AFC West: John Carlson

Will another salary-cap casualty in Oakland end up in Kansas City?

NFL Network's Jason La Canfora is reporting that tight end Kevin Boss will visit the Kansas City Chiefs. He was cut by the Oakland Raiders this week as the team purged big salaries given by the late Al Davis last year.

The first big Oakland cap casualty this year, Stanford Routt, signed with the Chiefs last month.

News of Boss; visit in Kansas City shows how important finding another tight end is for the Chiefs. They want to add another weapon to Tony Moeaki, who is expected to be back at full strength after missing all of last season with a torn ACL in his knee.

The Chiefs brought John Carlson to town Tuesday night. But he departed first thing Wednesday morning for Minnesota because the Vikings were offering him a big deal. He later signed with the Vikings.

A Moeaki-Boss combination could be strong for the varied Kansas City offense if both players can stay healthy. Boss was often banged up last season and he only had 28 catches for the Raiders. Yet when healthy he has shown he can be a receiving weapon.
Seattle tight end John Carlson decided to cut his trip to Kansas City short and head to Minnesota. He will likely sign with the Vikings on the trip.

The Chiefs were hoping to pair Carlson, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, with Tony Moeaki, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. The Chiefs are expected to host right tackle Eric Winston and running backs Mike Tolbert and Peyton Hillis on Wednesday.

In other AFC West news:

Tennessee owner Bud Adams told a local television station that the team will meet with quarterback Peyton Manning and he expects Manning to make a quick decision. The Broncos are one of the teams interested in Manning. The Broncos have been very quiet in free agency despite having $38 million in salary-cap room. It is clear the Broncos are waiting to see what Manning will do.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Chicago safety Brandon Meriweather was planning to visit Denver, but will now first visit Washington. The Broncos want a veteran safety.
The Oakland Raiders have been quiet in free agency so far Tuesday, other than seeing former starting quarterback Jason Campbell leave for Chicago.

This may be a reason: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports when free agency opened Tuesday the Raiders had a league low $639,966 of cap space.

Now, that will improve when the release of tight end Kevin Boss kicks in. Oakland could also cut linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle John Henderson. So, Oakland (which already cut three other players and restructured the contracts of several players) will get some enough cap room to sign a few players and sign their small draft class.

But the question for rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie is this: Why didn’t he do all of his salary-cap shaving prior to free agency starting. Players are signing at a fast rate. I know Oakland is going to bargain shop, but there is no reason why it should give other teams a head start for any player. The Raiders’ don’t have a starting quality cornerback on the roster and top cornerbacks like Cortland Finnegan and Carlos Rogers are already off the market.

In other AFC West news:
Let’s not go ahead and assume Peyton Hillis will be a Chief.

The Kansas City Chiefs have other interests. San Diego running back Mike Tolbert will visit the Chiefs on Wednesday. Several teams are interested in Tolbert.

The Chiefs (who are also visiting with Houston right tackle Eric Winston and Seattle tight end John Carlson) reportedly are visiting with Peyton Hillis. He could have an advantage in Kansas City over Tolbert because he played for new Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in Cleveland and excelled under Daboll in 2010.

However, Tolbert is no slouch. He is an outstanding power runner, who is also good as a blocker, receiver and on special teams. Both Hillis and Tolbert would be a bigger option to pair with the speedy Jamaal Charles.

Losing Tolbert would further weaken the Chargers. They want Tolbert back, but the fact that he is visiting Kansas City is a sign that he is more than willing to leave San Diego.

Losing Tolbert to a division rival would be a crushing blow, considering the Chargers just lost receiver Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay.
The Kansas City Chiefs might be ready to spend some big money in free agency. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Chiefs are one of three teams that have a visit set up with standout right tackle Eric Winston who was a surprise salary-cap dump in Houston

Schefter reports Miami and St. Louis are also looking to visit with Winston. He would be a terrific fit in Kansas City. He’d be a major upgrade over Barry Richardson, who was the weak link of Kansas City’s offensive line. Winston would solidify a unit that has been in flux the past few years. The University of Miami product started every game for the past five years in Houston.

Signing Winston would also likely allow the Chiefs to concentrate on signing either a defensive tackle or linebacker in the first round of the draft.

The Chiefs -- who have franchise receiver Dwayne Bowe and who have added cornerback Stanford Routt -- have a lot of salary cap room and should be able to sign Winston if they chose to. The Chiefs are entertaining Seattle tight end John Carlson on Tuesday.

In other AFC West news:
  • Oakland free agent Michael Bush bashed folks for reporting that he is visiting the Cardinals. Bush earlier tweeted that he was in Arizona, but said nothing about visiting the Cardinals.
  • Schefter is reporting that Denver free agent Eddie Royal does not yet have a deal done with the Redskins. It has been reported elsewhere that the deal is done. Yet, Schefter said both sides are working to finalize a deal. It makes sense. Royal performed well for Washington coach Mike Shanahan as a rookie in Denver in 2008.
  • The Raiders have officially announced they have cut tight end Kevin Boss. His release was first reported Monday. His agent tweeted earlier Tuesday he expected his client to be cut Wednesday.
  • Schefter reported that the Broncos were one of a few teams to opt to take the extra $1.6 million in salary cap room next year instead of this year. Most teams were given the extra cap room because cap money was taken away from the Redskins and the Cowboys because of cap infractions. The Raiders were one of two teams not to be rewarded extra cap room because of a lesser infraction. The Raiders didn’t face any more penalties.
  • Yet another veteran guard is available. Carolina cut Travelle Wharton. If the Chargers want a veteran to replace the recently retired Kris Dielman, they’ll have their choice. However, the team will likely put Tyronne Green at the spot.
  • Former Oakland starter Jason Campbell has agreed to a one-year deal with Chicago, according to Schefter. I will have more thoughts on this deal later Wednesday.
The Kansas City Chiefs are bringing in Seattle tight end John Carlson for a visit. The Chiefs are one of five teams interested in Carlson.

The Notre Dame product is a strong pass-catcher. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but Carlson, 6-foot-5, 251 pounds, has put up some good numbers when healthy.

He has 137 receptions for 1,519 yards and 12 touchdowns in three season. He would pair with Tony Moeaki, who was outstanding as a rookie in 2010, but he missed all of last season with a knee injury.

So, if the Chiefs sign Carlson, they will have two talented tight ends looking to rebound from injury.

AFC West notes

March, 13, 2012
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Denver has the third-most salary-cap room entering free agency with $38 million. That will clearly help the Broncos’ push for Peyton Manning. U-T San Diego reports the Chargers will have about $20 million in cap room when they release tackle Marcus McNeill this week.

On "SportsCenter,” Marcellus Wiley said the best fit for Houston pass-rusher Mario Williams is the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers plan to be in on Williams, but the question is will they be able to afford him. Also, Wiley thinks the best fit for Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson is Chicago.

Buffalo has been named often as a likely strong pursuer of Jackson. However, indications are they will make a strong initial push for another receiver. It doesn’t mean Jackson won’t be added to the Bills, but they have their eyes on other receivers as well.

A cornerback is off the market as the Giants have re-signed Terrell Thomas. He could have been of interest to the Raiders.

Among the names the Kansas City Chiefs could look at are Seattle tight end John Carlson and New Orleans receiver Robert Meachem.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 7, 2012
AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET

Denver Broncos

Key free agents: K Matt Prater (franchised), DT Brodrick Bunkley, S Brian Dawkins, TE Daniel Fells, FB Spencer Larsen, WR Eddie Royal, QB Brady Quinn, DT Marcus Thomas, LB Wesley Woodyard, P Britton Colquitt (restricted).

Where they stand: The Broncos will have plenty of salary-cap room. For a team that went from 4-12 with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to winning the AFC West and a playoff game in John Fox’s first season as coach, the Broncos are in position to improve through free agency. With Prater franchised, the team’s only priority unrestricted free agent is Bunkley.

What to expect: Don’t expect a huge spending spree. The Broncos are cash conscious and I think the franchise is still recovering from some undisciplined spending during the Mike Shanahan era that ended in 2008. We will see the Broncos try to add several pieces at lower prices. Denver could address needs at safety, running back, receiver, tight end, linebacker and quarterback. Keep an eye on players such as Washington safety LaRon Landry, Seattle tight end John Carlson, quarterbacks Chad Henne (Miami), Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh) or Josh Johnson (Tampa), running backs Michael Bush (Oakland) and Mike Tolbert (San Diego), and defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene Cincinnati.

Kansas City Chiefs

Key free agents: WR Dwayne Bowe (franchised), CB Brandon Carr, QB Kyle Orton, RB Jackie Battle, LB Jovan Belcher, S Jon McGraw, C Casey Wiegmann, RB Thomas Jones, DE Wallace Gilberry, DT Kelly Gregg

Where they stand: The Chiefs are in great shape on cap space even after signing cornerback Stanford Routt and franchising Bowe. They have already done a nice job in free agency with these two moves and have a good, young roster. Kansas City can become a serious playoff contender with the right moves. It is likely Carr will leave in free agency, but the Chiefs should be able to re-sign most of their other free agents if they wish.

What to expect: I’m not sure we will see the Chiefs break the bank for any of the super-hot free agents, but I expect them to do some significant shopping. I think we could see Kansas City look for help at nose tackle, linebacker, safety, tackle, running back and quarterback. Of course, the intrigue could start if the team gets in on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. But they could also look at several other quarterbacks, including Orton, Henne, Jason Campbell (Oakland) or even Quinn. They could also be in the mix for Miami nose tackle Paul Soliai, Saints guard Carl Nicks and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England), Bush and Tolbert.

Oakland Raiders

Key free agents: S Tyvon Branch (franchised), RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, LB Quentin Groves, C Samson Satele, WR Chaz Schilens, DE Trevor Scott, FB Marcel Reece (restricted).

Where they stand: The Raiders are one of the few teams that must get under the salary cap. Oakland coach Dennis Allen recently acknowledged the team has work to do. The Raiders have some contracts that can be easily restructured, but they also may have to cut some players, particularly on defense. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle John Henderson are among the top candidates.

What to expect: The Raiders likely face some limitations once they get under the cap, but they can add two or three starting-quality players under the right circumstances. Their primary needs are on defense, starting at cornerback and linebacker. The offensive line could be upgraded as well. I think they can be in on the second wave of cornerbacks. A player to watch is New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter, who previously played for Allen. There are some solid second-tier cornerbacks Oakland could be interested in other than Porter. There will be some good players available on both sides of the ball after the initial wave of free agency for short-term deals. Expect the Raiders to do some bargain picking during that time. I think Oakland will be interested in signing several of its free agents, but I expect Bush and Campbell will leave.

San Diego Chargers

Key free agents: WR Vincent Jackson, C Nick Hardwick, RB Tolbert, DT Antonio Garay, OT Jared Gaither, FB Jacob Hester.

Where they stand: The Chargers will be in decent shape and they are getting even better after cutting Luis Castillo, the retirement of guard Kris Dielman and the expected release of tackle Marcus McNeill. But San Diego still has a lot of work to do. They have the most priority free agents of any team in the division. Signing Jackson, Hardwick, Gaither, Tolbert and Garay will be a challenge.

What to expect: The Chargers will likely stick to their usual plan and concentrate first on their own free agents. But they also have other needs and they will likely spend more in free agency than they have done before under general manager A.J. Smith. I get the sense from some agents that the Chargers may spend wildy in an attempt to win back the fan base’s trust after the unpopular contract extensions for Smith and coach Norv Turner. The pair were brought back even after missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season. I also get the sense from inside the organization, however, that the Chargers will not act out of desperation. Look for the team to consider pass-rushers, nose tackles, safeties and offensive linemen if Hardwick and Gaither aren’t brought back. A receiver will also become a major need if Jackson goes. The Colts' Reggie Wayne could be an option in that case. A running back such as Cadillac Williams (St. Louis) reportedly will be in the mix if Tolbert walks. Soliai could interest the team as well. Chicago special teams ace Corey Graham may also be a target. If the Chargers want to make a huge splash, they could try to get in on Houston pass-rusher Mario Williams, who is widely considered the best player on the market.