Teams such as Arizona, Buffalo and even Cleveland could be interested. Cosnider this: If Oakland is offering Palmer $4-5 million and he thinks he could get $6-7 million from the Cardinals to throw to Larry Fitzgerald, would Palmer take that chance?

In the end, Palmer holds the cards. If he doesn’t want to cooperate with Oakland’s demands he doesn’t have to.

If that is the case, the Raiders would receive $9-plus million in cap relief, but they would have another need on an already long list. That would mean Terrelle Pryor would get a long look and it wouldn’t do anything to stop the talk Oakland would take West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the No. 3 pick.

Again, we have no reason to think these talks will get off track, but any negotiation is a two-way street and that can cause complications.

Reviewing Monday's game film

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
11:50
AM ET
Here are some developments that occurred in the AFC West on Monday while I was away:

I found it mildly intriguing that the Chiefs signed receiver Mardy Gilyard. A good college player, Gilyard hasn’t done much in the NFL. But he was with Andy Reid in Philadelphia for part of the 2012 season. Reid sees something in Gilyard to give him another chance to make Kansas City’s roster.

Congratulations to Denver special-teams assistant coach Keith Burns for becoming the special-teams coach in Washington. Burns was a longtime favorite of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan as a player in Denver.

The Eagles re-did Michael Vick’s contract. There was some speculation he could reunite with Reid in Kansas City. Yet, I never got a real sense Reid was that interested in pursuing Vick if he had hit the open market. Now, if Nick Foles becomes available, I could see Reid showing interest. Right now, it seems Foles will go to camp with the Eagles to compete with Vick.

There has been speculation that Atlanta will cut running back Michael Turner. I’ve been asked a lot if I think Turner can come back to San Diego, where he was a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers could use a running back. Perhaps Turner, who turns 31 Wednesday, will fit. But he has been slipping some and he doesn’t have all that many more ties to the Chargers since the organization has turned over quite a bit since he left San Diego five years ago. A return may not be that natural.

Free-agent defensive end Chris Canty is reportedly visiting the Chiefs. Canty has experience as a 3-4 player and it could make sense if the Chiefs look at him as a rotational defensive end. Glenn Dorsey is a free agent and Tyson Jackson is a candidate to be cut. Canty is not a game-changer, but he can help in a specific role.

Buffalo released safety George Wilson and linebacker Nick Barnett. I can see both players getting interest from AFC West teams in the coming days.

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