Well, the NFL season has come to an end. That is to say for the teams in the AFC West. It turned out to hold many surprises, and eventually came close to going down to the wire.
While a lot of AFC fans are thinking about the NFL Draft, the augmentation of NFL free agency, come March, will take front stage soon. At least that is the way it's been up to now.
There are many questions that need answering due to the expiration of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. What this means is there may not be Free Agency at all, or if there is, it may come with a different set of guidelines.
For now at least, let's see how teams in the AFC West stand if the CBA is resolved and is kept intact.
Below are the AFC West teams listed individually in relation to players whose contracts are due to expire. The bottom line? Who might get hurt the most? Let's start with the teams in best shape vs the teams in worst. Keep in mind, salary caps are not in effect
The AFC Division winners are probably in the best shape considering the contract extensions given to Derrick Johnson and Jamaal Charles. There is only one significant free agent of consideration; It's LB Tamba Hali. Solution? Sign him. If not, franchise him. Plain and simple.
The other issue that KC faces is not free agency, but rather the topic of potential retirements. Will Brian Watters and Casey Weigman retire? My guess is no—Haley loves Weigman and will beg him to stay. He most likely will and Watters too.
Look for KC to look to free agency to upgrade their WR position. Larry Fitzgerald? If so, its Pioli that has to initiate it. Remember, the Ravens did not have to give up a No. 1 for Boldin but KC might have to.
Fitzgerald wants out.
Arizona is rebuilding and has no QB; Fitzgerald is on the last year of his contract and wants a new one. He and Haley have a lot of mutual respect for each other, and one more important note—Arizona can't franchise Fitzgerald after next season. Its in his contract. Why would a rebuilding team not trade. Another Jared Allen situation? Fitzgerald is a good kid
Like the Chiefs, the Broncos have only one significant free agent worth noting, CB Champ Bailey. Most likely the Bronco's will throw the franchise tag on him as well. The rest of the team remains intact.
Boy, is this team in trouble. The names? Wideouts Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Kelly Washington.
Ouch. Could they start next season with Patrick Crayton and Buster Davis? No wonder many have them taking WR in the first round of the draft, and that's only for starters.
There's TE Randy McMichael, who started much of the year. . Darren Sproles too. Many think he's washed up. People said the same about Tomlinson.
All three ILB; Brandon Siler, Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett. Then you can throw in starting RT Jeromy Clary, DE Jacques Cesaire and DB's Eric Weddle and Paul Oliver.
And yes, there are more. With the recent extensions of the contracts given to Rivers and McNeill, money will be tight. We may see a whole different team come September
The Raiders are not in much better shape, though Raider Nation will scream otherwise. Lets first look at defense.
Two of Oakland's leading pass rushers, Richard Seymour and Kameron Wimbley, may be gone. They combined for what, 17 sacks last year?
On top of that, they will lose Nnamdi Asomugha, one of the league's best corners and another frequently used CB in sub-packages, Stanford Routt, not to mention safety Michael Huff.
That's only on the defensive side.
TE Zach Miller may be out along with WR Johnny Lee Higgins. Higgins is no big deal, but Miller is. Throw in QB Bruce Gradkowski also, but I'm sure they'll re-sign him.
The Offensive Line? Well it's either good news or bad news depending how you look at it. They may lose some starters as well as depth, but with their line being so bad it might not be much of a loss. The loss, however, is that if the following depart there are that many more holes to fill.
The list includes Robert Gallery, Mario Henderson, Samson Satele, Langston Walker and Khalif Barnes.
So there you have it. San Diego has the most to lose. They may be in some trouble come 2011. So might Oakland, to a lesser extent. For KC and Denver, things look positive
Now lets see what actually happens.
1/28/11- Update for chief draft gurus
Do you remember the Alex McGee trade to Tampa Bay? The result is that KC will be giving up their #6 draft pick and will be getting TB #5. Almost giving him away
Also KC with get an extra #7 from New England for Jared Page