AFC West: Travelle Wharton

While Oakland has expressed interested in free-agent offensive lineman Travelle Wharton, he is not going to visit at this point.

Oakland’s interest in the veteran makes sense because the team needs more experience at guard. But I get the sense Wharton is looking for more money than the Raiders are offering. Denver also has interest in Wharton, but finances are an issue as well.
The Denver Broncos are either confident they will have star pass-rusher Von Miller for the first four games of the regular season or they simply do not want to deal with the reality of the idea.

Denver coach John Fox told reporters Wednesday that Miller will get first-team repetitions while he awaits his appeal of a four-game suspension for substance abuse. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported it will be held in mid-August and there will be resolution prior to Denver’s season opener, Sept. 5 against Baltimore.

“Well, first of all let me make one thing perfectly clear, that we are aware of the reports,” Fox said in comments distributed by the team. “Due to confidentiality, we can’t report, but I can sit here and tell you here as of right now when we start camp, every one of our players is eligible, there are no suspensions and that is the way we will start the season.”

Miller was guarded in his answers, but maintained that he is looking forward to the season.

“I’m focused. I love playing football,” Miller said. “I can’t wait for training camp to start. ... I look forward to rushing the passer and doing all those drills ... and just getting back to laughing and doing all the stuff we do out there on the football field. I’m anxious for that.”

The Broncos are anxious to hear good news about Miller. Playing four games without him would be a major blow. Miller has 30 sacks in his first two NFL seasons. Just four players have accomplished that feat since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Denver is a much more effective defense with Miller than without him. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he played 915 out of 1,015 defensive snaps last season. Denver allowed 4.5 yards per play with Miller and 5.1 without him. Opponents’ Total QBR was 21.8 with Miller on the field and 58.8 with him off the field.

In other AFC West notes:

Offensive lineman Travelle Wharton has cancelled his visit to Denver. I get the sense he is looking for more than what Denver is offering. He will sit and wait. Denver could always revisit.

The NFL Network is reporting the Chiefs hope to get No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher signed by the weekend. Kansas City’s rookies started to practice Tuesday, but the full team doesn’t start until Friday. I don’t get the sense there is much worry that the starting right tackle will miss significant time.

As expected, Denver plans to keep star left tackle Ryan Clady out of training camp for the first two or three weeks, according to the Denver Post. Clady had offseason rotator cuff surgery, but he is fine. Denver wouldn’t have given him a new contract this month otherwise. Also, offensive lineman Chris Kuper and J.D. Walton are on the physically unable to perform list.

New San Diego pass-rusher Dwight Freeney is now wearing his customary No. 93. Defensive tackle Cam Thomas is wearing No. 92. I’m sure it cost Freeney a tad to get the number.
The Denver Broncos are heading to training camp with a banged up offensive line, so it is no surprise the team is looking at adding some veteran depth.

According to a league source, Travelle Wharton is flying to Denver on Wednesday night for a visit. He was cut by the Bengals on Monday. He visited with the Panthers on Tuesday, but a deal was not struck. If the Broncos and Wharton like what they see in each other, a deal could be made this week.

Wharton, 32, missed all of last season with a knee injury. He started 99 games for Carolina from 2004-11. He played all but one of those years for Denver coach John Fox with the Panthers. Wharton was known as a Fox favorite because of his effort and his role as a leader in the locker room.

So, this potential pairing makes a lot of sense.

UPDATE: Wharton has cancelled his visit to Denver. I get the sense he is looking for than what Denver is offering. He will sit and wait. Denver could always revisit.
As Denver star linebacker Von Miller appeals a four-game NFL suspension, the Denver Broncos released another veteran linebacker.

The team announced Tuesday morning it has cut Joe Mays. The inside linebacker was a popular, tough player, but his ability was limited. It has long been expected that the team may move away from Mays. He started 21 games in the past three seasons in Denver.

The team is turning to Nate Irving, Stewart Bradley and Steve Johnson at middle linebacker with Irving getting the first crack at winning the job. Denver reportedly saves $3.5 million in salary-cap room by cutting Mays.

In other AFC West notes:
  • The Football Outsiders think San Diego cornerback Shareece Wright is primed to have a breakout year .
  • The Football Outsiders think the Oakland Raiders have the worst collection of young talent in the league . I think that can change in the next couple of years if the current young talent develops and the team drafts well.
  • The Bengals cut veteran offensive tackle Travelle Wharton. He is versatile, and with most of the AFC West teams needing depth on the offensive line, he could be a name to keep an eye on if he can stay healthy. He is visiting Carolina on Tuesday.
  • Oft-injured Kansas City tight end Tony Moeaki has been cleared to begin training camp.
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.

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