AFC West: Drayton Florence

Raiders' receivers still banged up

September, 3, 2012
With the season opener a week away, the Oakland Raiders are still without two of their top three receivers.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that starter Denarius Moore (hamstring) and No. 3 receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) were not practicing Monday. They’ve both been out for several weeks. Oakland coach Dennis Allen recently said he thought both players would return soon. Perhaps they will be back later the week. Oakland opens the season on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” on Sept. 10.

If Moore and Ford can’t play next week, Darrius Heyward-Bey would likely start with undrafted rookie Rod Streater. Starting center Stefen Wisniewski did return to practice Monday after missing several weeks. He should be able to play Monday. Wisniewski is making the transition from guard to center this season.

In other AFC West news:
  • Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson (ankle) did not practice Monday and cornerback Brandon Flowers (foot) was limited. The team still has hopes they can play Sunday against Atlanta.
  • Cornerback Drayton Florence, cut by the Broncos on Friday, has agreed to terms with Detroit. I thought San Diego could be interested in the former Charger. It has a need at the position and it was interested in Florence prior to his going in Denver earlier this year.
  • The Kansas City Star reported the Chiefs cut seventh-round pick Junior Hemingway from the practice squad and added offensive lineman Rich Ranglin.
Click here for the complete list of San Diego Chargers' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Chargers cut former starting fullback (and special-teams ace) Jacob Hester and fellow running back Edwin Baker, a seventh-round pick. The Chargers will go with the likes of Ronnie Brown, Le’Ron McClain, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley early in the season if starter Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) can’t play in the first couple of games. It was a no-brainer that the team kept kicker Nate Kaeding over Nick Novak. Kaeding, who was replaced by Novak after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 1 last year, was better than Novak in camp and in the preseason.

Onward and upward: The Chargers cut undrafted rookie quarterback Jarrett Lee. The team was high on him, but once again, the team is going with just two quarterbacks: starter Philip Rivers and backup Charlie Whitehurst. Lee is a likely candidate for the practice squad. I can see receiver Mike Willie being put on the practice squad as well. He has potential, but he lacked consistency. I could see Baker as a practice-squad candidate as well. I’d think Hester will get looks elsewhere because of his special-teams availability. Longtime defensive tackle Jacques Cesaire could potentially get looks as the season progresses; there is always a need around the league for a veteran big man. If the Chargers get in a bind, I could see them turning the popular Cesaire, who was a locker-room favorite.

What’s next: Because of injuries, expect the Chargers to look for help at cornerback, tackle, safety and perhaps receiver and running back. Because left tackle Jared Gaither and several cornerbacks are hurt, San Diego could be on the lookout for players who could actually be active in Week 1 at Oakland. One player I fully expect San Diego to target is cornerback Drayton Florence. He’d fit right in as a nickel. Denver cut Florence on Friday. He is a former Charger and San Diego tried to sign him before he went to Denver.

Denver Broncos cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
Click here for the complete list of Denver Broncos' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Broncos kept newly signed veterans, linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Jim Leonhard. They have both been dealing with injuries. Both should fill rotational roles as well as offer leadership. It is a bit surprising Denver cut veteran cornerback Drayton Florence. The Broncos beat several teams to sign Florence this year. In the end, the Broncos liked their young cornerbacks such as Chris Harris, Tony Carter and rookie Omar Bolden. Watch for San Diego to make a full-court press to sign Florence. The team tried to sign the former Charger before Denver signed him and it needs a cornerback.

Onward and upward: Two interesting players who were kept in Denver were running back Knowshon Moreno and tight end Julius Thomas. Moreno, a first-round pick in 2009, had a decent preseason after coming back from an ACL. There was speculation he could be traded. But Moreno will be given a chance to help Denver off the bench. Thomas, a fourth-round pick last year, was considered on the bubble. But the former college basketball player turned NFL player will get more time to develop. The Broncos will likely try to sign Ben Garland to the practice squad. The defensive tackle from Air Force has a lot of promise and the team loves his spirit. I could potentially see quarterback Adam Weber being put on the practice squad again. Denver likes him. He is not going to leapfrog backup Caleb Hanie or No. 3 quarterback, second-round pick Brock Osweiler, but Denver may want him to stick around.

What’s next: The Broncos will likely look for linebackers. They are young and thin there, especially on the outside with D.J. Williams facing, at least, a six-game NFL suspension. Denver will likely look for experienced veterans, who could, at least, log some situational time on defense. Denver did keep undrafted rookie Steven Johnson. He was a preseason star and he should help on special teams, so the need for more linebacker help is still necessary. I could see Denver being interested in defensive players regardless of the position if they are the right fit and I think it can look for help on the offensive line as well. Expect Denver to make, at least, a couple of moves in the next couple of days.

Broncos make their cuts

August, 31, 2012
The Denver Broncos became the first team in the AFC West to announce their 53-man roster. I will have an analysis of the cuts upcoming.

The list of Friday's transactions is here. Among the 19 players waived or released -- veteran cornerback Drayton Florence.

We continue to do our positional rankings with a deep secondary group:

1. Champ Bailey, Denver: The future Hall of Famer continues to play at a high level.

2. Eric Berry, Kansas City: I expect him to be a star after injuring his knee in Week 1 last year.

3. Eric Weddle, San Diego: Weddle is becoming a premier playmaker.

4. Brandon Flowers, Kansas City: One of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. An unheralded standout.

5. Tyvon Branch, Oakland: He is a tackle machine. The Raiders will do what it takes to keep him for the long run.

6. Stanford Routt, Kansas City: Now that he is a No. 2 cornerback again, expect his play to increase.

7. Tracy Porter, Denver: The Broncos think they got a steal in free agency.

8. Quentin Jammer, San Diego: The Chargers need a bounce-back season from Jammer.

9. Michael Huff, Oakland: He makes a lot of plays and he gives up a lot of plays.

10. Antoine Cason, San Diego: A solid No. 2 corner.

11. Kendrick Lewis, Kansas City: Many scouts think he has a real future.

12. Michael Adams, Denver: He should be a solid addition to a solid secondary.

13. Ronald Bartell, Oakland: The Raiders have to hope his neck issues are a thing of the past.

14. Atari Bigby, San Diego: The Chargers like what they see from this veteran so far.

15. Drayton Florence, Denver: He brings solid experience to the nickel position.

16. Shawntae Spencer, Oakland: Let’s see if he can fend off the youngsters for the starting gig.

17. Quinton Carter, Denver: I think the safety has a real future.

18. Javier Arenas, Kansas City: There’s a place in this terrific secondary for Arenas.

19. Chris Harris, Denver: The undrafted free-agent find in 2011 is a fine player.

20. Matt Giordano, Oakland: He’s limited, but he can make some plays in a pinch.

21. Mike Mitchell, Oakland: I would like to see this former second-round pick make more of an impact.

22. Brandon Taylor, San Diego: The Chargers may have something in this third-round pick.

23. Rahim Moore, Denver: He has to regain his confidence after a shaky rookie year.

24. Marcus Gilchrist, San Diego: He has potential, but he’s still learning.

25. Darrell Stuckey, San Diego: He will have to compete for playing time.

26. Chimdi Chekwa, Oakland: I think he could push Spencer for a starting spot.

27. Jalil Brown, Kansas City: He has some potential.

28. DeMarcus Van Dyke, Oakland: he has to show he is more than just fast.

29. DeQuan Menzie, Kansas City: Late-round pick knows how to play the game.
New Denver cornerback Drayton Florence said reuniting with former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio was one of the reasons why he signed with the Broncos on Thursday.

Del Rio is Denver’s new defensive coordinator. Florence played for Del Rio in Jacksonville in 2008.

“Yes, the familiarity always is good when you’ve played for somebody and you know how they work,” Florence said in a conference call with reporters. “The system, the language is going to be familiar. So it was a good fit.”

In other AFC West news:

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Chargers have signed two of their draft picks: tight end Ladarius Green, taken in the fourth round, and guard Johnnie Troutman, taken in the fifth. Troutman is expected to miss the entire season due to a pectoral injury he suffered prior to the draft. The Chargers have signed most of their draft class.

The Raiders will try out a few players this weekend at their minicamp. So far, no names of note are on the tryout docket.

The Chiefs announced additions to their personnel department. Jim Nagy was promoted from regional scout to national scout. Kansas City hired former Patriots national scout Kyle O’Brien as a regional scouts and scouting assistant Ryne Nutt was promoted to an area scout.

The Chiefs will announce plans for their 50th anniversary season in 2012 at a press conference next Tuesday.
The Denver Broncos have won their first AFC West battle of 2012.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Denver has signed cornerback Drayton Florence to a two-year deal. Florence, who has started 45 games in the past three seasons, was cut by Buffalo last week.

Florence was highly coveted after being released by the Bills. He visited Tennessee on Wednesday. San Diego, where he spent his first five NFL seasons, was also trying to sign Florence. Schefter reports Denver will pay Florence fairly well.

San Diego wanted Florence, 31, as a nickel cornerback, and that is likely the role he will have in Denver. He adds depth to a talented cornerback crew that includes starters Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter.

I could see some situations where Bailey plays nickel in some instances. He played some nickel last season. The Broncos also have Chris Harris, an undrafted player in 2011 who played well, and 2012 fourth-round pick Omar Bolden. He missed last season with a torn ACL, but the Arizona State product was considered a second-round talent before his injury.

Thus, Denver has a deep and talented cornerback group, and the Florence addition strengthens it. Last month, Denver tried to trade for Asante Samuel, but it couldn’t come to an accord with Samuel.
There is an AFC West battle for Drayton Florence.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the popular recently released cornerback will visit the Broncos this week. San Diego is also highly interested in Florence. He spent his first five NFL season in San Diego.

Florence was cut by Buffalo last week. Schefter also reports that Florence will visit Tennessee this week. Florence would likely be the nickel cornerback in both San Diego and in Denver.

The Broncos have been looking for a veteran cornerback to pair with starters Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter. Denver pursued trading for Asante Samuel before he was sent from Philadelphia to Atlanta last month.
While Ryan McBean's fight with the NFL is over, D.J. Williams is continuing his battle.

The Denver Post reported that McBean has agreed to drop his lawsuit against the league and his NFL suspension has been dropped from six games to three. Denver released McBean last month. He signed with the Ravens on Monday.

Both McBean and Williams were suspended for six games for using a banned substance earlier this offseason. Both players immediately decided to sue the league to get their suspensions overruled. The paper reports Williams is continuing on with his lawsuit.

It is not clear if Williams was offered to have his suspension reduced in exchange for dropping the lawsuit as McBean did.

Williams is one of Denver’s better defensive players.

In other AFC West news:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Tennessee is visiting with cornerback Drayton Florence on Wednesday. The Chargers are highly interested in Florence. He spent his first five NFL seasons in San Diego. The Chargers want him to be their nickel cornerback. He was cut by Buffalo last week.
  • Atlanta cut fullback Ovie Mughelli. Denver may be among the teams interested in adding a fullback.
  • The Raiders signed center Colin Miller. He was in Pittsburgh’s camp last season. He faces an uphill battle to make the Raiders’ roster.
It’s no surprise the San Diego Chargers released linebacker Travis LaBoy.

The Chargers selected South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram with the No. 18 pick in the draft last month and he will start at an outside linebacker spot. There just wasn’t room for LaBoy.

LaBoy was a favorite of former San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and was signed last year. Both were in San Francisco in 2010 but Manuskly was fired after the end of last season.

LaBoy started 14 games and had 38 tackles. He didn’t provide a consistent pass rush burst and finished with just one sack. Adding a pass-rusher was one of the Chargers’ biggest needs this offseason.

Meanwhile, the Chargers remain highly interested in cornerback Drayton Florence. He was cut by Buffalo last week. Florence spent his first five NFL seasons in San Diego and could be a nickel cornerback. A decision could be made this week.
The San Diego Chargers are reportedly interested in seeing a familiar face fill their nickel cornerback position.

U-T San Diego is reporting that the Chargers expressed interest in Drayton Florence on Friday, just after he was released by the Buffalo Bills. Florence was a second-round pick by San Diego in 2003 and he spent five seasons with the Chargers. The nine-year veteran was lost in the shuffle in Buffalo, but he started 45 games in the past three seasons.

If signed by the Chargers, Florence would provide them outstanding experience from the nickel spot. If he can’t find a starting job elsewhere, I’d think Florence would be interested in returning to San Diego.

AFC West notes

May, 4, 2012
Buffalo released cornerback Drayton Florence. He started 45 games in the past three seasons. It could be worth Oakland’s while to explore acquiring him. His experience would help at the Raiders’ biggest worry position.

Denver looked into trading for Asante Samuel, so perhaps it will be interested in Florence. Detroit could also be among the teams interested in Florence.

Can the NFL learn from the Junior Seau tragedy? U-T San Diego explores what can be done.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The good news for the San Diego Chargers is they received two compensatory picks Monday in the April 25-26 draft.

The bad news is the team didn't get as high of picks as it may have hoped. The Chargers received two fourth-round picks, the 133rd and 134th overall choices. The team lost running back Michael Turner and cornerback Drayton Florence through free agency last year. Comp picks are based on the previous year's loss in free agency.

Turner, who signed a six-year, $34.5 million deal from Atlanta last season, was a star for the Falcons. He had 1,699 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns for the Falcons. Florence was signed by Jacksonville and cut this offseason.

Many league observers thought the Chargers would get at least one third-round pick because of the losses. Only three third-round comp picks were awarded.

Meanwhile, Kansas City was given an extra pick as well. The Chiefs received an extra seventh-round pick, the 256th and final choice. The NFL always gives 32 comp picks but only 30 picks were earned. Thus, the league went to the top of the draft order and the Chiefs ended up with the last pick.

That means their pick will be forever known as Mr. Irrelevant, 2009. Mr. Irrelevant is awarded every year by a Newport Beach, Calif., group to the player who is the final pick of the NFL draft.

None of the comp picks can be traded.

AFC West news and notes

March, 3, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

With the Broncos trying to mend fences with starting quarterback Jay Cutler, the team is reportedly going to visit with Titans quarterback Chris Simms.

Simms would be brought in as Cutler's backup. The team is not going to re-sign Patrick Ramsey, who was Cutler's backup the past two years. New Denver coach Josh McDaniels must feel that Simms fits his system well.

The word out of San Diego is that the Chargers and the agents for LaDainian Tomlinson are still chugging away at a restructured contract that would keep Tomlinson in town but there is no timetable for a decision.

The Raiders re-signed guard Cooper Carlisle and tight end Tony Stewart. Re-signing Carlisle was big for Oakland. Many thought Carlisle was the team's best lineman last season and he was being courted by other teams. Oakland is looking at several other linemen as well, including Buffalo's Duke Preston.

The Kansas City Star reports receiver Bobby Engram has left his visit with the Chiefs without a contract and that the team is looking at linebacker Clark Haggans. The linebacker would be a nice addition for the team that needs a ton of defensive help.

Defensive tackle Grady Jackson is close to joining Detroit. Denver had an interest in him.

Buffalo has agreed to terms with cornerback Drayton Florence. San Diego was considering signing him.

Former Broncos running back Ron Dayne is looking for a job after mending from an injury last year.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Forget the talk about Antonio Cromartie being on his way out in San Diego.

San Diego general manager A.J. Smith told ESPN's John Clayton that the team is not interested in trading the cornerback. It was reported Monday that Cromartie could be on the market if the team signed cornerback Drayton Florence.

Smith said Cromartie will not be traded regardless of any move the team may or may not make. Cromartie had 10 interceptions in 2007 but his production slipped badly in 2008.

If the Chargers sign Florence, they will be stacked at cornerback. The team also has Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason and Cletis Gordon. Jammer had a solid season in 2008, Cason is a promising 2008 first-round pick and Gordon was just given a second-round tender as a restricted free agent. Add Cromartie and Florence to the mix and the Chargers could potentially have the deepest group of cornerbacks in the NFL.