We have moved through the initial wave of free agency in the National Football League, which means that it is time for teams to fill in the smaller gaps on their rosters. Such major moves as Tom Brady leaving New England after 20 seasons to lead the Tampa Bay offense, or for Jason Witten to end a career in Dallas that started in 2003, only to start a new chapter with the Las Vegas Raiders. Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are two of the biggest names that remain as question marks, as the Panthers released Newton and Winston’s job now appears occupied by Brady. In this article, we will take a look at the moves that the four teams in the AFC West have made — and might still make — ahead of the 2020 regular season with the updated NFL Odds and Super Bowl Odds.
NFL: AFC West Free Agency Thoughts Week 1
A key addition is Graham Glasgow, an interior offensive lineman. If you don’t think the offensive line should be a key priority for a team, take a look at Tony Romo’s performance in Dallas before Jerry Jones allowed his son, Stephen, to take a major role on draft day and in free agency decisions. At that point, the team moved away from splashy signings and toward building strong offensive and defensive lines. Romo had time in the pocket, the team built a running game — and the team started winning. Denver had lost Connor McGovern to the New York Jets, so Denver went after Glasgow, who was a four-year starter in Detroit, appearing at center and both guard positions. Glasgow will give quarterback Drew Lock time to develop as a quarterback in the pocket.
But why bring in Melvin Gordon? He will hit the salary cap for $7 mil in 2020 and $9 mil in 2021, but the Broncos already had the tandem of Philip Lindsay as the speed back and Royce Freeman as the short-yardage back.
Las Vegas Raiders
Cory Littleton is a linebacker who can cover tight ends and slot receivers. He has five picks and 22 passes defensed in the last two seasons. He doesn’t deliver big hits at the line of scrimmage, but his speed from sideline to sideline is terrific, which will help against the quickness of the Kansas City offense, in particular. He would be a great spy against quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson.
Adding Jason Witten is a bit of question mark, because the Raiders already found a terrific tight end in Darren Waller. Waller can run routes and shed coverage — and he can also stay in and block. The Raiders also had Foster Moreau to learn the game and to add blocking protection. Both of them have more mobility than Witten — who should not see much field time unless Waller and Moreau go down to injury.
Chris Harris Jr adds a solid piece to a secondary that was already loaded, with Nasir Adderley, Derwin James, Desmond King and Casey Haywards. Harris was a value add for his two-year contract, and while he shouldn’t start, he will rotate in as a slot corner. Teams in the AFC West have to deal with the high-octane offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Harris helps the Chargers get a step closer to doing just that.
Philip Rivers is no longer a Charger — he signed a deal to join the Indianapolis Colts. The team doesn’t seem to be rebuilding, though, given the age of the free agents the Chargers have brought in (all three are 31 years old, signed to two- or three-year deals). But who is the quarterback? Right now, it’s Tyrod Taylor, and the Chargers were interested in Tom Brady, but we haven’t seen any sign of them going after Newton, or Winston, or the likes of Andy Dalton. If they are going to push the Chiefs, they need more than Taylor running the offense.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have not really done much in the free agency market. That’s not all that surprising, because they won Super Bowl LIV and haven’t lost any major pieces to free agency. I would be surprised to see them shell out major cash for any free agents going forward unless they suffer a major injury; instead, I see them focusing on the draft to find reserves for the most important positions going forward.