AFC West: Green Bay Packers

Charles WoodsonAP Photo/Matthew HintonDefensive back Charles Woodson is the Raiders' lone representative on ESPN.com's top-100 list.
Today, the Raider Nation rejoices.

One of its beloved players is getting due respect. For the first time since our 100 top offensive and defensive players in the NFL project began Monday, there is an Oakland representative.

To commemorate his return to Oakland, venerable safety Charles Woodson checks in as the 68th-best defensive player in the league. Yes, Oakland gets the love its rabid fan base so hungers. Congratulations.

Don’t get used to it.

Hate to play the spoiler role, but Woodson is the first and only player to appear on either list. He is the only Oakland defensive player on the list, and there will not be any offensive players from Oakland on the top-100 list. Oft-injured running back Darren McFadden had some momentum, but he did not make the list.

One Oakland player in the top 200? Here’s a little perspective: The Raiders’ Bay Area rival, San Francisco, has three defensive players in the top 11. All four of Seattle’s defensive backs made the top 100.

Is this Raider hating? I’d doubt that’s the case. ESPN enlisted 63 voters, including former players and reporters (I was one of the voters). We graded more than 500 NFL players and the results were tabulated. I can assure you there was nothing sinister at work.

Woodson stands alone because a large group collectively thought he was the only Raider who was deserving.

It’s no shock Oakland doesn’t have much representation on this list. These have been hard times for the Pride and Poise. Oakland hasn’t had a winning record since 2002, and it is tied for the second-longest current playoff drought in the NFL.

Oakland is considered to have one of the weakest, thinnest rosters in the NFL heading into the 2013 season. General manager Reggie McKenzie, in his second season as the replacement to the late Al Davis, is basically starting over. It hasn’t been easy for McKenzie.

He inherited a terrible salary-cap situation and a dearth of draft picks because of poor decisions made in the Davis era. The result is a bare-bones team. And, yes, a roster not worthy of getting much top-100 recognition.

“It is as bad as it looks in Oakland,” ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said.

Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. agrees. He was not shocked to see Oakland nearly get snubbed.

“I liken them to a Triple-A baseball team right now,” Horton said. “They lost so many players to free agency because of the cap restrictions and all they have replaced them with are bargain-basement free agents. It’s going to be rough there.”

Still, both Williamson and Horton believe McKenzie’s plan of starting over is the right thing to do, because he has no choice.

While the recent past has been bleak and the immediate future doesn’t show much promise, McKenzie’s plan could help infuse some more talent on the roster. The Raiders may have a surplus of $69 million in salary-cap room next year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean McKenzie will spend wildly and build an instant Pro Bowl roster. His front-office roots are in Green Bay, and he has said he will subscribe to the Packer way as he reconstructs Oakland’s roster. That means keeping his own players first. McKenzie has shown that philosophy this summer by locking up potential free agents kicker Sebastian Janikowski and long-snapper Jon Condo to long-term deals. Other players, such as injured left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston and fullback Marcel Reece, could also be candidates to be re-signed before they hit free agency.

While the program is clearly in tough shape, it would be inaccurate to portray this roster as talentless. There are about 1,900 players in the league, and some of the good ones do don Silver and Black.

There is promise. In addition to the above-mentioned players, Oakland building blocks include center Stefen Wisniewski, young receivers Rod Streater and Denarius Moore, safety Tyvon Branch, cornerback D.J. Hayden, offensive tackle Menelik Watson and linebacker Sio Moore.

The cupboard is not bare. But the truth is there are few established stars currently playing in Oakland. McKenzie knows it is his job to develop them.

“When I first got to Green Bay, there wasn’t a bunch of studs there,” McKenzie said. “Then we got Brett Favre and then we got Reggie White. And things started to look a little better. Right now, we have to turn some of these guys into studs and keep building. That’s the only way this thing is going to work.”

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.
Weekend mail call:

Evan from San Mateo, Calif., wants to know if I think the Raiders could target prized potential free-agent prize Giants’ receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Bill Williamson: The Raiders will have a lot of salary-cap room next year. But Reggie McKenzie will stick to his Green Bay roots and try to keep his own best players first. Now, if there is a surplus and none of the Raiders’ receivers take the next step this season, perhaps a big name like Nicks could be considered.

Doug Prater from Wichita, Kansas wants to know if I think the Chiefs could trade Tyler Bray this summer.

BW: Perhaps if there are not a lot of options at quarterback and some team is desperate. But I highly doubt it. think Bray is being developed to be a Chief.

Nate Peppers from Santa Barbara wants to know if I think the Chargers will give injured receiver Danario Alexander another chance next season.

BW: Alexander will be an unrestricted free agent next year. But, sadly, because of his history of serious injuries the 25-year-old, may not get a lot of interest despite his immense ability. I would think the Chargers would like to bring him back to give him one more chance. He fits well there and is well liked, so I can see the relationship continuing
Weekend mail call:

Jonathan Coleman from Smithville, Mo., wants to know if I think the Chiefs could trade left tackle Branden Albert to Green Bay because of the season-ending injury to Bryan Bulaga.

Bill Williamson: I think that ship has sailed. The Chiefs are happy with Albert and now that training camp is in full swing, the Chiefs are totally intent on keeping Albert, for this year, at least. Plus, rookie Eric Fisher is focused on playing right tackle. It would be counterproductive to move him with the season so close.

Hunter from San Diego wants to know what I think Philip Rivers' job security is like with the Chargers.

BW: I think we will have our answer after this season. The new brass wants to see him improve and it thinks he can. If Rivers, 31, has takes another step back, I think the Chargers will start to think about the future. I think he will be the quarterback in San Diego in 2014 regardless, but San Diego is not going to wait too long for Rivers to get it together.

Mike MacPherson from Ottawa, Canada, wants to know if I think Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor has improved this summer.

BW: Yes, Pryor has shown some improvement as a passer at times. But he also has some moments that frustrate the Oakland coaching staff. He remains a total work in progress as a quarterback.
NAPA, Calif. -- Charles Woodson is serving multiple roles in his second tenure with the Oakland Raiders.

Woodson
Woodson, who played in Oakland from 1998-2005, will start at safety and will probably play more with the Raiders than any other team that was interested in him. Some contenders (including Denver) looked at Woodson, who was cut by Green Bay earlier this offseason, as a role player.

Woodson, 36, ultimately chose to return to Oakland. The Raiders were offering more money than the other teams. Less than week into training camp, Oakland coach Dennis Allen is thrilled the Raiders secured Woodson.

‘He’s what we expected him to be,” Allen said. “He’s filling a lot of roles. He’s a special player and those types of guys bring a swagger to the field. We need that. He still runs around like he’s 30.”

Allen said he has been fortunate to work with superstar defensive backs in the past few years. He had Darren Sharper in New Orleans as the secondary coach. In 2011, he had Champ Bailey in Denver as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator. Now, he has Woodson.

"It’s fun to coach those special, type of guys,” Allen said.

Allen said Woodson is a living example to the young players in Oakland’s secondary.

“One of the reasons why Charles is here is to show the others guys how to work and what it takes,” Allen said. “That is one of his most important roles here.”
The Kansas City Chiefs have been connected to free-agent fullback Vonta Leach for as long as he’s been on the market. New Kansas City general manager John Dorsey was the scout who helped bring Leach to Green Bay as an undrafted free agent nine years ago. Yet, Kansas City is still an unlikely destination for the fullback.

Leach’s agent, Ralph Vitolo, told a Houston television station that five teams are in on Leach. He said Miami, Houston and the New York Giants are the leaders, while the Chiefs and Ravens are also in the mix.

I spoke with Vitolo to gauge the talks with the Chiefs. He said there haven’t been any recent talks, but there has been mutual interest. Still, the Chiefs are tight against the salary cap and they must sign No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher. Leach would be a luxury signing, so I think the odds are against the Chiefs signing him.

Vitolo said he hopes to find a new team for his client next week.

In other AFC West notes:

Oakland first-round pick D.J. Hayden wrote a blog for the team’s website on his impressions of this week’s rookie symposium in Ohio.

Meanwhile, a Kansas City personnel man gave the harsh truth to the rookies at the symposium. Considering the events in New England this week, hearing reality is exactly what the incoming players need.

The Chargers and the Broncos had success completing touchdown passes in the red zone in 2012.
Apparently, Jaws is not a big believer in the Raiders’ decision to trade for Matt Flynn. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has Flynn ranked No. 32 of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Flynn
Flynn
Flynn was slightly more highly regarded a year ago. Last June, Jaworski ranked Flynn No. 27.

He went from Green Bay to Seattle to be a starter. But he lost the job to rookie Russell Wilson in the preseason.

This spring, Oakland traded for Flynn after Carson Palmer balked at a pay cut. Palmer was traded to Arizona after the Raiders picked up Flynn.

Flynn is 28 and he has started just two NFL games. His arm strength has been questioned. I don’t expect Flynn to light the NFL on fire. I do think the Raiders can get by with him for the short term and since he wasn’t overly expensive, it’s not a terribly risky venture.

If Jaworski is right and Flynn plays like the No. 32 starting quarterback in the NFL, then we may soon see rookie Tyler Wilson or Terrelle Pryor get a chance to breathe life into Oakland’s offense.

In other AFC West notes:

San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o talked about what he is learning at the NFL Rookie Symposium in this video.

The Raiders waived linebacker Mario Kurn. He was on injured reserve all of last year.
Desmond Bishop will not be a Kansas City Chief. That is not crippling news for the Chiefs.

The fact that Bishop chose the Minnesota Vikings (on a one-year deal) over Kansas City is basically a no harm, no foul result in Kansas City. He visited the Chiefs late last week.

Kansas City’s interest in the former Packers inside linebacker made sense. New Kansas City general manager John Dorsey was in Green Bay with Bishop. One of the few spots where the Chiefs don’t have a reliable veteran starter is at an inside linebacker spot. So, Bishop was worth considering.

But the Chiefs should be fine. The team took Alabama’s Nico Johnson in the fourth round and he had a strong offseason. He is expected to beat out veteran Akeem Jordan. Johnson is a natural leader, who is instinctive and who has a chance to quickly become a productive NFL starter.

Again, the Chiefs had to consider Bishop, but the fact that he will not come to Kansas City is not a major blow, either.

Will Eric Fisher sign next?

June, 23, 2013
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The framework is set for Eric Fisher to officially become a Kansas City Chief.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall NFL draft pick. Fisher, a tackle from Central Michigan, was the No. 1 overall pick.

With Joeckel signed, the Chiefs and Fisher have nothing to wait for in the negotiations. Joeckel signed a four-year deal worth $21.2 million with a signing bonus of $13.799 million. There is no offset language and all the money is guaranteed.

With the rookie contracts slotted, Fisher and the Chiefs should be able to easily come to an accord soon. There are only five rookies who are unsigned in the AFC West.

Meanwhile, free-agent linebacker Desmond Bishop is reportedly going to choose between the Chiefs, Vikings and Giants. Bishop visited the Chiefs on Thursday. He also visited Minnesota since being cut by the Packers on Monday.

Here is some word that third-year quarterback Ricky Stanzi may have the edge to make the Chiefs' roster over undrafted free agent Tyler Bray. I think this competition will be played out in the preseason and if Stanzi wins the job, I could see the Chiefs trying to keep Bray on the practice squad. He is an interesting prospect.
USA Today reports that free-agent linebacker Desmond Bishop will likely choose between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings after visiting the Chiefs on Thursday. He was cut by Green Bay on Monday and visited Minnesota on Wednesday.

Perhaps the Chiefs will have an edge because Bishop knows new Kansas City general manager John Dorsey. He came from Green Bay earlier in the year. Bishop, who is coming off a major hamstring injury, would be a 3-4 starting inside linebacker if he joins the Chiefs. The Chiefs don’t have a ton of cap room, so they might have to do some juggling.

In other AFC West Notes:

ESPN.com has revealed its top 300 fantasy players for the 2013 season. The highest ranked player from the AFC West is Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles. He is ranked sixth. No other player from the division is ranked in the top 20.

Fair? Unfair? Hash it out below, fantasy diehards.
Monday on the blog, we asked whether Green Bay connections within the division could drum up interest in linebacker Desmond Bishop.

Tuesday, we received a quick answer. The NFL Network is reporting Bishop, who was cut by the Packers on Monday, will visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday and Thursday. He is visiting Minnesota on Tuesday.

Bishop
Bishop
Bishop was in Green Bay with new Kansas City general manager John Dorsey. Clearly, Dorsey thinks Bishop can help his team, which has been busy reloading all offseason. Many NFL observers think the Chiefs have had one of the very best offseasons in the NFL. Adding Bishop would only make it stronger.

He is the best linebacker available. He is coming off a major hamstring injury, but he is expected to be ready for the season.

Bishop, a 3-4 inside linebacker, is a strong fit for the Chiefs. One of the few question marks on Kansas City's defense is at inside linebacker.

The Chiefs think they have their answer in fourth-round pick Nico Johnson. He looked good this offseason. But you can’t blame the Chiefs if they would rather have an established player such as Bishop start instead of a fourth-round pick. If Bishop is signed, it doesn't affect Johnson’s long-term potential.

If Bishop goes elsewhere, Johnson will simply slide in and start.

Investigating a situation like this is what good front offices do. In a short time, Dorsey has shown he is running a strong front office.
FlynnKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsAfter losing his job to Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn could be challenged by another Wilson in Oakland.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Dennis Allen knows there is much intrigue about his quarterback situation.

Still, the Oakland Raiders coach is not in a hurry to see it play out.

“We haven’t really even had a full practice,” Allen said. “We have three-plus months 'til the season starts. All the guys have a lot to work to do. But we have time. I don’t have to make any decisions until we have a game; that’s a ways off. ... Overall, I like where we are as a group and I really have no worries about the quarterback position.”

Still, it will be a topic throughout the summer. It already has been an oft-written-about topic in the Bay Area.

Ever since the Raiders took Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson in the fourth round of the April draft, there has been chatter that presumed starter Matt Flynn is in danger of losing his job to a rookie named Wilson for the second straight year. Flynn, who turns 28 on June 20 but has started just two NFL games, was set to be the starter in Seattle last year. But he was beaten out by Russell Wilson, who turned out to be a dynamic rookie.

Oakland pursued Flynn in a deal with Seattle earlier in the offseason when Carson Palmer balked at a contract reduction (Palmer was traded to Arizona after Flynn was acquired). Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay with Flynn and liked his moxie and football intelligence.

The Raiders wanted to keep Palmer, but when that broke down, Flynn was the best option for a team in the beginning of a rebuilding stage. Oakland was fine with the idea of moving forward with Flynn because it didn’t give a lot to Seattle for him and he is reasonably priced at $6.5 million.

Yet the tone of the situation changed when Tyler Wilson came into the picture and reports were that he was performing well early in OTA sessions. Allen and McKenzie have been playing it close to the vest, saying there will be competition and making comments that Flynn is the “presumed starter.”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Tyler Wilson
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsRookie quarterback Tyler Wilson out of Arkansas has impressed the Raiders early on.
I get the sense the team expects Flynn to win the job in part because Wilson and Terrelle Pryor are green and not ready.

Everything is up for discussion, though. If Flynn is awful in the preseason and Wilson or Pryor is fantastic, a Seattle-like situation could happen. But it is unexpected.

The most likely situation is Flynn will be the Day 1 starter in an offense that will be centered around the run and short, precise passes. If the OTA sessions are any indication, the 2013 Raiders will not offer heavy reminders of the Al Davis vertical passing days.

If Flynn falters and the team falls out of the race, I could see Wilson getting a chance to play late in the season. I do sense that Wilson is much further along in the Raiders’ eyes than Pryor. The Raiders love Pryor’s work ethic, but they haven’t seen much improvement from the player who showed some promise while starting the season finale at San Diego in December. Pryor is still battling inconsistencies, and his throws often flutter.

Allen said this about Pryor this week: “He’s not there yet.”

The selection of Wilson put as much pressure on Pryor as it did on Flynn. Pryor was a 2011 third-round supplemental pick of Davis, who died later that year. The fact that the new regime took Wilson so early in Pryor’s career means they are looking for a better young quarterback.

While Wilson has been getting rave media reviews, Allen is cautious. He likes what he sees. But he knows Wilson is a rookie and he needs to get better. I think once Wilson improves on reading coverages and making faster in-play decisions, he will further gain the trust of the coaching staff. Those are typical, manageable steps for a rookie.

Wilson is known for having a strong arm and being tough. He’s the type of player coaching staffs fall in love with if he can refine his overall game. I spoke to Wilson this week, and it was quickly evident he belongs in an NFL uniform. He has the intangibles necessary to be successful.

“I feel like I’m in a great situation,” Wilson said. “I’m getting a lot of reps; that’s what’s important. I’m getting on the field. I’m part of it. It’s just about working every day to get better.”

That’s what Allen is hoping to see from his entire group. That includes fourth-stringer Matt McGloin. He was signed this spring as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen recently said on "NFL32" that McGloin has impressed the coaching staff and could move up the depth chart. McGloin hasn’t gotten much work in the OTAs that have been open to the media. Allen said he likes how McGloin has fit in. But, at this point, it appears a lot would have to go wrong in front of him for McGloin to get a chance to skyrocket up the depth chart.

For now, the focus is on Flynn. What the Raiders like most about Flynn is he has good natural-leadership abilities and a chip on his shoulder. He knows he has to prove himself. Receivers Rod Streater and Denarius Moore, the two top starting candidates, both praised Flynn’s ability to quickly get in sync with the group of receivers

“I just play the best I can and I want to lead this team,” Flynn said.

Added Allen: “Matt Flynn hasn’t showed me anything that I’m worried about. He’s doing fine.”

So while the Oakland quarterback situation will be often talked about leading up to the season opener, Flynn remains on target to be the starter. But like most positions in Oakland this year, it will have to be earned.
video
Back in the United States after a life-altering experience last fall, Husain Abdullah allowed himself to take a glimpse back at the world he temporarily gave up.

“I’d watch some NFL games on television last November,” Abdullah said. “I missed the game, but I was not upset or sad. I was at peace with what I did. I wouldn’t change it.”

A safety who worked his way from undrafted rookie to starter in Minnesota, Abdullah surprised many in NFL when he hit the pause button on his football career at the age of 27 to fulfill a spiritual and family commitment last year. He is back in the NFL after signing with the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

“It was totally worth it,” Abdullah said in a phone interview this week. “It was life changing, energizing and spiritual. ... Now I am back and I feel great about everything moving forward.”

Husain and his brother, former Denver and Arizona safety Hamza Abdullah, made news when they took the 2012 season off to make the Muslim hajj to Mecca in October (their story is chronicled above in an "Outside the Lines" video from last year). The brothers and their parents were gone for 3 1/2 weeks. The focal point of the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, which draws Muslims from around the world, is prayer.

For Abdullah, the experience was all about fulfilling a lifelong spiritual quest. The highlights? Simply being able to pray at the hajj pilgrimage. Asked what he most remembers, Abdullah said: “Seeing Muslims from France, Brazil, Pakistan, all over the world, everyone being together for the same reason. … It was all about asking for forgiveness and guidance.”

[+] EnlargeHusain Abdullah
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsHusain Abdullah is back on the football field this month, working out with Chiefs during organized team activities.
Abdullah, who always fasted during the sunlight during the holy time of Ramadan throughout his career, said he had long wanted to take the trip. Last year, he and his family figured since they had the means to do it, they shouldn’t delay the trip any longer. Even though it meant walking away from the NFL, the family decided it was time.

“I couldn’t just ask to leave during the season,” Abdullah explained. “I know I had to take the whole time off leading up to the experience. It was not really a tough decision, because it was something I always wanted to do. I felt the need to go.”

Abdullah admits it did cross his mind that if he left the league on his own, he was risking the chance of never returning. He resumed heavy football training when he returned from his pilgrimage in November and had hopes of joining a team late in the season.

“But teams figured that I missed OTAs and training camp, that I might not be ready,” Abdullah said. “I understood. So I had to wait. It crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get a chance. I was at peace with that. I was so grateful do to something I waited my whole life for.”

Now that he is back in the league, Abdullah is thrilled. He said he is enjoying the NFL experience greatly, even though it’s just the organized team activity season.

“It’s as fun as ever,” Abdullah said. “To get the opportunity to be back is really special. I’ve really enjoyed the entire experience.”

The Chiefs aren’t simply giving Abdullah a chance to put on an NFL helmet one last time before he is cut. The team is high on Abdullah. He was signed shortly after he had a workout in February.

The Washington State product was known as a quality player when he left the game. He started 15 games in 2010 and he started nine games in 2011 in Minnesota before getting injured.

New Kansas City general manager John Dorsey jumped at the chance to take a look at Abdullah. Dorsey was previously in Green Bay and had a strong knowledge of him. He was always impressed by Abdullah’s ability to work his way up the Minnesota roster. Dorsey said Abdullah has been a diligent worker this spring and he expects him to not just compete for a roster spot, but compete for a significant role on the team.

Dorsey looked at Abdullah’s pilgrimage as an impressive feat. He had no worries about Abdullah being away from the game for a season.

“The way he works, you can tell that this is important to him,” Dorsey said. “Anytime you get a chance to get a quality person, you should do it. He is one of the most refreshing guys I know. He is mature beyond his years. He has great self confidence. He is a wise, intelligent, deep guy. He is clearly spiritual and it’s neat thing to have a guy like Husain in our program.”

Abdullah said he plans to make the hajj pilgrimage often in the future. For now, though, he is back to concentrating on football in the fall.
The Charles Woodson AFC West race may be extending into next week.

Woodson
ESPN’s Josina Anderson is reporting that Woodson’s agent said the Oakland Raiders have invited Woodson to visit on Tuesday. He ended a visit to Denver on Wednesday. Agent Carl Poston had previously said the Raiders made an initial offer.

The Giants and Panthers have also been mentioned as possible destinations for the 36-year-old safety. He was cut by Green Bay this offseason.

The Broncos are said to still be interested. Some observers see Denver as the favorite because it could give him a chance to play a lot, a decent salary and a chance to stay with a contender.

Woodson played his first eight years in Oakland. He has a relationship with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie dating back to their Green Bay days. The Raiders have not been paying free agents much and they have been looking for youth. But they could be interested in having Woodson’s leadership.

Meanwhile, Dwight Freeney, the other big-name defensive player linked to the AFC West, ended his visit with the Chargers on Thursday.
An AFC West battle for Charles Woodson is brewing.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported on Tuesday that the future hall of famer is flying to Denver for a visit this week. Later, Anderson reported the Raiders sent Woodson an initial offer. Woodson spent his first eight years in the NFL in Oakland. He knows Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie from their Green Bay days.

The strong safety was cut by Green Bay in March and has received little interest. But it is heating up. Anderson reports Carolina is also involved.

If it comes down to Denver and Oakland, it will be interesting to see what happens. I think the playing time in both places would be about similar. Finances could be an issue, but I don’t see either team offering him too much. Oakland has been very cost-conscious, has been mostly giving out one-year deals, and most of those have been to younger players. I don’t see Oakland breaking the bank to get Woodson.

An advantage Denver might have is it is expected to be a Super Bowl contender, while Oakland isn’t. Oakland could have an advantage because of Woodson's familiarity with McKenzie and the franchise.

If Denver decides it wants to sign Woodson, it could try to finalize a deal during his visit to keep him from considering other offers.

In other AFC West notes:

The Chiefs cut 2012 fifth-round pick, safety DeQuan Menzie. He didn’t play last season. It’s not surprising. Late-round picks from a previous regime usually aren’t safe when the new regime comes in. The Chiefs concentrated on adding to the secondary this offseason.

This ESPN video looks at a possible free-agent fit for the division.

The Jets don’t believe Josh Cribbs is recovered from a knee injury. He has visited with four teams in the past week, including Oakland. It will be interesting to see of the Raiders feel the same way.

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