Free Agency Winners And Losers: AFC West


Free Agency never really ends in the NFL. However, the time of fast paced negotiations and signings every 5 minutes is over. The best free agents have new teams and it’s time to start evaluating which teams did good and which teams flopped in free agency. Today, we look at the AFC West teams and analyze the moves that they made as well as the players that they lost in the crazy 2011 Free Agency period.

Denver Broncos
Signed DT Ty Warren
Traded an undisclosed late round 2013 draft pick for DT Broderick Bunkley
Re-Signed DT Marcus Thomas
Signed DE Derrick Harvey
Signed TE Dante Rosario
Signed TE Daniel Fells
Signed RB Willis McGahee
Signed WR David Anderson
Traded WR Jabar Gaffney for DT Jeremy Jarmon

Notable Losses
Cut RB Correll Buckhalter
Cut S Renaldo Hill
Lost OT Ryan Harris
Lost DT Ronald Fields
Lost RB Laurence Maroney

Notable UDFA
RB Mario Fannin
WR Mark Dell
QB Adam Weber

The Broncos are coming off one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They had a huge gaping hole at Defensive Tackle and many expected them to be in the running for high profile DT’s Brandon Mebane and Barry Cofield. Instead, Denver waited for all the big free agents to be signed and got some real bargains. Ty Warren was released by the Patriots and will help the Broncos shore up their 32nd ranked run defense. They also got DT Broderick Bunkley from Philadelphia for a late 2013 round pick. This is a low risk, high reward move for Denver. Broderick was never the pass rushing force many in Philadelphia hoped he would be, but he is a solid run defender and fits right where Denver needs help. Denver also re-signed their own DT Marcus Thomas who had a nice season for Denver in 2010 and is going to be playing his natural position as a 4-3 DT this year.

Denver also added two players who have a lot of upside in DE Derrick Harvey and DT Jeremy Jarmon. Jarmon was miscast as a 3-4 Nose tackle in Washington’s defense last year. He will be moving back to his natural 4-3 DE/DT position this year and could flourish if given the opportunity. Derrick Harvey has been a bust for Jacksonville, but he is still young and has a lot of natural talent. If he can get his head right, he could turn into a huge steal for Denver. He gives them some really nice depth at DE.

The Broncos also got some running back depth by adding Willis McGahee to their corps. McGahee is older in age (29), but has little ware and tear on his body after being a backup in Baltimore for most of his career. He is a bruiser running back who will compliment starting RB Knowshon Moreno nicely.

Overall Grade: B-

Denver didn’t make any sexy acquisitions, but there pick ups were all solid and they didn’t mortgage their future by throwing out big money. Denver needed defensive tackles and they ended up acquiring four without giving up much at all. The addition of Willis McGahee will boost Denver’s run game and the tight ends they acquired (Rosario and Fells) will help in both the pass and run game. Since John Elway took over Denver, they made it clear that they were going to build through the draft, not free agency. In their first free agency period, it appears they are sticking to that plan. They picked up a bunch of low risk, high rewards players at great values. They did lose starting RT Ryan Harris to free agency so that leaves Denver with a slightly above average game.

Kansas City Chiefs
Signed DE/DT Amon Gordon
Re-Signed OLB Tamba Hali
Signed FB Le’Ron McClain
Signed LB Brandon Siler
Signed DT Kelly Gregg
Signed WR Steve Breaston
Re-Signed TE Leonard Pope
Re-Signed C Casey Weigmann
Re-Signed CB Travis Daniels
Re-Signed OT Ryan O’Callaghan
Re-Signed S Jon McGraw
Re-Signed WR Terrence Cooper
Re-Signed RB Jackie Battle

Notable Losses
Cut G Brian Waters
Cut WR Chris Chambers
Lost DT Ron Edwards
Lost DT Shaun Smith
LB Mike Vrabel Retired

Notable UDFA
OT David Mims
DE Brandon Blair
G Butch Lewis

Kansas City is trying to build upon their AFC West Championship from last year. They did so by adding some very nice weapons for Matt Cassel to utilize. Steve Breaston is a nice #2/3 option. He will compete for playing time behind star wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and rookie wideout Jonathan Baldwin. In addition to adding fire power through the air, the Chiefs added a nice ground boost by signing FB Le’Ron McClain. McClain is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league and he can even shelter some of the load if given the chance.

After losing free agents Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith, Kansas City signed DT Kelly Gregg to fill the nose tackle position. Gregg is old (35), but is still a nice 2 down run stopper. The problem is Kansas City doesn’t have much depth at the DT position so they better hope they can stay healthy. They also lost starting middle linebacker Mike Vrabel to retirement. This leaves a hole in the middle. The Chiefs are hoping free agent LB Brandon Siler or Jovan Belcher will pick up the slack at the other MLB position.

Kansas City also gave themselves a little time to grow rookie Rodney Hudson by re-signing center Casey Weigmann. Casey is old (38), but should be able to hold down the fort one more year until Rodney Hudson steps into the starting position next year. They also resigned T Ryan O’Callaghan who is a decent RT if he can stay healthy. They also got back T Barry Richardson as a restricted free agent who will compete for RT. Kansas City had a “mutual parting” with stud guard Brian Waters and are hoping 2nd year guard Jon Asamoah will fill his shoes.

Overall Grade: C+
The Chiefs made some nice moves and picked up a couple good talents like Steve Breaston and Le’Ron McClain, but they also lost some talent this off season. They lost key defensive pieces in Ron Edwards, Shaun Smith, and Mike Vrabel, but didn’t do much to try and fill those positions other then sign NT Kelly Gregg and LB Brandon Siler. They also cut Brian Waters and are taking a gamble on Jon Asamoah. I would grade them lower, but they re-signed stud pass rusher Tamba Hali. This alone boosts their grade as Hali is one of the most underrated players in the entire league. They have some question marks, but they signed/re-signed enough talent to keep them competitive in the AFC West.

Oakland Raiders
Signed TE Kevin Boss
Signed LB Darryl Blackstock
Signed T Stephen Heyer
Signed G Justin Smiley
Signed T Seth Wand
Re-Signed C Samson Satele
Re-Signed LB Kameron Wimbley
Re-Signed S Michael Huff
Signed QB Trent Edwards
Re-Signed T Khaliff Barnes
Re-Signed LB Sam Williams
Re-Signed DE Jarvis Moss
Re-Signed DT Richard Seymour
Re-Signed CB Stanford Rutt

Notable Losses
CB Nnamdi Asamogha
TE Zach Miller
G Robert Gallery
QB Bruce Gradowski
WR Johnny Lee Higgins

Notable UDFA
S Zac Etheridge
S Quentin Scott
WR Eddie McGee

Let’s start with the good. They offset the loss of TE Zach Miller by signing Kevin Boss. They also made a nice move by signing QB Trent Edwards. They did re-sign Kameron Wimbley, Miachel Huff, Richard Seymour and Stanford Rutt but they definitely overpaid for all of them.

Now to the bad, and there is a lot of it. The loss of Nnamdi Asamogha will kill the Raiders. Nnamdi has shut down one half of the Raiders defense for a long time, but now he is in Philadelphia and the Raiders don’t have anyone competent to replace him. They also lost stud TE Zach Miller and while they signed Kevin Boss to replace him, Boss is nowhere near the receiver Miller is. On top of that, the Raiders lost guard Robert Gallery who was their starting guard. They will look to a couple second year players to replace him.

Grade: F
Oakland had the worst free agency period by far. Not because of anything they did per say, but because of the players they lost. They lost 3 of their best players. Each of those players played huge roles for the team and now Oakland is stuck trying to pick up the pieces. They made a couple okay signings like Kevin Boss and Trent Edwards, but they are undoubtedly much worse then they were before free agency.

San Diego Chargers
Re-Signed WR Malcolm Floyd
Signed WR Laurent Robinson
Re-Signed S Eric Weddle
Re-Signed OT Jeromy Clary
Re-Signed QB Billey Volek
Re-Signed CB Dante Hughes
Re-Signed Jacques Cesaire
Re-Signed LB Antwan Barnes
Signed LB Takeo Spikes
Re-Signed TE Randy McMichael
Signed S Bob Sanders

Notable Losses
LB Brandon Siler
WR Legedu Naanee
RB Darren Sproles
MLB Kevin Burnett
DE Antwan Applewhite

Notable UDFA
FB Patrick DiMarco
WR Vidal Hazelton
QB Scott Tolzien

The Chargers did a great job of retaining their talent as well as bring in more. They re-signed stud safety Eric Weddle as well as brought back Vincent Jackson via the franchise tag. They brought back Jeromy Clarey to be the starting RT, but he is a marginal player. They also brought WR Malcolm Floyd to an extremely cheap contract.

In addition to their own re-signings, they brought in LB Takeo Spikes, Laurent Robinson, and Bob Sanders. Takeo Spikes is a veteran leader who is looking for a ring. He will fill in the MLB position for San Diego’s 3-4 defense. Laurent Robinson is a decent WR who will fill in for Legedu Naanee as a backup WR.

Overall Grade: A-
They didn’t really lose much talent at all and any talent they did lose, they replaced with veteran players who should be able to step in immediately. San Diego is poised to make a run at the Super Bowl if they can stay healthy and get their Special Teams in order.