AFC West: Pat Smis

Via the great John Clayton, I have some updated NFL salary cap numbers for each AFC West team. Remember, the salary cap is always fluid, so this is more of a guide of where each team stands as free agency moves to the second phase.

Denver Broncos

Cap room: $8.44 million

Comment: This is a result of the Elvis Dumervil fiasco. Denver needs to find a pass-rusher whether it’s Dumervil or another player.

Kansas City Chiefs

Cap room: $5.48 million

Comment: This does not include the deal for lineman Geoff Schwartz. The Chiefs can find some more room, but they’ve done a lot of heavy lifting so far.

Oakland Raiders

Cap room: $7.54 million

Comment: This does not include the deals for Nick Roach, Pat Sims and Kevin Burnett. The Raiders can find some more room by restructuring or cutting Carson Palmer and Tommy Kelly.

San Diego Chargers

Cap room: $9.95 million

Comment: This does not include the deals for Derek Cox and Ronnie Brown, so the number is closer to $7 million.
The Oakland Raiders’ signing of Kevin Burnett may be a major hint that the team will, at the very least, use some 3-4 alignments this season.

Burnett is a 3-4 linebacker, and the team also has signed Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava. The Raiders like second-year linebacker Miles Burris, who started as a rookie. I doubt the team plans to give Burris less playing time, so there’s reason to believe all four of these linebackers will have a starting role.

The versatile Lamarr Houston could be a nice 3-4 defensive end. The team signed 335-pound Pat Sims and he could be strong anchor at nose tackle. Perhaps Tommy Kelly could be kept at a reduced price to play some nose tackle as well.

Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd could be a target for Oakland with the No. 3 pick, and scouts think he is athletic enough to play end in a 3-4 defense, so that option could still be on the table if Oakland does become a 3-4 team. Perhaps a pass-rusher like Jarvis Jones of Georgia could be looked at as well.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen will likely say that his defense will be multiple and they will use both 3-4 and 4-3, but the truth is, every team has a base defense. While a team can be multiple, it will have a look that is more prevalent than the other.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. says he thinks this could be the time to make a switch because the Raiders are starting in the front seven.

“If the coaches prefer the 3-4, this is a fine time to switch, but I don’t see anyone resembling a 3-4 outside linebacker or pure nose tackle on the roster,” Williamson said. “I do love Houston as a 3-4 defensive end, though.”

If Oakland moves to a 3-4, three AFC West would have three teams to use a 3-4 defense. Kansas City and San Diego also run a 3-4.