AFC West: San Diego Chargers

Wes Welker's pitch to Broncos

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
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Wes Welker met the Denver media Thursday, and he made it clear he wanted the Broncos as much they wanted him.

Asked what John Elway, Denver’s executive vice president of football operations, pitched to him, Welker said: “I was probably the one pitching to him, trying to make this happen. Finally, we were able to kind of get together and get a deal done … That I want to win. That above everything. We’d figure out the money part and all that stuff later, but that winning was a big thing for me.”

Many league observers think the addition of Welker will make Denver a winner. Welker loves the idea of playing with fellow Denver receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. The receivers give quarterback Peyton Manning a tremendous group to throw to.

“I think they were another big part of me wanting to come here, just their styles and watching them on film and how good of young receivers they are,” Welker said. “I think it’s a good starting point for all of us. They did a great job last year, and hopefully I can just come in and try and help out.”

In other AFC West notes:
  • The Elvis Dumervil situation, which will be resolved by Friday, is about the only thing left for the Broncos at this point. If Dumervil is cut, forget the notion of Connor Barwin joining the Broncos. He signed with the Eagles. It had been reported Denver could pursue Barwin.
  • San Diego cornerback Antoine Cason could end up in Arizona or Jacksonville. If the Chargers don’t sign another cornerback, Shareece Wright could start opposite Derek Cox.

Take solace, Raider Nation, the tuck rule may be no more.

The NFL Competition ŚCommittee has proposed getting rid of the rule next week at the NFL owners meetings.

If it is passed, when quarterback pumps the ball and loses possession while bringing the ball back into his body, it will be ruled a fumbled. The controversial rule was inspired by a Tom Brady fumble in an eventual New England win over Oakland in the 2001 playoffs in a game the Raiders were close to securing.

The tuck rule has forever sent Oakland fans cringing. It seems like the pain may soon be over.

In other AFC West notes:
  • Denver safety Quinton Carter faces felony charges in Las Vegas on allegations that he cheated while playing craps at a casino. He missed last season with a knee injury, but the team thinks he has a future.
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Matt Cassel will compete with Christian Ponder for the starting job in Minnesota. He was cut by the Chiefs after four years on Thursday morning. The quick action to sign Cassel shows the Vikings like him.
  • The Chicago Tribune reports the Raiders are still visiting with linebacker Nick Roach. He’s a starting quality player.
  • Running back Steven Jackson has signed with Atlanta. There has been speculation Denver could be interested. The Broncos may wait until the draft to find a running back.
  • The chances for a quick return to Los Angeles for the NFL took a hit. The Raiders and Chargers are considered the favorite to relocate there.
  • The run on cornerbacks has begun with several being signed Thursday. The Raiders and Chargers are looking for cornerbacks.
The NFL Network offered an interesting nugget when it reported the Raiders have had preliminary contact with former NFL quarterback Vince Young about a workout.

While Young’s name evokes some surprise, I wouldn’t get too hopped up about it. We’re just talking about a workout.

If somehow Young does find his way in position to be offered a job in Oakland, it wouldn’t be anything more than a backup gig, whether it is caddying for Carson Palmer or Terrelle Pryor.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Chicago linebacker Nick Roach is visiting the Raiders. He started 14 games last season and had 66 tackles. The Raiders have plenty of needs on defense, and linebackers are among them. ESPN’s John Clayton also reports the Raiders are visiting with Bengals’ reserve defensive tackle Pat Sims.

In other AFC West notes:

NFL Network repots the Chargers are showing interest in cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

Chiefs keep up torrid pace

March, 12, 2013
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The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Mike DeVito.

DeVito is considered a strong player. He is a run-stuffing lineman and should make a nice pairing with Dontari Poe in a rotation that should benefit both players. The Chiefs are getting more stout up front.

DeVito played for new Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with the New York Jets, where he spent the first six seasons of his career. The Chiefs, who have been immensely busy in the past couple of weeks, signed DeVito, tight end Anthony Fasano and quarterback Chase Daniel on Tuesday. They have also brought in starting quarterback Alex Smith and cornerback Dunta Robinson in addition to keeping several key free agents.

Kansas City, which went 2-14 last season, has to be one of the early winners of the NFL offseason.

In other AFC West news:

Former Green Bay linebacker Erik Walden reportedly had interest from the Chiefs and Raiders before going to the Colts.

Great statistic from the Broncos: New Denver right guard Louis Vasquez, who signed from the Chargers on Tuesday, has played 3,435 snaps in the NFL with just one penalty. Some offensive lineman can’t go one set of downs with just one penalty.

The Raiders re-signed cornerback Phillip Adams to a one-year deal. He is a decent rotational player.

Linebacker Stewart Bradley is set to visit Denver.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby, cut by the Dolphins, could be a fit in San Diego.
We have our first big AFC West news Tuesday with guard Louis Vasquez going from San Diego to Denver in NFL free agency.

This is a move that strengthens the best team in the division and hurts the Chargers.

Vasquez is considered a tough, hard-nosed player and a solid pro. He signed for four years with a deal worth nearly $6 million a year. I would think this means the end of the Chris Kuper era in Denver. Kuper has been dealing with injuries, and there had been talk that Orlando Franklin would move from right tackle to guard.

Now, I’d expect Vasquez and Franklin to combine to be one of the better run-blocking right sides of a line. Both are big road graders.

I know the Chargers want to get more athletic on the offensive line, and they didn’t have much contact with Vasquez. But the truth is, he was their best offensive lineman, and the Chargers now may have as many as four holes on the O-line. This is a position group that has to be addressed soon.

In other AFC West news:

U-T San Diego is reporting the Chargers signed Dallas tight end John Phillips, who will likely play in a backup role. He has 30 catches in three NFL seasons.

The Alex Smith trade to Kansas City from San Francisco, as expected, became official.

The Chargers claimed running back Fozzy Whittaker, who was cut by the Cardinals on Monday. He was with new San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona. But Whittaker will have to prove he deserves a spot on San Diego's roster.

As expected, the Chargers cut defensive tackle Antonio Garay. The move saves them $5 million.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports Kansas City defensive end Glenn Dorsey will visit the 49ers.
USA Today is reporting the Kansas City Chiefs are close to signing tight end Anthony Fasano.

Fasano, 28, had 41 catches with Miami last season. He is considered a solid second tight end. He has good hands and blocks well. The Chiefs’ starter is Tony Moeaki. He has big talent, but he has had difficulty staying healthy.

The Chiefs cut Kevin Boss because of health issues. So a Fasano signing makes sense for the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the agent for Jets defensive lineman Mike DeVito said he will visit the Chiefs. DeVito played for new Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with the Jets. DeVito is considered a stout defensive lineman.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall may choose between the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals and he will visit both teams. He has a history with new Arizona coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh.

Schefter is also reporting the Broncos will visit with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He’d be a pretty nice get for Denver.

NFL Network is reporting Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers will visit the Cardinals and the Chargers. The Chargers have expressed a lot of interest.

*UPDATE: Schefter reports the Fasano deal is done in Kansas City.
Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle he expects to be released by the team. Kelly is his own agent, and he told the paper he has not had any contact with the team this offseason.

“The writing is on the wall," Kelly told the paper. "The team is going in another direction. I'm ready for the next chapter. ... They're ready too."

Quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey may have to take pay cuts to avoid being cut as Oakland tries to get enough cap room to maneuver through the offseason.

In other AFC West news:

U-T San Diego reports the Chargers have given receiver Danario Alexander the low restricted-franchise tag tender. There is a chance that a team could give Alexander a decent offer, but the truth is that he was recently on the street and has dealt with multiple knee issues. The Chargers felt it was worth the risk.

The Chargers signed long snapper Mike Windt to a four-year extension.

The Denver Post reported the Broncos visited with cornerback Dunta Robinson on Friday before he signed with the Chiefs. Cleary, Denver is in the mix for a veteran cornerback.

Pittsburgh cut pass-rusher James Harrison. His skills have been declining, and he is 34. I’m not sure there will be a huge AFC West market for him. For what it’s worth, the Chargers have a couple of the things Harrison is looking for in a new team: They play a 3-4 defense and are a warm-weather team.
Shane Lechler’s market in free agency has gotten stronger.

The Cincinnati Bengals have re-signed punter Kevin Huber, and Lechler and Huber were considered the best free agents on the market. Kansas City Chiefs re-signed Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt on Monday with a five-year, $18-plus million deal that makes Colquitt the game’s richest punter.

Though he is 36 and coming of an injury, Lechler is expected to get interest on the open market Tuesday. The Oakland Raiders have many needs and limited resources, so keeping Lechler might be difficult. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported the Texas native is interested in joining the Houston Texans.

In other AFC West news:

In an Insider piece, here is a call Insider for the Broncos to add St. Louis receiver Danny Amendola in free agency. I can see it. He’d certainly be a nice fit there.

The agent for San Diego free agent guard Louis Vasquez said his client is going to test the market. Vasquez is a good player and the Chargers badly need offensive lineman, but the team has not aggressively pursued him.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen was at Texas A&M’s Pro Day workout Friday. He is an alumnus of the school. The Aggies have several NFL prospects this season.

Andy Reid has brought a respected scout with him to Kansas City from Philadelphia. Expect to hear about a lot of personnel decisions in the coming months in Kansas City as the new regime gets its own people in place. The same thing can be said in San Diego with its new regime.
Here is a look at some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:

Denver

Trevor from Queensbury NY: What kind of pay cut do you expect Denver to ask Elvis to take? And do you think he will accept it?

Bill Williamson: It's 12 mil now, I'd think they want the cut to be fairly significant. So far, I hear he is not excited about the idea. If Denver presses, he may have to guess what the market for him would be and make a decision where he wants to be. This thing is fluid.

Kansas City

Matt from KC: Chiefs need a solid #2 CB. I liked the idea of taking Milliner 1st overall, but now that Winston has been cut, we're locked into OL with the first pick it seems. Thoughts on the best cornerback fits in FA?

BW: I don't think the Chiefs are locked into anything with the top pick. Everything is on the table with a trade being a preference.

Oakland

Ibetonart from Black Hole: Palmer is worth what? 4-5 base with incentives to 7 mil? I want Pryor starting game 1 though. Could Raiders work out a restructure with Palmer with plans to trade him to Arizona for a 3rd & 5th RD pick

BW: I could see that, yes. But Arizona always ball and wait to see him cut. If Palmer refuses a pay cut, Oakland’s only two chances (if there are no trade partners) is to swallow the deal or cut him.

San Diego

Fett from Disneyland: Rivers and Weddle have both said that they would redo their contracts to help the Team out...why wouldn’t the GM jump at the chance to help the cap number?

BW: It depends. Just restructuring for restructurings sakes gets teams in trouble down the road. It's like credit card spending. Have to be smart about it.
One of the more interesting storylines in the NFL is what the Kansas City Chiefs are going to do with the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft.

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AP Photo/G.M. AndrewsDespite using the franchise tag on their left tackle, the Chiefs could still draft a blue-chip lineman such as Eric Fisher.
The issue got more intriguing Wednesday night when the team cut solid right tackle Eric Winston. It put back in the play the possibility of the Chiefs drafting either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher with the top pick. Both players are left tackles. Joeckel is considered a slightly better prospect by many analysts, but Fisher is also highly regarded. The possibility of either player being the top pick seemed to lessen Monday when the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert. But now either player could be taken to replace Winston at right tackle and to provide insurance if a long-term deal isn’t reached with Albert.

Here are some more thoughts on the issues:

Scout think Joeckel and Fisher can play right tackle: I reached out to Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. This is what he said: “I think they can both play on the right or left. Fisher actually started four games at right tackle in 2010. I also think both are Day 1 starters regardless of where you play them.”

Albert isn’t the answer at right tackle: Forget the idea of Kansas City taking Joeckel or Fisher to play on the left side and sliding Albert to the right side. Albert is adamant that he is a left tackle. Teams usually don’t place a $9.7 million franchise tag on a right tackle. That type of commitment is reserved for left tackles. Plus, like most franchised players, Albert is not overly happy. The Chiefs do not want to further upset him by changing his position.

Albert could always be traded: The Chiefs can always decide to draft Joeckel or Fisher to play left tackle, plug the hole at right tackle with someone else and trade Albert. There would be a market for him. The Chiefs would like to recoup the second-round pick given up in the Alex Smith trade. I’m sure several teams with a high second-round pick would be interested in Albert. You don’t think the Chargers would give a second-round pick for Albert? I’d even think he could be a late first-round pick in the right situation. That way, the Chiefs could also save a load of money. I’m not sure how likely such a scenario is, but it is a possibility.

Andy Reid will be tempted: New Kansas City coach Andy Reid likes to draft big folks. In Philadelphia, Reid took an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round eight times. So, taking a player and plugging him in at right tackle wouldn’t make Reid blink.

Hue Jackson the Oakland G.M.?

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
8:20
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Former Oakland coach Hue Jackson told Sports Illustrated he was offered the Raiders’ general manager job by owner Al Davis in 2009 before he was the team’s head coach.

Jackson was the Raiders head coach when Davis died in 2011. After the season Jackson was fired.

My reaction to Jackson’s claims? Whatever. It really doesn’t matter anymore.

The funny thing was Jackson became the Raiders’ de facto general manager after Davis died and he made the Carson Palmer trade that has severely hampered the Raiders. So, Jackson did get his chance to make the calls in Oakland and it didn’t work.

In other AFC West notes:
  • I want to wish former San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman -- a beast in his first three NFL seasons -- the best of luck in his retirement. He was a terrific guy to interview. I always appreciated his time and views.
  • Will making the short trip across the bay to San Francisco be the right fit for Oakland free-agent defensive tackle Richard Seymour. It could. I think Seymour will best fit with a contender as a rotational player.

Random franchise tag thoughts

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
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Some thoughts on what the franchise tag deadline means outside of Kansas City in the AFC West as the Chiefs ruled the day:

I’m not surprised that Oakland and San Diego didn’t place the franchise tag on any players. None were worthy of the tag.

It will be interesting to see how the Dustin Colquitt contract affects what Shane Lechler looks for on the open market. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Colquitt signed a five-year, $18.75 million deal. The deal makes Colquitt the highest paid punter in the NFL.

Colquitt is 30 and is coming off of a Pro Bowl season. Lechler is 36, coming off a so-so year and he is coming off an injury. Lechler is considered one of the greatest punters of all time, but I’m not sure if he will command the money Colquitt did. The Raiders are interested in bringing back Lechler, but they have other needs as well.

UPDATE: Schefter reported Lechler would be interested in joining the Texans. He is from Texas.

With Branden Albert getting the franchise tag in Kansas City, the Chargers can scratch a potential free-agent target off their list. But the free-agent left tackle class is still solid so the Chargers will be OK if they decide to try to answer their biggest need in free agency.

In other AFC West news:

The Contra Costa Times reported the Raiders created more salary-cap room by cutting the salary of guard Mike Brisiel. Many people thought Brisiel could be cut because he is a better fit for the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used last year. But it scuttled that attack moving forward. But it seems Brisiel will, at least, get a chance to keep his starting job.

The Chiefs are still in the mix for free-agent defensive end Chris Canty even though he is making other trips. The process still may take some time.

At this point, it seems that former Minnesota coach Brad Childress will not join Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City this year, but it could conceivably change.
As expected, the Denver Broncos placed the franchise tag on standout left tackle Ryan Clady.

Clady
Should the San Diego Chargers take action?

Teams can pursue franchised players such as Clady -- the left tackle franchise price tag is more than $9.8 million -- by giving them a contract offer more than the player’s existing team can match. If the team fails to match the offer, the new team must surrender its first-round pick in the next two drafts.

It is extremely rare for teams to even consider making a run at franchised players because of the price and restrictions. But would it be worth the Chargers’ while to consider taking a run at Clady.

Left tackle is the Chargers’ greatest need. Clady is a 26-year-old premier player. He would instantly make the Chargers better and he’d make Philip Rivers better. A Rivers-Clady pairing would be just the elixir Rivers’ career needs. New San Diego coach Mike McCoy was Denver’s offensive coordinator. He has a history with Clady and knows how important he is to offensive success.

In addition to the great fit, the Chargers would badly damage the best team in the AFC West by plucking Clady. Denver would have to seriously change its plans if it lost Clady. It would have to find a suitable replacement because Peyton Manning is way too valuable to have an inadequate blind-side protector.

Even if Denver would match an offer San Diego made, it could be worth it to the Chargers because they could dictate the terms and that could disrupt Denver’s offseason plans because it is currently not counting on giving Clady a long-term deal at this moment.

There would be some things for the Chargers to consider before making a run at Clady. While the need for a left tackle is great, it is not the team’s only need. The Chargers are more than one player away from contending, no matter how nicely Clady would fit there.

Signing Clady would take a huge chunk of San Diego’s salary-cap spending this offseason and losing two top draft picks is never ideal, especially when a rival gets the picks.

Again, such moves are rare and I‘d be surprised if San Diego were to make such a move. But it could be worth, at least, exploring. Great players such as Clady don’t often come available and the opportunity to weaken a rival is also a rare opportunity.

Chat wrap: Chargers-Raiders trade?

February, 28, 2013
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Here is a look at some highlights of our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:
Denver

Benw32 from snowy Colorado: How many Broncos games do you think will be in primetime this year?

Bill Williamson: What's the max, five? Probably, five. [Peyton] Manning is a ratings attraction. I wonder if the AFC West Week 1 MNF streak will continue. The second game of the doubleheader is always on the West Coast. SF and Seattle will be attractive this year.

Kansas City

Steve from KCMO: With the recent trade for Alex Smith will the Chiefs have a better year than last? Yes I know they went 2-14 and anything is better but will Smith make us a playoff contender?

BW: I don’t know if Smith alone makes this a playoff team. But he is an upgrade and so is [Andy] Reid. The Chiefs have to continue to do some things, but they are making strides.

Oakland

Raid3r4lif3 from Texas: Geno Smith>Terrelle Pryor? Your Thoughts?

BW: Don't know yet. It would be a disaster if Oakland bypassed defense and took Smith instead of Pryor and Pryor ends up better.

San Diego

Baruch Kreiman From Los Angeles: What do you think of a SD-OAK trade in which SD gives its 1&2 for raiders 1, SD gets [Luke] Joeckel or [Eric] Fisher, and the Raiders get a second round pick?

BW: They might have to add to that a bit. I don't think the Chargers want to give a bunch of picks for Fisher where [Lane] Johnson may end up being just as good. Also, they wouldn't want to help the Raiders improve.

Oakland FA Bryant arrested

February, 24, 2013
2/24/13
4:25
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Oakland free agent defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on misdemeanor criminal mischief charges.

Bryant is a free agent and he is expected to be sought after on the open market. Oakland will be tight against the cap and it may have a difficult time re-signing Bryant. As long as the charge remains a misdemeanor, it likely won’t really affect Bryant’s ability to get a solid deal in free agency.

In other AFC West news:

CBS Sports is reporting receiver Steve Breaston is nearing a deal with Pittsburgh. He was recently cut by the Chiefs. It makes sense that Breaston is heading to the Steelers. Their offensive coordinator is Todd Haley. Breaston played for Haley in Arizona and in Kansas City.

Here is more chatter linking the Chiefs to San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith.

U-T San Diego is reporting that A.J. Smith, fired as the Chargers’ general manager after the season, is in Indianapolis, trying to line up a job as a scout with a team.

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