NFL Free Agents 2012: Oakland Raiders Being Left Behind in the AFC West?

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NFL Free Agents 2012: Oakland Raiders Being Left Behind in the AFC West?
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The Oakland Raiders, under new head coach Dennis Allen, haven't made the greatest start to the first free-agency period without Al Davis leading the franchise.

Davis didn't leave Allen with much wiggle room, as the Raiders entered this offseason with some worrisome cap issues.

Even prior to the start of free agency, cornerback Stanford Routt was let go after underperforming in comparison to the massive contract he received after the previous season. While the Raiders obviously have their own issues to deal with, those issues are being worsened by the actions of every other team within their division.

The Chiefs decided to rub salt in the wounds caused by Routt's release by signing him to a more respectable deal. Routt will now start for one of the Raiders' biggest rivals.

Not stopping there, the Chiefs have done everything possible to improve their team so far outside of landing a nose tackle and Peyton Manning. With Eric Winston at right tackle, they brought in the best in the league at his position for another reasonable deal.

Furthermore, Peyton Hillis is a bargain at $3 million who should provide an excellent complementary piece and and maybe even an improvement, with Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster in the backfield.

The Chiefs, unlike the Raiders, have plenty of cap room available to further add to the team as well as a high first-round draft pick and returning key players from injury since last year. They figure to be a force in the West this season.

Outside of the Chiefs, the Chargers are probably the favorites for the West after making a flurry of signings to improve the team.

Jarret Johnson is one of the more underrated players in the NFL at the outside linebacker position. While he doesn't give the team the pass rush they desire on the edge, he is a polished and versatile player who instantly improves the defensive front seven.

Former Ravens are a theme of the Chargers' free agency early on, as the team has also re-signed Jared Gaither to be their left tackle and brought in LeRon McClain as Mike Tolbert's replacement. Gaither in particular should be a huge addition after solidifying the line towards the end of last season.

With those pieces in place, all the Chargers needed to do was replace Vincent Jackson and improve the right side of the offensive line. The offensive line can be addressed in the draft, as the team signed Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem to play outside with Malcom Floyd.

Meachem and Royal aren't star signings, but Philip Rivers should be able to get the best out of them to once again have a strong passing attack next year.

The Broncos are the only team in the AFC West who haven't improved their roster as of yet, but they are still embroiled in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. If the Broncos sign Manning, then the Raiders are at risk of being completely left behind in the West.

It is definitely too early to write off the Oakland Raiders, but things aren't looking good right now.

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