Grading the AFC West Offseason, so far.
The Denver Broncos
Biggest Move: Trading Aqib Talib
I had no reason to speak about Von Miller, but this picture was too good not to use
Despite most of the Broncos fan base, I do not mind the Broncos offseason so far this year. It is clear that the team are still attempting to rebuild after losing Peyton and their winning records since he has left is evidence for the great player he was. Since losing Peyton the Quarterback role in Denver has been a real battle with no consistency or positive results coming from any of the multiple options they have tried. However this offseason the Broncos have potentially put a big old band-aid on over that position with the signing of ex-Vikings superstar Case Keenum who, according to GM John Elway, has already sparked a great deal of excitement within the team so far. Although many Bronco fans may struggle to get fully behind journey-man Quarterback Case Keenum, the general consensus from the offensive veterans is positive.
This attempted rebuilding of the team and aims at creating a new excitement make the decision to ship Aqib Talib and Trevor Siemian far more agreeable, due to the deep locker room roots both players held. Although they lost two solid players, the removal of them could help and exorcise the demons the Broncos have faced over the last two seasons.
I still believe Denver needs to draft an early pick Quarterback, however, I’m not sure who will still be available by Pick 5. Obviously, Mayfield could potentially be on the board but I have a theory the Dolphins will trade for the Browns 4th Pick and steal Mayfield from the Broncos, leaving Josh Rosen from UCLA the next best option left on the board which doesn’t seem like the best fit to sit behind Keenum leaving a potentially dicy Quarterback position in Denver once again. For this reason, and this reason only, the Broncos drop a few marks in my grading.
Liams Grade: C+
Frasers Grade: C
The Oakland Raiders
Biggest Move: Adding more weapons to their offence
Derek Carr got a couple new targets this offseason but also lost his go-to.
The Raiders have not been headline news this offseason however they have still made some moves that will affect them in the coming season. One of the moves that Raiders fans seemed happy with this offseason was the acquisition of Jordy Nelson, however, maybe controversially I am not a big fan of this move. Nelson is far past his glory days, racking only 482 yards and 6 touchdowns last year (which was obviously partly due not having a healthy Rodgers.) Despite the stats, however, Nelson is still a dangerous target and will add a veteran target to the Raiders offence.
My problem with this trade is that the Raiders let go of Michael Crabtree, who has been Carr’s top target over the last few seasons, totalling 618 yards with 8 touchdowns last year. Although Crabtree and Nelson share similar numbers, I have a problem with switching like-for-like receivers and having to rebuild chemistry between a filed general and their ‘top target.’
I also am in two minds about the Doug Martin acquisition also, as it seems they are intending to keep BeastMode – which has to be a record for the oldest backfield ever. I have no doubt that Doug Martin still has some football ability in him however he only averaged 2.9 yards per carry last season, which is truly pitiful. I don’t really see how Martin fits into the backfield of Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richards, and I wonder if Martin is a contingency plan in the off chance Lynch decides to retire.
I still believe the Raiders should look at some of the late round Backs in the draft to add a fresh pair of legs to the backfield such as Justin Jackson from North Western or Kalen Ballage from Arizona State.
Liams Grade: C-
Frasers Grade: B
Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest Move: Making Mahomes their only real option
Patrick Mahomes has the weight of the Chiefs Nation on his shoulders
Kansas went into the offseason on the back of another disappointing season with a truckload of needs to be filled before the new season.
The first need the Chiefs needed to fill was the cornerback position, seeing as their star safety Marcus Peters is now a Ram (along with the rest of the leagues’ talented players.) The Rams traded for Kendall Fuller and signed David Amerson to bolster the secondary, however even with both those pickups the Rams secondary looks worse than last season, which is a frightening thought.
The Chiefs also lost their star edge rusher, Tamba Hali, a role which has not yet been filled. This leaves a lone, Justin Houston to take the strain next season.
The one move I appreciate that the Chiefs made was signing veteran receiver Sammy Watkins. Sammy has been a long time offensive weapon and his experience and knowledge will help the newbie Mahomes settle in that much quicker. I believe that picking up Watkins is the smartest move the Chiefs made all offseason, not for his talent, but for his football IQ.
Liams Grade: C+
Frasers Grade: C
Biggest Move: Signing Mike Pouncey
Old man rivers will be happy with his new protection detail
The Chargers are another team who have not made many headlines this offseason, however, the moves they made were vital to a winning 2018 season.
The Chargers had one of the worst centers in the league last year and managed to pick up Mike Pouncey who was released by the Miami Dolphins at the beginning of Free Agency. In addition to this, the Chargers managed to pick up Pouncey for an absolute steal on a 2-year, $15 Million deal. A three-time Pro Bowler, Pouncey started 93 games in seven seasons with the Dolphins but played in all 16 games last season for the first time since 2012. The Chargers could use help up front on their offensive line and have not found a long-term replacement at center since Nick Hardwick retired after the 2014 season.
With Pouncey in the fold, the Chargers have a projected starting offensive line of Russell Okung at left tackle, Dan Feeney at left guard, Pouncey at center, Forrest Lamp at right guard and Joe Barksdale at right tackle.
I believe that the Chargers should look to pick up another OT in the draft, possibly picking up Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. However, if he is still on the board I can also see the Chargers picking up Lamar Jackson in the draft, giving a contingency plan for Rivers.