AFC West: Marcus McNeill

Once upon a time, left tackle was a position of strength and stability for the San Diego Chargers.

That is no longer the case.

For the second straight season, the Chargers have seen their left tackle have his season end because of an injury. San Diego put Jared Gaither on the injured reserve Friday with a groin injury. Thus, undrafted rookie Mike Harris, who has played six games this season, remains the starter, which won’t help turnover-prone quarterback Philip Rivers, who has not been protected well much of this season.

Gaither, who signed lucrative four-year deal with the Chargers in the offseason, was hampered by back and groin injuries all season. He played just four games. He played well late last season after he was claimed off waivers from Kansas City. In San Diego, Gaither replaced Marcus McNeill, who suffered a career-ending neck injury last season. McNeill was considered a top left tackle early in his career, but health ruined a great career and put the Chargers in a tough spot.

They thought Gaither was the answer, but now they are back to Square One.

The massive 6-foot-9 Gaither is talented, but he has never been able to stay healthy. U-T San Diego reports tackle Kevin Haslam is expected to be promoted from the practice squad this weekend.

Meanwhile, receiver/returner Eddie Royal (hamstring) and linebacker Larry English (calf) are out Sunday against Baltimore. Starting guard Tyronne Green (hamstring) is doubtful, and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (knee) is questionable.

Health betrays Marcus McNeill

August, 9, 2012
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Sadly, we could see this coming.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that former San Diego left tackle Marcus McNeill is being forced to retire at the age of 29 because of a neck injury. The injury prematurely ended his 2011 season and it was the reason why the Chargers moved away from him in the offseason. The neck has never improved enough to allow McNeill to play again.

He was a talented player who appeared to be on his way to a long career, but in recent seasons his health betrayed him. McNeill is a smart, likeable guy. Best wishes to him and his family as he moves onto the next stage of his life.

In other AFC West notes:

Here is a look at Shannon Eastin. Thursday night, she will become the first woman ever to officiate an NFL game when the Chargers host the Packers. The NFL is using replacement officials because it is in a labor dispute with the permanent officials.

Denver football leader John Elway tells NFL.com what he thinks it will take new Denver quarterback Peyton Manning to be remembered as the greatest quarterback of all time.

Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli shares a strong bond with Arizona running back Ryan Williams.
Eric Winston is a Kansas City Chief.

Winston
Agreeing upon a contract with the former Houston right tackle is a big move by the Chiefs. Winston solidifies a real weak spot in Kansas City.

The Chiefs have added running back Peyton Hillis, tight end Kevin Boss, cornerback Stanford Routt and now Winston. This is arguably the biggest move.

Winston, who was a surprise salary-cap cut, was one of the better offensive linemen on the market. He replaces Barry Richardson, who was the weak link on the Chiefs’ line.

Winston is known as a strong run-blocker, so this will help an already-good running game. He had other trips planned, but the Chiefs kept him in town until a deal was finalized.

Former San Diego left tackle Marucs McNeill said Friday he will visit the Chiefs next week. It will be interesting to see if he still makes the trip. He could have been backup plan had Winston not signed there.

I doubt the Chiefs would replace left tackle Branden Albert with McNeill.

I think most of the Chiefs’ remaining moves in free agency may focus on depth. With Winston signed, expect the Chiefs to focus on either an inside linebacker or a defensive tackle with the No. 11 pick in the draft.
Marcus McNeill said he is planning to visit the Kansas City Chiefs. He was cut by the Chargers earlier in the week.

Marcus McNeill
McNeill
McNeill broke the news on his visit with the Detroit Lions. He is also scheduled to visit the Falcons and he said he won’t sign until he weighs all of his options. The news of the Kansas City visit begs some questions. The Chiefs are visiting with right tackle Eric Winston on Friday.

If Winston signs, the only way McNeill would join the Chiefs is if they want to replace Branden Albert at left tackle. I wouldn’t think they would want to replace Albert right now. If Winston doesn’t sign in Kansas City and McNeill does, McNeill would play left tackle and Albert could slide to right tackle. An Albert move to the right side has been discussed for a few years.

McNeill maintains he is now healthy following last season, which was cut short due to a neck injury last season. The Chargers cut him because he was owed a huge signing bonus. Interestingly, McNeill’s replacement is Jared Gaither, who was cut by the Chiefs during last season.

In other AFC West news:

NFL Network is reporting Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens is close to signing with the Jets. He was once a promising player for Oakland, but injuries derailed his Oakland career. UPDATE: Schilens is officially a Jet. He signed a one-year deal. He reunites with former Oakland position coach Sanjay Lal, who has the same job with the Jets.

ESPN’s Suzy Kolber reports the Cardinals are exercising a huge option for quarterback Kevin Kolb, so the Cardinals are out of the running for Peyton Manning. However, the 49ers have joined the race. For now, it appears the Manning chase is down to Denver, Tennessee and San Francisco.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports pass-rusher John Abraham is staying in Atlanta. Denver had been interested. Denver is also interested in Baltimore linebacker Jameel McClain, Tampa Bay linebacker Geno Hayes and Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant.

AFC West notes

March, 15, 2012
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In a news conference to introduce Robert Meachem, Chargers coach Norv Turner said the former New Orleans Saint is a No. 1 receiver and that’s the plan in San Diego. Meachem was signed to a four-year, $25.9 million deal on Tuesday night, hours after former San Diego No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson bolted for Tampa Bay on the strength of a five-year, $55.5 million deal.

Meachem was a rotational player in New Orleans, but he has 4.3 speed and he is strong in the vertical game which is a focus in San Diego with Norv Turner and quarterback Philip Rivers. If Meachem can stay healthy, he should make an impact. He is not Jackson, but he can help this team. It's clear Turner is expecting big things from Meachem.

Another cornerback is off the market when Richard Marshall signed with Miami. Opportunities for Oakland are getting fewer. The Raiders do have interest in St. Louis’ Ronald Bartell.

Former San Diego left tackle Marcus McNeill will visit the Lions on Thursday. He was cut because the team owed him a large roster bonus and there were concerns about his neck injury that ended his season prematurely in 2011.
Three weeks ago, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said that the team’s offensive line situation was keeping him up at night.

While there still could be some change on the unit charged with protecting star quarterback Philip Rivers, there will be some continuity. ESPN.com's John Clayton reports that left tackle Jared Gaither has agreed to a four-year extension with the Chargers.

He joins center Nick Hardwick who re-signed with the Chargers on Tuesday. Unless the Chargers make a change and draft someone like David DeCastro or delve into the deep guard free-agent class, key backup Tyronne Green is expected to replace the recently retired Kris Dielman.

Gaither was an injury replacement for Marcus McNeill last season. The Gaither re-signing means the Chargers will not look to bring back McNeill at a lesser price unless he is desperate and comes back as a backup when he is medically cleared to return from a neck injury.

Gaither is an interesting player. The massive 6-foot-9, 340-pound Gaither was a standout in Baltimore, but he missed all of the 2010 season with a back injury. Oakland tried to sign him last summer but it had injury concerns. He later signed with the Chiefs.

He was slow to get into the groove with the Chiefs and he was cut after making a critical mistake in a game. The Chargers, who were ravaged by injuries on the offensive line, claimed Gaither and he instantly became the player he was in Baltimore prior to his injury. San Diego is counting on him being that player moving forward.

It’s been a busy early free-agency period for San Diego. The team lost star receiver Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay and replaced him with New Orleans’ Robert Meachem. The team will also try to re-sign running back Mike Tolbert and defensive tackle Antonio Garay. Tolbert is visiting the rival Chiefs on Wednesday. San Diego will also want to add some more help in free agency, perhaps adding another receiver, and it wants a pass-rusher. But the offensive line issues are now solved and that was Smith’s biggest worry.
As expected, the Chargers are in the process of cutting left tackle Marcus McNeill.

UT-San Diego is reporting that McNeill’s agent has said McNeill will be cut Tuesday. The Chargers will have about $6 million in salary-cap room with the release.

McNeill is being cut because he has still not been medically cleared to resume playing. Because the Chargers owed him a bonus in the coming days, San Diego had no choice. McNeill spent last season on injured reserve with a neck issue. There is a chance McNeill could come back to San Diego with a lesser deal.

McNeill is the second starting offensive lineman in San Diego to leave this team in the past couple of weeks. Guard Kris Dielman retired because of health issues.

Center Nick Hardwick is a free agent, as is Jared Gaither, who replaced McNeill. The Chargers badly want to re-sign both players. If not, there will be dramatic change on the team’s offensive line. Nearly three weeks ago, at the NFL combine, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said it was the team’s biggest current issue and it remains the team’s biggest issue as we are closing in on the start of free agency.

In other AFC West news:

San Francisco signed former Denver cornerback Perrish Cox. He was recently found not guilty in a sexual assault case in Denver that could have resulted in him being in prison for the rest of his life. He was with the Broncos when he was arrested, but the Broncos later cut him.

My thoughts on the decision of Denver’s D.J. Williams and Ryan McBean to sue the NFL over their recent six-game suspension for using a banned substance: Why not? The players have nothing to lose, and the Ryan Braun situation in MLB shows it’s a worthwhile try for the players.

Former Denver receiver Brandon Stokley explains in a radio interview his involvement in Peyton Manning's trip to Denver last weekend.

AFC West notes

March, 13, 2012
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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
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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.
On the day the San Diego Chargers did not franchise receiver Vincent Jackson, they made another move by releasing defensive lineman Luis Castillo.

A first-round pick in 2005, Castillo broke his leg in the season opener last year and did not play the rest of the season. He made 79 starts for the team and he was a solid member of the defense for several years.

In a team release, general manager A.J. Smith indicated Castillo could perhaps be re-signed. But expect the Chargers and Castillo to both first look to move on.

The Chargers are probably not done cutting former high-profile players. Left tackle Marcus McNeill is expected to be cut this week. He is due a big roster bonus and like with Castillo, cutting him would provide some cap relief. McNeill ended last season on the injured reserve with a neck injury. He has not been cleared medically. The want to re-sign Jared Gaither, who was excellent as an injury replacement for McNeill.

In other AFC West news:

In an Insider piece, Insider
Adam Schefter looks at potential landing spots for receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency.

The Colts signed pass-rusher Robert Mathis to a long-term deal. That is not good news for the Chargers. He was going to be a target for San Diego.

In another Insider piece, Insider Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. thinks Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin could be a nice fit for Denver.

The Ravens cut cornerback Dominique Foxworth. He could be a fairly inexpensive option for Oakland if he can prove he can stay healthy.
The San Diego Union-Tribune – which reported Monday that San Diego Chargers guard Kris Dielman was expected to retire – now says Dielman will announce his retirement at a press conference Thursday.

Some thoughts on the decision:

Dielman
Great career: Dielman was an underrated player. He was big, nasty and tough, a reason the Chargers were considered perennial playoff contenders. He set the tone for the line and leaves the game as one of the NFL’s better guards.

Bigger focus on concussions: Concussions have become a lightning rod in the NFL recently. Dielman’s retirement at age 31, in the prime of his career, will be subject of further discussions on the topic. Dielman went on injured reserve after he suffered a concussion – which caused him to stagger on the field – on the road against the New York Jets last October. Dielman suffered a seizure on the flight home that night and had to be hospitalized.

Dielman is reportedly retiring because physicians warned him of potential long-term effects. Concussions are a very real issue in the NFL and this case is more proof that they can prematurely end careers.

What’s next for the Chargers? The Chargers’ offensive line is in flux. In addition to the hole at left guard, the Chargers face potential holes at center and at left tackle — in addition to big needs on defense. Center Nick Hardwick is a free agent. Hardwick wants to return and the Chargers want him back. The team wants to re-sign left tackle Jared Gaither, who excelled after replacing the injured Marcus McNeill. McNeill is expected to be cut in the next week.

The Chargers will have to replace Dielman in-house, in the draft or in free agency. The Chargers will likely look at Stanford guard David DeCastro with their 18th overall pick in April's draft. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks DeCastro is a special talent and could still be on the board when the Chargers select. If not, they could trade down to get another guard; they could also find one in free agency or insert a veteran backup such as Tyronne Green at the spot.

The good news for San Diego is Dielman’s retirement saves the team $5.5 million this season, so it will have more money to spend in free agency. Yet, the reality of seeing a leader and offensive-line anchor like Dielman leave early in his career because of a concussion has to sting.

Congratulations to Dielman on a terrific career and here’s hoping he enjoys retirement in good health.
It appears the San Diego Chargers will have another high-priority need this offseason.

UT San Diego is reporting standout guard Kris Dielman is expected to announce his retirement soon. The news is a bit surprising because there have been reports that Dielman was prepared to play in 2012 and he was leaning toward playing. Last Thursday, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith said he hoped Dielman would be back.

According to Monday’s report, Dielman has been advised by a physician to retire for his long-term health. His 2011 season was cut short by a concussion.

If Dielman does retire, it will put a strain on the Chargers, although the team will save $5.5 million that it can spend elsewhere. The Chargers have potential holes at center and at left tackle as well as big needs on defense. They wanted Dielman back.

If Dielman does not come back, I think the Chargers could be in the mix for Stanford guard David DeCastro. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks DeCastro is a special talent. He could be on the board when the Chargers pick at No. 18. If not, they could trade down to get another guard, find one in free agency or they could insert a veteran backup such as Tyronne Green at the spot.

Center Nick Hardwick is a free agent. Hardwick wants to return and the Chargers want him back. The team wants to re-sign left tackle Jared Gaither. He excelled after replacing the injured Marcus McNeill. He is expected to be cut in the next week.

Talking with Chargers GM A.J. Smith

February, 23, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS -- I had a chance to meet with San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith on Thursday.

In the big picture, Smith said his team must address its defense as it attempts another playoff run. However, Smith’s most pressing issue is the offensive line. Smith said the line “is the area that is causing [him] to lose sleep.”

However, Smith may rest easy soon enough. There may be more clarity on the group in the near future. Center Nick Hardwick is a free agent and has said he wants to return. Smith wants him back, but a deal has to be completed.

Guard Kris Dielman is coming off a concussion that ended his 2011 season prematurely. He has even considered retiring. But he is expected to play, even though a final decision hasn’t been made.

The team is expected to release left tackle Marcus McNeill, who is dealing with a possible career-ending neck injury. He is due a bonus early next month. Jared Gaither took over for McNeill last season and did well. The team hopes to re-sign him in free agency but, like Hardwick, there are no guarantees.

“We don’t know how it will play out on the line,” Smith said. “A lot of things can happen. There are things we want to happen, but that doesn’t mean they will happen. But we will know soon enough.”

What Smith wants to see is improvement on defense. Smith said he is excited about new defensive coordinator John Pagano, who was a longtime assistant coach in San Diego. The Chargers' defense sagged in its one year under former coordinator Greg Manusky, who was fired in January.

Smith said the key to improving the defense is becoming a better unit on third down. The team was last in the NFL in getting off the field on third down in 2011. “That is the first thing we have to figure out,” Smith said.

Smith said he is excited about several players, including young defensive linemen Corey Liuget, Vaughn Martin and Cam Thomas. The Chargers, who may cut Luis Castillo, will add to the line, and they are expecting big things from the unit under Pagano’s guidance.

Smith wouldn’t specifically address getting pass-rushers in free agency, but he did say the team needs more of them. If the Chargers do look at pass-rushers on the open market, the Colts’ Robert Mathis and the Lions’ Cliff Avril (if he isn’t given the franchise tag) could be intriguing options.

Smith said he wants to keep receiver Vincent Jackson but wouldn’t say whether he thinks Jackson will stay. I think the team’s best scenario is to let Jackson explore his options in free agency and then try to sign him. That was the tact the team used with safety Eric Weddle last year. Unless other events unfold unexpectedly, don’t expect the Chargers to give Jackson the franchise tag.

Smith said he was pleased to see quarterback Philip Rivers finish the season strong and that he's not concerned about Rivers experiencing early-season struggles again like he did last year.

“He was pressing” Smith said. “He knows it. That happens, but Philip is fine.”

Dean Spanos talks Chargers' needs

February, 15, 2012
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In an interview with the team’s website, San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos said he believes the offensive line is the team’s biggest area that needs to be addressed in the offseason.

“I think the offensive line would probably be my first concern right now,” Spanos told the site. “The left side of the line with and coming off major injuries, that would be my first concern. And secondly, I really think we need to go look at a potentially big-time pass-rusher/outside linebacker.”

Kris Dielman reportedly wants to return and the Chargers will surely want to keep him. Marcus McNeill will reportedly be released next month. Retaining his replacement, free agent Jared Gaither, may be a priority.

I found it interesting that Spanos mentioned the term “big-time” when talking about pass-rushers. That means he may recognize the team needs to go out and spend in free agency. “Big-time" players don’t come cheaply. Among the best pass-rushers potentially who may be available in free agency are be Mario Williams, Cliff Avril and Robert Mathis.

In other AFC West news:

Former Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt stayed a second day in Kansas City during his visit. It could be significant or it could just be part of the itinerary. Either way, it's clear Kansas City is considering signing Routt and letting Brandon Carr leave as a free agent.

Tampa Bay just cut defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. I do not see him being a priority signing for any team in the division. He has been on four teams in the past four seasons and he played on two teams last season. A lack of production on the field and off-field concerns make him an unattractive option.

Report: Hardwick won't retire

February, 14, 2012
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As expected, center Nick Hardwick will play in 2012.

Whether it will be with the San Diego Chargers is up to the team. Hardwick is a free agent and he raised questions about his future late in the season when he said he was considering retirement. Yet, Hardwick, 30, told UT San Diego that he will play in 2012. It would have been a major shock had Hardwick retired.

Hardwick told the paper he wants to stay in San Diego and I fully expect the Chargers to re-sign him.

It appears San Diego will have more continuity on the offensive line than it could have had. The paper reiterated that guard Kris Dielman is expected to play. There was a chance he could retire because of a serious concussion that ended his season early. The team is expected to cut left tackle Marcus McNeill and it could re-sign Jared Gaither or draft a tackle with the No. 18 pick.

In other AFC West news:

The Raiders have a connection to one of the bigger name free agents on the market. New Oakland defensive line coach Terrell Williams coached Detroit defensive lineman Cliff Avril at Purdue. Avril will be one of the best players on the market. Avril, who could be franchised in Detroit, could play linebacker in a 3-4 if the Raiders would be interested in that situation.

Still, other needs and a potential limited salary cap could make Avril a tough get in Oakland.

Former Oakland cornerback Stanford Routt met the media during his visit with Buffalo on Monday and declined to focus on his time with the Raiders. Oakland cut him on Monday. Routt will visit the Chiefs on Tuesday.

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