AFC West: Jason Taylor
Defensive end Vernon Gholston: I think Gholston will be considered by most NFL teams. Yes, he’s been a colossal draft bust and you have to worry about a player who couldn't develop under the guidance of the Jets' great defensive tutoring. But he’ll be cheap and any player who is 24 and three years removed from being the No. 6 overall pick in the draft will get another chance. I wouldn’t be surprised if any team in the division looked at him. If I had to guess the team most apt to pursue Gholston, I’d say Oakland. Al Davis loves former first-round picks. Any team that would take a chance on Jarvis Moss should take a chance on Gholston.
Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins: We can probably rule out a reunion with former Carolina coach John Fox in Denver. The two were reportedly not on good terms when Jenkins was traded to the Jets. The Chiefs are interested in Shaun Rogers, so it’s conceivable to think they could look at Jenkins, too. I know the Chiefs want to add more than one defensive tackle. San Diego also could potentially take a look. Still, there are injury issues. I don’t think Jenkins would be a high-priority signing in either city.
Defensive end Jason Taylor: Taylor is expected to retire. Even if he does play, I don’t see a fit. He’s been available a couple of times in the recent past and there hasn’t been much interest from AFC West teams.
Tackle Damien Woody: He is 33 and has injury concerns. Woody, who previously was a center/guard, was in New England with Kansas City general manager Scott Poili. I could see potential interest there. Denver and Oakland could also use a right tackle. Woody is a good player if healthy. He is like Jenkins. There could be interest, but I don’t think it would come quickly.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill WilliamsonJared from Portland wants to know if the Chiefs could go after veterans Marvin Harrison or Derrick Brooks now that Jason Taylor is off the market.
BW: Taylor would have been a good fit in Kansas City and I think Harrison would be a nice fit as well. But I'm not sure if he would want to go to a team where they need to rebuild. Brooks may not fit because the Chiefs are set at linebacker.
Big J from Sacramento wants to know if the Chiefs will spend some of that 30 million in salary-cap room.
BW: There may be a guy or two coming, but the free-agent market is thin. There is not a ton of high-impact players out there.
Raphael from Paris, France, wants to know if the Chargers could look at Mike Brown, who was recently cut by Chicago.
BW: I wouldn't be shocked if there is a marriage sometime before camp. I'm not expecting it, but there are some connections here. Brown played for San Diego defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in Chicago and I know his name has been discussed in San Diego. But the Chargers may give sixth-round pick Kevin Ellison a chance to compete for a key role.
Joe from Los Angeles wants the Broncos to sign Graham Harrell, the former Texas Tech star.
BW: Harrell tried out at Cleveland's minicamp. He is still unsigned. I know the Broncos liked him before the draft, but Denver picked Fresno State's Tom Brandstater. So, it may be a little crowded in Denver's quarterbacks meeting room.
But it won't happen. Taylor is going to be a Miami Dolphin again.
I've written it before and I stand by it -- Kansas City should have gone after Taylor. The Chiefs set an NFL record for the fewest sacks in a season last year with 10. Yet, they've done little to help their pass rush this offseason.
Taylor, who will turn 35 in September, has been one of the most consistent pass-rushers in the league in recent years. Yes, he is getting older, but the new Chiefs regime hasn't been turned off by age. The Chiefs have brought in linebackers Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas this offseason. The fact that Taylor and Thomas are brothers-in-law would have been a bonus.
The Chiefs have about $30 million in salary-cap room. They could have given Taylor a big contract if they chose to. I understand that many people think Taylor is nearing the end, but he could have helped Kansas City for a couple of years.
Who else on the roster is going to give the Chiefs a stronger pass rush than Taylor? I don't know that answer. The Chiefs better figure it out, because Taylor is no longer an option.
James wouldn't make a huge impact. The Chiefs have Larry Johnson who is a durable, big veteran. Where would James fit in?
I know Johnson may be cut. But is James a better answer at this point? Johnson is a year younger than James and he was more effective last season than James was.
James wasn't satisfied in the offense of new Kansas City coach Todd Haley in Arizona last year. Why would that change now?
James can still play some. But so can Johnson. The Chiefs should stick with their current running back and they should try to add a veteran at a position where they need more help at.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
There are still some big names available this offseason, and the Kansas City Chiefs have both the need and the salary-cap room to accommodate them. Here is a look at the possibilities:
Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin: The Chiefs could use Boldin, who wants to be traded. Kansas City has an extra second-round draft pick next year and has the ability to give him a big, new contract. Boldin also played for new Kansas City coach Todd Haley while they were both in Arizona. Yes, the two had a blowup in the playoffs, but they could coexist again.
Arizona defensive lineman Darnell Dockett: Dockett would fit in with Kansas City and he could play end in the 3-4 defense. There also is a connection with Haley and new Kansas City defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who was Dockett's coordinator in Arizona. But the Cardinals are not expected to accommodate Dockett's request for a trade.
Free-agent linebacker Larry Foote: The former Pittsburgh linebacker has expressed an interest in playing for the Lions, and he reportedly will visit Detroit this week. While he would fit in Kansas City, it seems as if Foote is going to see if he can work out a deal first with the Lions.
Free-agent defensive end Jason Taylor: ESPN's John Clayton said Tuesday on SportsCenter that Taylor probably will end up either in New England or Miami. I still say Kansas City should pursue Taylor. He'd be a perfect fit for the Chiefs as he would give the team a much-needed pass-rushing presence. But it doesn't seem likely at this point.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The final stages of free agency are upon us and the draft is in the books. Still, each team in the AFC West has at least adequate (great in one case) salary-cap space.
Below is a rundown of AFC West team's cap situation. The cap numbers do not reflect the undrafted free-agent signings each team made this week, but the total shouldn't be affected too much by those signings.
Cap room: $12.5 million.
What's left to do: More than half of the team's cap space will go to its 10-player draft class. Denver may try to sign a defensive lineman or two before training camp.
Cap room: $31.6 million.
What's left to do: The Chiefs are swimming in cap room. It wouldn't be a surprise if Kansas City signs quarterback Matt Cassel to a lucrative contract extension to eat some room. The Chiefs still need a big-time pass-rusher. They have plenty of room to pursue defensive end Jason Taylor if they choose to.
Cap room: $8.2 million.
What's left to do: The Raiders will have room to pursue a veteran or two in addition to paying their draft class. Oakland could use another receiver and tackle for depth.
Cap room: $7.8 million.
What's left to do: The Chargers can add another player or two in addition to their draft class. The Chargers don't have many holes but if a player gets injured or a free agent intrigues them, the Chargers have some flexibility.
A Thomas-Taylor reunion (they starred together for years in Miami) would be perfect as the Chiefs move forward.
Yes, Taylor is older -- he will be 35 in September -- but it's clear new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli wants to sprinkle his young roster with veterans at key positions. Pioli came over from New England, where adding older players was the norm. So far this offseason, he has traded for linebacker Mike Vrabel and agreed to terms with Thomas. Taylor would give Kansas City's green defense a third savvy veteran for the short term.
Taylor wouldn't simply offer experience as the Chiefs transition to the 3-4 defensive scheme. He'd give Kansas City a much-needed asset: A pass-rusher.
The Chiefs set an NFL record in 2009 for the fewest sacks in a season with 10. Taylor may no longer be a dominant pass-rusher, but he still has a few years left.
Signing a player like Taylor could go a long way toward the Chiefs being relevant in 2009. Kansas City's offense is solid. The Chiefs' progress depends on its defense. Taylor, who has been linked to New England and Miami, is needed in Kansas City.
Now, let's see if his brother-in-law can talk him into it.
Last year, when Zach Thomas signed with Dallas, it was considered a huge coup for the Cowboys.
This year, the fact that Thomas has inked a deal with Kansas City on a quiet holiday weekend has not been met with much fanfare.
There is no denying that Thomas, who will turn 36 in September, is nearing the end of his career. The middle linebacker is no longer an elite player. But Kansas City shouldn't be criticized for adding Thomas, who signed a one-year contract for $2 million.
He will bring value to the Chiefs. Kansas City fans shouldn't expect a Pro Bowl season from Thomas, but they should expect him to make an impact. He started 14 games for Dallas and ended up with 94 tackles. That's solid work.
But that's Thomas. He will always give maximum effort, and because of that, he will get his share of tackles.
But new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli brought in Thomas for more than his on-field contributions. Thomas will pair with fellow veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel, who was acquired in a trade from New England in February, to give Kansas City, great leadership in the middle of the field. This is another indication of Kansas City doing things the Patriots' way.
Pioli, of course, came from New England earlier this year. The Patriots always loved older, savvy linebackers. The addition of Thomas to Kansas City is much like when the Patriots brought Junior Seau to New England.
It's about setting the tone and in the form of Thomas and Vrabel, the Chiefs now have great leadership on defense. This is vital since Kansas City is one the youngest teams in the league.
With Thomas now in the fold, perhaps the Chiefs will pursue his brother-in law, Jason Taylor. The defensive end is a free agent and he'd give Kansas City a much needed pass rushing presence. Taylor and Thomas starred together for years in Miami.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Yes, there is still nearly six months to go before the NFL regular season starts. But with the first phase of free agency in the books and several big moves made by AFC West teams, we are getting a good feel for what the rosters of each team will look like.
Every team in the division has made major moves of some kind. The following is an offseason grading of each team in the AFC West thus far. Things will change as teams make more moves and go through next month's draft. So the grading period is incomplete as a whole, but here is a check-point look:
Summary: The Broncos have been the busiest team in the NFL in free agency, signing a dozen players on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Denver's free-agency cache will help the team in many areas, but the news of the offseason thus far has been dominated by the Jay Cutler rift. The Broncos' biggest move of the offseason was a deal that didn't happen. Denver talked about trading Cutler Feb. 28 in a deal that would have brought Matt Cassel to Denver. The talks created a hole in the new relationship between Cutler and coach Josh McDaniels. No matter how many new players Denver has brought in, the story of the offseason is how a perfectly fine quarterback situation has become a clouded one.
Current Grade: D-
How it can get higher: Repair the rift with Cutler or trade him for a starting quality quarterback (Probably the only way that could happen is if the Broncos get a very high draft pick). Denver also needs a couple more impact defensive players, at linebacker and on the defensive line, which it could get in the draft.
How it could get lower: If the Cutler situation deteriorates even more and Denver ends up dumping him in a trade without a legitimate option at quarterback.
Summary: The Chiefs have been quieter in free agency than expected given their massive salary-cap room. The Chiefs have made the biggest noise in the form of a trade with new general manager Scott Pioli's former team, New England. The trade netted Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-round pick. Cassel is the answer at quarterback and Vrabel will help on field and in the locker room. Still, Kansas City has several needs on defense that have to be addressed. Also, the Chiefs will receive a bump in their grade if they can keep tight end Tony Gonzalez and guard Brian Waters.
Current Grade: B-
How it can get higher: If the Chiefs have a great draft and help themselves at linebacker (most notably Wake Forest's Aaron Curry with the No. 3 draft pick), defensive end, safety and on the offensive line. The Chiefs need to get some veterans in the second phase of free agency to fill some defensive needs.
How it could get lower: If the Chiefs fail to get at least two impact defensive players. The Chiefs, who set an NFL record with only 10 sacks last season, need to find a legitimate pass-rusher. This team should consider making a run at free agent Jason Taylor to provide a short-term answer.
Summary: The Raiders haven't done much in free agency and that has been a positive in Oakland. The Raiders followed up their disastrous 2008 free-agency foray (in which the team went on a wild spending spree on several players who were failures) by going in the opposite direction. Oakland deserves kudos for keeping in-house prospective free agents Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler. Yes, the team probably overpaid for both players but at least the Raiders know both Asomugha and Lechler will play well. The Raiders haven't done much else in free agency, and Oakland didn't get better because no one was added and it lost a player like Gibril Wilson. But it didn't make any mistakes and that's important.
Current Grade: B-
How it can get higher: If Oakland can find two new staring tackles (it wants one in free agency and one in the draft) and an impact wide receiver, perhaps Michael Crabtree at No. 7, it will have had a very nice offseason.
How it could get lower: If the Raiders don't significantly improve the offense at its problem areas (receiver and tackle), the offense will have the same problems it had last season.
Summary: The Chargers have been quiet in free agency but that was to be expected. San Diego is always quiet in free agency. The focus was keeping running back LaDainian Tomlinson on the team and the Chargers accomplished that goal. The move keeps the legend in town while saving the Chargers cap room and not taking salary away from Tomlinson this season. Now, watch for the Chargers to try to extend the contracts of quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates.
Current Grade: B-
How it can get higher: The Chargers need at least one impact player on defense. They need to score big with the No. 16 pick in the draft. Another linebacker, safety or defensive lineman who can step in right away also is needed.
How it could get lower: If the Chargers don't get much out of their draft class or don't re-sign some veterans to extensions.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
On a busy Monday night:
The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Chargers would consider trading cornerback Antonio Cromartie if they bring back Drayton Florence. The word around the league Monday night is that the Chargers would take a third-rounder for Cromartie, who had 10 interceptions in 2007 but whose production and cover ability suffered in 2008.
It makes sense. The team would then likely make Antoine Cason, the first-round pick from 2008, the starter. Even though he had a poor season in 2008, Cromartie would likely get interest around the league in trade talks.
New Kansas City coach Todd Haley said that new quarterback Matt Cassel won't be handed the starting job and that Tyler Thigpen, who ended last season as the starter, will compete for the job. That's all well and fine, but it would be a shock if Cassel wasn't the starter in Kansas City.
The Chiefs didn't acquire Cassel to be the backup but Haley's words are smart. It helps Thigpen stay hungry and it keeps Cassel on his toes.
The Miami Herald is reporting that the Dolphins are close to signing Raiders' center Jake Grove.
Former Oakland cornerback and NFL hall of famer Mike Haynes has cancer.
It is being reported that former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is still in the mix to be the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. If he doesn't take the job, it wouldn't be a surprise if Crennel reunites with Scott Pioli and Mike Vrabel in Kansas City. They were all in New England together.
Josh McDaniels has been collecting older defensive players so it wouldn't be a shock if the Broncos tried to pursue Jason Taylor, who was cut by Washington on Monday. Taylor would fit Denver's scheme as well. The Broncos are still considering bringing in defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Denver did sign San Francisco defensive tackle Ronald Fields on Monday. He will likely be a rotation player.
The Broncos and the agents for running back J.J. Arrington may try to fix the problems his contract and try to finalize the deal. Denver lost out on running back Derrick Ward, who agreed to terms with Tampa Bay on Monday. With Ward out of the picture, talks between Denver and Arrington could intensify.