AFC West: Mitch Berger

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
5:00
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Denver

Potential unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd

Potential restricted free agents: LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler, DT Le Kevin Smith

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Broncos’ restricted class is talented. That will be the focus. It has been reported that Marshall, Orton, Dumervil, Scheffler and Kuper will all get one-year tenders. Marshall very well could be traded. It wouldn’t be a shock if Dumervil gets some action on the restricted market. Miami could be interested.

Kansas City

Potential unrestricted free agents: OL Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jackie Battle, QB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, OL Ikechuku Ndukwe, OL Rudy Niswanger, OL Ryan O'Callaghan, S Jarrad Page

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Chiefs are interested in keeping some of their unrestricted free agents. General manager Scott Pioli said at the combine the team has been in contact with several of their free agents. Chambers is the focus. The team is trying to keep him. Brown and Vrabel could also return with new deals.

Oakland

Potential unrestricted free agents: S Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Potential restricted free agents: LB Jon Alston, OL Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, LB Jon Condo, QB Charlie Frye, QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Thomas Howard, RB Luke Lawton, OL Chris Morris, LB Kirk Morrison, CB Stanford Routt, RB Gary Russell

Franchise player: DE Richard Seymour.

What to expect: The Raiders franchised Seymour and signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a record deal, so they’ve already been busy. It will be interesting to see how they tender Howard and Morrison. The Raiders could use some new life at linebacker and this could be the start of it.

San Diego

Potential unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Potential restricted free agents: OL Jeromey Clary, LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Travis Johnson, OL Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles, QB Charlie Whitehurst

Franchise player: None

What to expect: The Chargers have their hands full. It’s been reported they will give high tenders to Jackson, Merriman, McNeill and Floyd. Jackson and McNeill could still attract some interest on the restricted market. Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him a free agent. The Chargers want him back. But if Sproles hits the open market, the multifaceted weapon could be scooped up quickly.

Free agency: AFC West

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
1:00
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AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC West.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

[+] EnlargeChris Chambers
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelKansas City wide receiver Chris Chambers had 608 yards on 36 receptions after being acquired off waivers in November.
Denver Broncos

Unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd.

Key figures: There isn’t much here. The team could bring back Hochstein, Holliday and Law, but they are all complementary pieces. It’s all about the restricted free-agent class in Denver. The Broncos have to figure out what they are going to do with receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Elvis Dumervil, quarterback Kyle Orton and tight end Tony Scheffler.

Kansas City Chiefs

Unrestricted free agents: S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade,

Key figures: Chambers will be Kansas City's priority. He gave the Chiefs’ offense a big spark after he was claimed off waivers in November. The team’s brass really likes what Brown and Vrabel bring to the team and both could be back in Kansas City at the right price. Wade also could be brought back.

Oakland Raiders

Unrestricted free agents: Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, K Sebastian Janikowski, DE Richard Seymour, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Key figures: It’s all about Seymour and Janikowski. The Raiders are trying to get long-term deals with both players done. If new deals aren’t struck, watch for Oakland to put the franchise and transition tags on them. Oakland will do anything it can not to lose either player.

San Diego Chargers

Unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Key figures: The team would like to bring back Osgood, one of the best special-teams players in the NFL. But Osgood wants a chance to be a receiver and the opportunity might not be in San Diego. The Chargers will spend most of their energy on their restricted class. The priorities are receiver Vincent Jackson, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman, running back Darren Sproles and receiver Malcom Floyd.

AFC West adds another Colquitt

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
1:15
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The Denver Broncos now have two punters on their roster to close out the season.

Denver signed rookie Britton Colquitt off of Miami’s practice squad. Colquitt, whose brother Dustin in an outstanding punter for Kansas City, was with Denver during camp.

Denver also has veteran punter Mitch Berger on the roster. Berger has signed heading into Denver’s seventh game and he has struggled often. The Broncos cut punter Brett Kern when they were 6-0. Denver is now 8-7.

It wouldn’t be a shock if Colquitt was given the opportunity to punt against his brother Sunday as Denver tries to keep its playoff hopes alive against the Chiefs.

Halftime notes from Denver

November, 26, 2009
11/26/09
9:53
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DENVER -- Notes from halftime where Denver leads the Giants, 16-0.

  • Denver quarterback Kyle Orton looks very good. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 159 yards in the first half.
  • Denver is playing very aggressively. It went for it on fourth-and-5 from New York’s 29. On the play, Orton hit tight end Tony Scheffler for a 22-yard catch to the 7.
  • Denver running Knowshon Moreno has 40 yards on nine carries. He is running with great purpose.
  • Denver receiver Jabar Gaffney made great catch in the first quarter for 28 yards, but he dropped a pass for what would have been a big pass play early in the second quarter.
  • Denver star cornerback Champ Bailey is working on kick coverage and the punt return unit.
  • Denver safety Brian Dawkins started despite having a neck injury. He had a very good first half. He made several hard hits.
  • New Denver punter Mitch Berger continued to improve. He is in his fifth game with Denver.
  • Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil got his 13th sack of the season. He leads the NFL in sacks. It is a career high for the four-year veteran.
  • Denver receiver Eddie Royal is out with a thigh injury. He is questionable to return.
  • Denver receiver Brandon Marshall had a great, I mean, great leaping, one-handed catch at the Giants’ 10 in the second quarter. After the play, Marshall ran over to Denver coach Josh McDaniels and celebrated with him before running back to the huddle.
  • The NFL Network apologized for an expletive McDaniels said on the air Thursday night. He was wearing a microphone.
I’ve been thinking about this little fact for a few days. After a reader pointed it out to me, I thought I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

Perhaps the reason for the Broncos’ sudden turn for the worse is the Curse of Kern.

After Denver beat San Diego to go into its bye week with a 6-0 record, the team cut punter Brett Kern and signed veteran Mitch Berger off the street. Kern wasn’t doing great, but the second-year punter wasn’t a disaster, either.

Yet, the Broncos felt compelled to make the move. Interestingly, it was the first roster move Denver made of the season. What happened to the “if it's not broken, don’t fix it’ mantra?

Kern was claimed off waivers by Tennessee the next day. The Titans were 0-6 at the time.

What happened since then is remarkable.

Since the Kern release, Denver has lost three straight games to go to 6-3. The Titans have won all three games with Kern and now are 3-6.

Is Denver’s downturn as simple as the Kern release? Probably not. Denver has fallen on hard times on both sides of the ball since the bye week. But perhaps the Curse of Kern has played some part.

Denver-Baltimore halftime notes

November, 1, 2009
11/01/09
2:34
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

If the Denver Broncos are going to remain unbeaten today in Baltimore, they must continue their fabulous second-half play.

Denver has outscored opponents 76-10 while compiling a 6-0 record. The Broncos trail Baltimore 6-0. Denver trailed in the last three games in the third quarter.

Denver is playing well defensively, but it is struggling offensively. Quarterback Kyle Orton has thrown for just 35 yards. So, it’s easy to figure where the Broncos need to focus their half-time adjustments.

Denver’s outstanding right tackle Ryan Harris is out with a toe injury. He has been replaced by Tyler Polumbus. There is no long-term prognosis on Harris’ injury.

New Denver punter Mitch Berger has punted five times. He hasn’t been overly impressive he took over for the struggling Brett Kern.

AFC West: needs improvement

October, 29, 2009
10/29/09
4:20
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

Here is an area each team in the AFC West must improve upon in Week 8:

Denver's special teams: The Broncos don’t have many issues, but they do need to tighten up their special teams coverage unit. In their last game, against San Diego, Darren Sproles brought back a punt for a touchdown. Denver cut punter Brett Kern and signed veteran Mitch Berger this week in an attempt to spark the unit.

Oakland's run defense: The Raiders' run defense was horrendous against the Jets. It gave up 316 yards in the game. This has been a problem for the Raiders the past few years. And, obviously it is still a problem. The Raiders must stop San Diego’s run offense Sunday or they will not have a chance to win.

San Diego's red zone offense: The one problem for San Diego in its 37-7 win over Kansas City on Sunday was its red zone offense. The Chargers were just 2 for 5 in trips inside the Chiefs’ 20-yard line. This has been an issue all season. If the Chargers are going to get back in the playoff chase, they cannot continue to leave points on the field.

AFC West news and notes

October, 27, 2009
10/27/09
10:08
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

According to ESPN’s Stats and Information, the AFC West has been very busy using the shotgun formation. Kansas City has used the shotgun 198 times, which is the fourth most in the NFL. Denver is fifth with 184. The Chargers are averaging 8.3 yards per play using the shotgun.

An NFL spokesman said Tuesday that the league has not made any decision on whether to discipline Oakland coach Tom Cable regarding the assault allegations made by Oakland defensive assistant Randy Hanson. Authorities have declined to pursue charges against Cable. Any NFL discipline would likely be minor.

Kansas City signed receiver/returner Quentin Lawrence to the practice squad. Kansas City cut the sixth-round pick Saturday.

Tennessee claimed punter Brett Kern off waivers from Denver. He was cut Monday as Denver signed veteran Mitch Berger.

Around the AFC West

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
10:10
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

Denver made its first roster move since the beginning of the regular season by signing veteran punter Mitch Berger and it released second-year punter Brett Kern.

A 16-season veteran, Berger played for Pittsburgh last season. Kern was the 18th ranked punter in the NFL, but his net average of 34.5 yards per punt was one of the worst in the league. The 6-0 Broncos had a bye last week. Berger worked out for the team last week.
  • Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour likely was intrigued by the contract extension signed by Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware. He will receive $40 million in guaranteed money. Seymour is a free agent after this season. Oakland could put the franchise tag on him if he isn’t given an extension.
  • Pro Bowl voting has begun. Voting concludes Dec. 21.
  • Receiver/returner Quentin Lawrence has cleared waivers. Kansas City can put him on the practice squad if it wishes. He was cut Saturday. Lawrence was a sixth-round pick in April.

Evening AFC West news and notes

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
10:05
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
  • Running back Kolby Smith has begun practicing with the Chiefs. They have three weeks to decide to activate him or shelve him for the season. If Smith is ready, he should get his share of carries down the stretch.
  • Meanwhile, Kansas City safety Jon McGraw parlayed an excellent game Sunday while playing in relief of the injured Jarrad Page into a starting spot Wednesday. We’ll see if this change continues. But it is another interesting move by Chiefs coach Todd Haley.
  • Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens said he is ready to play Sunday against the Jets. He has missed nine weeks with a broken foot.
  • Denver quarterback Kyle Orton and linebacker Elvis Dumervil are on NFC West blogger Mike Sando’s latest MVP watch.
  • San Diego linebacker Kevin Burnett didn’t participate in practice Wednesday with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday. Defensive end Travis Johnson was out with a groin injury and receiver Buster Davis and linebacker Jyles Tucker were out with illnesses.
  • Kansas City offensive linemen Branden Albert and Brian Waters were both limited Wednesday with ankles injuries. That’s progress for Albert. He didn’t play at Washington because of the injury. But with him on the practice field, there is hope he can play against the Chargers on Sunday.
  • Denver worked out veteran punter Mitch Berger on Wednesday.

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