AFC West Review of Free Agents
April 4, 2019
NFL free agency is underway, and the early returns may signal some significant changes in the race to succeed the Kansas City Chiefs as the best team in the AFC West. The Chiefs have suffered the most losses in free agency of any team in the AFC West, and quite possibly the NFL.
Here is a summary of free agency in the AFC West to this point:
Oakland Raiders – The Raiders had the worst roster going into the off-season and have made some significant additions in free agency and through a few trades:
Antonio Brown – The best wide receiver in the NFL over the past six seasons, Brown was acquired for 3rd and 5th round draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. Brown was unhappy in Pittsburgh and demanded a trade from the Steelers and his request was granted. He signed a new contract with the Raiders with $30 million in guaranteed money. This was a steal for the Raiders.
Trent Brown – The New England Patriot left tackle signed a $66 million, four-year contract with the Raiders, the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history. Brown will be 26 in a few weeks. Denver Bronco star Von Miller, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, has called Brown “a top five offensive tackle.”
Tyrell Williams – The former Charger wide receiver signed with the Raiders for $44 million over the next four years, with $22 million of it guaranteed. He will be missed by the chargers, but the chargers were not able to match or compete with the offer from the Raiders. Pairing Williams with Antonio Brown will make the Raiders a very tough matchup for the chargers secondary.
LaMarcus Joyner - The Raiders reached into Los Angeles again to sign the Rams starting free safety. Joyner’s contract is a $42 million, four-year deal with $16.7 million guaranteed. At 28 years old and with 42 career starts, Joyner will immediately upgrade the Raiders secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs have had rough off-season, with the loss of several key players. Center Mitch Morse signed with Buffalo, cornerback Steven Nelson signed with Pittsburgh, defensive end Justin Houston signed with Indianapolis and wide receiver Chris Conley signed with Jacksonville. Defensive end Dee Ford was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for 2nd round pick. He was going to be too expensive to re-sign.
They did add safety Tyrann Mathieu, who will replace Eric Berry. The Chiefs released Berry, a five-time Pro Bowl safety, after injuries limited him to just three appearances over the past two seasons. Mathieu was signed from Houston to a three-year, $42 million-dollar, three-year contract, with $26.8 million guaranteed. They will need to find help in the draft to overcome some of their roster losses.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos acquired former Super MVP quarterback Joe Flacco from Baltimore for a 4th round draft pick. Flacco had lost his starting job to rookie Lamar Jackson. The Broncos added right tackle Ja'Wuan James, a top run blocker from the Miami Dolphins and defensive back Kareem Jackson from Houston. These additions will strengthen a good Bronco running game and help solidify the secondary. Flacco would seem to be a good fit for the Broncos with his ability to throw deep and manage a game.
chargers – All is quiet on the chargers front. The chargers have focused on re-signing a couple of key free agents and adding veteran Linebacker Thomas Davis and back-up quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The chargers simply do not have a lot money available under the salary cap and they are very satisfied with their current roster.
The chargers do have one of the best rosters in the NFL, but they could use help at defensive tackle. Maybe they can find that help in the NFL draft or maybe they need to look in the neighborhood. Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a free agent and he would be a good short term signing for the chargers.
Suh is a four-time pro bowl player and one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. If the chargers can free up some money to sign Suh, they would become the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC West.
One warning to the chargers, the Raiders are going to be much improved in 2019. Besides the significant additions to their roster through free agency, the Raiders have 3 first round draft picks in the 2019 NFL draft.
In fact, they will have three picks in the first round before the chargers have made their first pick in the draft. There may be a changing of the guard in the AFC West and it should favor the chargers. But the hated Raiders may also have something to say about that, as well.