AFC West: Lamont Jordan

The Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL want to help discarded former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell resurrect his career.

Omaha general manager Rick Mueller and player personnel director Ted Sundquist said Friday that they are pursuing the quarterback, who was cut by Oakland in May after three disastrous seasons. The team put Russell on its protective list almost immediately after he was cut by Oakland, Sundquist said. Omaha’s interest in Russell was initially reported by

“We are interested in JaMarcus Russell and we think it would be a good opportunity for him,” Mueller said.

Still, Omaha knows getting Russell to play in the UFL may be a long shot. The team realizes that he still prefers to try to latch on with an NFL team as a backup. Still, Omaha’s pitch to Russell has been that it can help him reach his goal of being a starting NFL quarterback quicker.

“JaMarcus needs to play,” said Sundquist, the former Denver general manager. "We’d give him that opportunity. We don’t want to make JaMarcus a five-time UFL All-Star. We want him to be a quality NFL quarterback. We think we can help him do that by playing in our league. If he was a No. 3 in the NFL, he’d get four reps a day. Here, he would be playing football and that’s what he needs to do.

“It’s no different than a Major League [Baseball] player who struggles. He goes down to Triple-A for a little while and gets a chance to get things together. That’s what we want for JaMarcus.”

Oakland cut Russell after he regressed badly in 2009. Russell was 7-18 as an NFL starter. Russell is currently working out in Arizona with hopes of shedding weight and getting a call from an NFL team this summer. Russell has talked to some NFL teams but there has been no significant interest.

Omaha has been very aggressive in trying to get former NFL players to sign with the team. The Nighthawks have already inked running back Ahman Green. Other players they are pursuing include Justin Fargas, LaMont Jordan, Shawn Andrews, Charles Grant and Cato June.
The Oakland Tribune has some interesting details of Randy Hanson’s role with the Raiders. The former assistant coach now breaks down film for Oakland and he can have no contact with his former world at the team’s facility.

Things got more awkward when Hanson filed a civil suit against coach Tom Cable and the team stemming from an alleged attack by Cable against Hanson last summer. Cable was cleared in a criminal investigation. The suit is not a surprise since Hanson’s attorneys previously hinted at a civil suit.

The Denver Post has a report on the first day of the Darrent Williams murder trial.

• It’s not a surprise Denver cut starting center Casey Wiegmann and backup running back LaMont Jordan. Wiegmann doesn’t fit Denver’s new power offensive blocking scheme and Jordan ran the ball just 25 times last season. Watch for Denver to try to find a new center though free agency. There isn’t a legitimate starting option on the current roster.

• Denver hired Brian Callahan as a coaching assistant. He is the final addition of the coaching staff. Callahan, 25, is the son of former Oakland head coach Bill Callahan.

Inactives from Denver

November, 26, 2009
Denver -- The following are the inactives for Thursday night’s game between the Giants and Broncos. There are few surprises:

Denver Broncos

New York Giants

Broncos: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Biggest surprise: Of all the AFC West cut lists, this was probably the tamest. But seeing linebacker Tim Crowder cut is a bit surprising since he was a second-round pick in 2007 and he showed promise as a rookie. He wasn’t good last season. Crowder was moved from defensive end this year. The top pick in 2007, Jarvis Moss, made the team despite being a big bust so far and despite him leaving camp earlier this year. It is also a mild surprise that running back Darius Walker was cut. He played well in the preseason. Denver kept veteran LaMont Jordan over Walker.

No brainer: Earlier in camp, some folks wondered if sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater would get replaced as the No. 3 quarterback. But the Fresno State product finished the preseason strong. New Denver coach Josh McDaniels likes Brandstater a lot and he clearly likes him more after Brandstater has flourished. With starter Kyle Orton (finger) and backup Chris Simms (ankle) both not sure things to be ready for the season opener Sept. 13 at Cincinnati, Brandstater may be forced into action. Denver thinks both Orton and Simms will be able to gut it out, but the rookie will be available if needed.

What’s next: The Broncos are far from a finished product. McDaniels has been aggressive in retooling the roster this summer. Veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday was signed Saturday. Watch for McDaniels to go back to the New England well if he sees something intriguing on the Patriots’ waiver wire. Denver could add help at receiver, offensive line and several spots on defense.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

While progress has been made, Tyson Jackson is not signed in Kansas City and neither is Denver's Knowshon Moreno. Still, the negotiations continue Friday in both cities and deals could be struck soon.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins is out for two weeks after breaking his hand, the Denver Post reports. Under this timetable, Dawkins will have plenty of time to heal before the season starts Sept. 13.

Are the Chiefs interested in Michael Vick? I don't see it. The Chiefs already have too many quarterbacks on the roster.

An update on the compensation Oakland will receive in the Derrick Burgess deal.

Denver kicker Matt Prater is struggling, but the team is not considering replacing him at this point.

Denver running back LaMont Jordan is being sued by a casino.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Is the ice thawing between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots?

Perhaps Thursday's trade that sent disgruntled defensive end Derrick Burgess to the Patriots for undisclosed draft considerations is a sign that the Raiders are feeling better about dealing with New England.

There was obvious tension from Oakland's side following the famous "Tuck Rule" playoff game in 2002 when a controversial call ignited a New England Super Bowl run and ended the season for a very good Oakland team. Then there was the Randy Moss trade from Oakland to New England in 2007 for a fourth-round pick. Moss, who was a disappointment in two seasons in Oakland, instantly regained his groove with the Patriots.

Last year, when the Raiders cut running back LaMont Jordan, sources close to the situation told me that his agent was asked by the Raiders not to sign with either the Broncos or the Patriots. Shortly after his release, Jordan signed with New England. Ironically, Jordan is now in Denver.

Does this trade -- which on the surface looks to be a good deal for the Raiders -- show that Oakland has no problem dealing the Patriots? You never know. Maybe the Raiders simply saw an opportunity to deal a problem player for decent compensation and took it, regardless of who the trading partner was.

AFC West mailbag

June, 6, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Weekend mail call:

Derron from Campbell River wants to know if Denver could trade for Brady Quinn this year if he loses the Cleveland quarterback battle to Derek Anderson.

BW: If so, I 'm not sure how effective Quinn would be in 2009, coming into a new system during the preseason. A quarterback needs an entire offseason to prepare, get to know the system and his new teammates and coaches. But if Quinn is the odd man out in Cleveland and neither Kyle Orton nor Chris Simms lights it up this season, perhaps a deal could be in place next year.

Michael from Iowa wants to know who is responsible for the Chiefs' transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.

BW: It's the Scott Pioli show in Kansas City. Pioli came from New England and the Patriots use a 3-4. Understandably, Pioli is going to build a team around a system he is most comfortable with it. Joining him in Kansas City is head coach Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. They were with Arizona last year where Pendergast used a form of the 3-4 at times. So, there is comfortably in the leadership with the scheme.

Mike from Los Angeles wants to know if Peyton Hillis will be lost in Denver's running back shuffle.

BW: He could with the team adding Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan this offseason. But Hillis is the type of player that makes coaches fall in love with him by his practice play. None of these jobs, other than Moreno's, are etched in stone. Hillis has time to show he can be a valuable player for Denver.

J from Seattle wants to know if Darren McFadden can put up LaDainian Tomlinson-like numbers now that he has former Tomlinson lead blocker Lorenzo Neal and some new offensive linemen.

BW: Tomlinson put up special numbers. I'm not sure McFadden is going to have the chance or if he is built to have that type of an impact. McFadden will likely be more of a situational player. Oakland has other backs and McFadden is not known as a pounder. So, I don't think Tomlinson-like numbers are in the future for McFadden.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

The Broncos' difficult offseason with running back J.J. Arrington came to a head Wednesday when the team released him.

Arrington, signed to be a third-down back in Denver, was released because he failed a physical. He had a knee injury he suffered with Arizona. He was recovering from the injury when Denver signed him earlier this offseason. Apparently, he was cut after he could not participate in a passing camp this week.

Arrington's time in Denver was ill fated. He was signed on the first day of free agency but the deal was voided by the league because of contractual issues. Arrington eventually signed a four year, $10 million deal with Denver. He received a $100,000 signing bonus and a $1.7 million roster bonus. He could conceivably sign back with Denver when his knee problem heals.

Denver certainly doesn't have a shortage of running backs. It drafted Knowshon Moreno with the No. 12 overall pick. New Denver coach Josh McDaniels has said Moreno has potential to be a three-down back. The team also signed veterans LaMont Jordan and Correll Buckhalter during free agency. The team also has holdovers Ryan Torain and Peyton Hillis

Posted by's Bill Williamson

ENGLEWOOD, Co. -- So much for all of those pressing defensive needs in Denver.

That's what the No. 18 pick is going to be.

In one of the early shockers of the draft, Denver took Georgia running Knowshon Moreno with the No. 12 pick. It wouldn't have been a huge shock if the Broncos took Moreno or Ohio State's Beanie Wells with the No. 18 if things fell into place.

But at No. 12?

With defensive players Brian Orakpo, Robert Ayers and Malcolm Jenkins all available, the Broncos turned to offense. The Broncos had the No. 2 overall offense last season and they were 29th on defense.

Moreno is the fourth running back added since Josh McDaniels took over in Denver. The Broncos signed veteran running backs Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan.

There is no doubt Moreno will become the featured back in Denver. It is also clear Denver will be a running offense in the post-Jay Cutler era. With quarterback Kyle Orton, acquired in the in the Cutler trade, the likely starter, Denver will try to pound the football and control the clock. That would both take pressure off of Orton and off of the rebuilding done.

Moreno is a good pick for Denver, but it was still unexpected that early in the draft.

AFC West mailbag

April, 25, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Pre-draft mailbag:

Steven from Tulsa: Bill, How does the Tony Gonzalez trade affect the Chiefs draft plan? Does this now open the door for them to take Crabtree with the #3 pick, or does it still depend on whether the Lions take Curry? Love the blog. thanks, Steven

BW: I think Crabtree could be in play now. I think the Chiefs are a little weary of taking a linebacker at No. 3 and let's face it, the Kansas City offense needs to make up for loss in the passing game. I could see Crabtree coming to Kansas City.

Anthony from Griffin, GA: What are the odds that Peyton Hillis wins the starting RB job for the Broncos?

BW: There is quite a logjam at running back in Denver after it signed veterans Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan as free agents this offseason. I wouldn't be surprised if Denver adds a running back early in the draft. I wouldn't be shocked if Chris "Beanie" Wells is taken at No. 18 in the right circumstances. Hillis, although I think he is a tough runner, may have his work cut out for him.

Luke from St. Louis: With the recent news of a failed drug test for Percy Harvin, do you see the raiders taking Andre Smith with the #7 pick and hoping Harvin falls to them in the 2nd round?

BW: I don't know if that will be the plan but I could see it working out. Harvin probably will be taken in the second round now. However, there will be an early run on receivers in the second round so he may be gone by the time Oakland selects at No. 40.

Nick from Denver: I saw that in the mock draft you had the Broncos taking Sanchez at 12. That would be a colossal mistake, even worse than the McDaniels-Cutler fiasco. The past few years they have had terrible defenses. The inability of the defense, couple with Shanahans inability to do anything beyond firing coordinators, ultimately led to his firing...If McDaniels thinks drafting Sanchez is the answer I can only hope that it leads to his firing as well. He is really no different than Shanahan, except he is less experienced and comes from the Belichick coaching tree which has proved to provide worthless head coaches (ie Weis, Mangini).

BW: First of all, Nick, I think the entire Cutler deal is a mistake and it is a waste bringing in a new quarterback. But I think the drafting of Sanchez would minimize the mistake that trading Cutler was.

Patriots' Way invades AFC West

April, 10, 2009
  Ron Chenoy/US PRESSWIRE; Denny Medley/US PRESSWIRE
  Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, left, and Chiefs GM Scott Pioli are tapping into their New England roots in their new positions.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

A fifth franchise has entered the mix in the AFC West. Welcome the New England Patriots to what was arguably the NFL's weakest division in 2008.

The Patriots are moving out West -- in theory, anyway.

The organization's influence was a huge theme in the massive change in the AFC West this offseason. It is most often referred to as the Patriots' Way. Get used to it. You'll hear it a lot if you follow this division.

While Oakland stayed in-house to fill its head coaching opening, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs looked outside to reconstruct their respective franchises. Both Denver owner Pat Bowlen and Kansas City owner Clark Hunt looked East for their blueprint.

After his shocking firing of head coach Mike Shanahan after a 14-season run, Bowlen hired New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as his coach. In Kansas City, Hunt ended a month-long general manager search by hiring Scott Pioli as general manager after nearly 20 years of the Carl Peterson era. Pioli, who was New England's top executive, had worked closely with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and was lauded for his acquisitions and approach as the head of the New England front office.

What is the Patriots' Way? It is a combination of spread-it-out football on offense and an aggressive 3-4 scheme on defense. It also extends off the field, where players are employees who must fit into a very tight, strict business plan. At the top of the food chain is a tight, inner circle that gives instructions and expects results, no questions asked.

"It's about making football important," new Chief and former New England linebacker Mike Vrabel explained to reporters in Kansas City shortly after arriving as one of the team's big-ticket pickups early in the offseason. "It's about being prepared, about being accountable and consistent. To be consistent, at least your teammates and coaches know what to expect every week and it's not something that's great one week and kind of [lousy] the next."

The brass of the San Diego Chargers, the only AFC West team to stand pat in its leadership structure this offseason, is prepared for the influx of the Patriots' Way.

"Obviously, the system that Denver is going to run will be very much like what New England did on offense," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "I think there's some of that influence anyway. [New Chiefs coach Todd] Haley's background is similar to the New England background. He comes from the [Bill] Parcells school, that whole deal."

Added San Diego general manager A.J. Smith: "I have long admired the New England way of doing things. They do things the right way on the field and in the business structure. The New England structure is being implemented in this division, and I believe both Denver and Kansas City will be better for it."

With both Pioli and McDaniels on their own, it is clear the two are sticking to their New England roots in the first stages of their new jobs. There's Patriots DNA all over these two franchises.
What do you expect?

(Read full post)

Posted by's Bill Williamson

With free agency mostly in the books and the draft approaching, we take a look at three reasons for optimism and three reasons for pessimism for each of the AFC West teams.

Denver Broncos

Three reasons to be optimistic

  • The safeties are better. Veteran free-agent signees Brian Dawkins and Renaldo Hill give instant improvement to one of the worst groups of safeties in the NFL last season.
  • Mike Nolan should help. The former San Francisco head coach should improve a defense that has been awful for the past two years. Nolan is changing the team's scheme to a 3-4 defense.
  • There are plenty of running backs. The Broncos signed veterans Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan. They all should play a role.

Three reasons to be pessimistic

  • The Jay Cutler trade. This is not a good situation for anyone and it certainly is not the ideal way for new coach Josh McDaniels to begin his NFL head-coaching career.
  • The Brandon Marshall situation may not be good. After another arrest on domestic violence charges, which were ultimately dropped, Marshall could be facing a league suspension.
  • The defensive line hasn't improved. The unit isn't very strong and significant improvements have yet to be made. If Denver's defense is going to improve, the defensive front needs to improve.

Kansas City Chiefs

Three reasons to be optimistic

  • The new leadership. New general manager Scott Pioli is respected around the league and new coach Todd Haley has gotten good reviews.
  • The Chiefs got their quarterback. Matt Cassel gives Kansas City a quarterback the team's leadership is comfortable with for the long term.
  • Receiving depth. The signing of veteran Bobby Engram gives the Chiefs a good option in the receiving game. Haley's offense revolves around his receivers, so this could be a good move.

Three reasons to be pessimistic

  • The Chiefs have done very little to improve their pass rush. Kansas City set an NFL record a year ago for fewest sacks in a season (10).
  • Despite having about $50 million in salary-cap room, the Chiefs haven't added many impact players beyond Cassel, Engram and linebacker Mike Vrabel. Most of Kansas City's additions have been lesser-name, system players.
  • There is uncertainty. It is still unknown if veterans Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters will return.

Oakland Raiders

Three reasons to be optimistic

  • The stars have returned. The Raiders have re-signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler to record contracts for their positions. Both were prospective free agents.
  • The team made offensive line additions, signing tackle Khalif Barnes and trading for center Samson Satele to improve one of the team's weakest areas.
  • The Raiders won their final two games under then-interim coach Tom Cable. The enthusiastic Cable has taken over on a permanent basis and has vowed to bring stability to the program.

Three reasons to be pessimistic

  • There haven't been many big additions to the team. Other than keeping their own players and signing the two offensive linemen, there hasn't been much change for Oakland.
  • There are still big receiver questions. The team will definitely need to draft a top receiving option.
  • The defensive line needs improvement. This problem area has yet to be addressed.

San Diego Chargers

Three reasons to be optimistic

  • They have the best roster in the division. Even though San Diego didn't make many moves, it still has top talent.
  • The running backs were kept. San Diego restructured the contract of Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson and franchised backup Darren Sproles. The two can be a deadly pair.
  • The Kevin Burnett signing. The usually free-agency shy Chargers did sign Burnett, an inside linebacker from Dallas. He is expected to help on third down.

Three reasons to be pessimistic

  • The team needs a defensive end. Igor Olshansky signed with Dallas as a free agent and the team could use a replacement.
  • A strong safety is needed. The team tried to sign Tampa Bay's Jermaine Phillips, but he re-signed with the Buccaneers. Safety will be an area of need in the draft.
  • The offensive line. The Chargers still may be an offensive lineman, right tackle or guard away from having a solid blocking crew.
Posted by's Bill Williamson

DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Denver Broncos don't sound like they are entering the NFL owners' meeting with the intention of trading unhappy quarterback Jay Cutler.

As teams gather and prepare to talk turkey with Denver, new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Cutler is "our quarterback."

McDaniels' reiteration likely will not sway teams from trying to trade for Cutler. The Denver Post reported last week that 10 teams were interested in Cutler. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Jets want Cutler.

More trade talk is expected. Still, the Broncos have not opened the trade doors yet. Sources say the Broncos want to talk to Cutler a third time to try to get on the same page before talking trade.

The biggest stumbling block for the Broncos in dealing Cutler is they don't have a quarterback to start if he is traded. If Denver can devise a plan to get a suitable starter in a trade or through the draft, and it thinks the Cutler problem is beyond repair, it may start listening.

But McDaniels' comments Monday shows, at least publicly, the team isn't there yet.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post is reporting the team may be interested in trading running backs Ryan Torain or Peyton Hillis. Both players were rookies last season and both were put on injured reserve. Denver has added three veteran running backs -- Correll Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington and LaMont Jordan -- this offseason. Hillis was very impressive when he played last season and he is versatile, so a trade involving him would be somewhat surprising.

Afternoon free-agency frenzy

March, 4, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

News is popping in the AFC West:

The Denver Post is reporting that the Broncos have resolved their contract issues with running back J.J. Arrington and have agreed to terms again. The team and Arrington had agreed to a deal on Friday but it fell apart on Saturday.

Denver now has three new running backs in Arrington, Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan. The addition of the veterans may mean it will be difficult for youngsters Ryan Torain and Peyton Hillis to get extensive playing time.

Expect Buckhalter, Arrington and Jordan all to play fairly extensive roles. Jordan may be the short-yardage back and Arrington the third-down back.

  • The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston matched the offer restricted free agent receiver David Anderson received from Denver last week. Anderson likely would have been a No. 5 receiver with Denver.
  • Former Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard is headed to San Francisco. The Chiefs had no plans of bringing back Huard, who was a starter at times the past few seasons.
  • Denver has kept defensive lineman Kenny Peterson. He may be the only in-house free agent new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels keeps. The team thinks Peterson will fit in Denver's new 3-4 defensive alignment.

Interestingly, Peterson is the only holdover who knows McDaniels. The two were actually high school teammates in Canton, Ohio. McDaniels was a senior and Peterson was a freshman.

AFC West news and notes

March, 4, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

The Denver Post reports the Broncos are shopping tight end Tony Scheffler because new Denver coach Josh McDaniels prefers three receiver, one tight end sets and Scheffler won't fit. Scheffler played with blocking tight end Daniel Graham in double tight end sets in Denver.

Scheffler is a fine down-field option and he could attract interest on the open market. This news may not make Jay Cutler any happier with the Broncos. Scheffler is one of his favorite targets and the two are close friends.

In the same article, the Post reports that Denver receiver Brandon Stokley restructured his contract to keep him in Denver. This is a good move. Stokley is a terrific third-down receiver and a leader in the locker room.

The Chargers are visiting with Dallas linebacker Kevin Burnett. He has already visited Oakland.

Former Denver long snapper Mike Leach will be visiting in Arizona and Seattle. Leach is considered one of the better snappers in the league but he was suddenly cut by Denver when the team signed New England long snapper Lonie Paxton.

This won't make the Raiders happy. When the Raiders agreed to cut running back LaMont Jordan last year, the team asked that Jordan not sign with two teams -- New England or Denver. Jordan signed with New England last summer. Wednesday, he agreed to terms with the Broncos.