NFL Free Agency: AFC West Preview

Michael KelleherContributor IIIJuly 25, 2011

NFL Free Agency: AFC West Preview

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    With the new collective bargaining agreement set to be ratified by both the owners and the players this week, we will soon be back, in earnest, to the business of football.

    Once the CBA is finalized, players can begin reporting to their team facilities. Teams may then begin signing their draft picks and their own free agents.

    They can also begin waiving their own players and negotiating with (but not signing) undrafted free agents and free agents from other teams.

    Training Camps, preseason games and free agency are just around the corner. After months of speculation about which player will end up where and what each team will look like once the new season kicks off, we will soon have answers.

    Here is a look at the areas each AFC West team will be looking to strengthen once free agency begins. 

San Diego Chargers

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    Team Needs: FS, WR, RB, ILB

    Key Free Agents:

    Unrestricted: Vincent Jackson (franchised), Darren Sproles, Eric Weddle, Malcolm Floyd, Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett, Brandon Siler, Legedu Nanee, Jeromy Clary

    Restricted: Mike Tolbert

    Free Agency Priorities:

    Bolster the ILB position: Stephen Cooper, Kevin Burnett and Brandon Siler are all free agents. It is important to try and resign at least two of them. Burnett should be the priority after leading the team with 124 tackles and registering 6 sacks in 2010.

    Sign a Safety: Eric Weddle is the top safety available on the open market and as such promises to be difficult to resign. There will be plenty of competition for his signature. The Chargers need to either resign Weddle or sign a quality replacement.

    Solidify the RT position: Jeromy Clary is a free agent who has done well for the Chargers over the past few seasons.

    Potential Free Agency Targets:

    Stephen Tulloch, Takeo Spikes, Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell, Atari Bigby, Danieal Manning, Willie Colon, Tyson Clabo, Jammal Brown

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Team Needs: OT, NT, ILB, OLB

    Key Free Agents:

    Unrestricted: Tamba Hali (franchised), Casey Weigman, Ryan O’Callaghan, Brodie Croyle, Mike Vrabel (retired)

    Restricted: Brandon Carr

    Free Agency Priorities:

    Sign a left tackle: Ryan O’Callaghan is a free agent. Brandon Albert has had his ups and downs since being drafted in 2008. He is better suited to play on the right side of the line.

    If the Chiefs could sign a quality left tackle in free agency, they could upgrade both tackle spots on the line.

    Sign a nose tackle: Ron Edwards is a free agent. He might be resigned but is getting old. A nose tackle is an extremely important position in a 3-4 defence. Scott Pioli is well aware of this after working with Vince Wilfork in New England for years.

    The Chiefs could use an upgrade.

    Sign a veteran OLB: Tamba Hali has been franchised after his breakout season in 2010. Mike Vrabel has retired. The Chiefs could do with a veteran OLB to play across from Hali while 2011 third-round pick Justin Houston learns the ropes in the NFL.

    Potential Free Agency Targets:

    Matt Light, Jared Gaither, Jammal Brown, Aubrayo Franklin, Pat Williams, Antwan Barnes, Travis LaBoy, Keith Bulluck

Oakland Raiders

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    Team Needs: CB, OT, S, OG, OT, TE

    Key Free Agents:

    Unrestricted: Nnamdi Asomugha, Kamerion Wimbley (franchised), Zach Miller, Bruce Gradkowski, Michael Bush, Michael Huff, Samson Satele, Robert Gallery, Mario Henderson

    Free Agency Priorities:

    Re-sign Zach Miller: Miller has a developed into one of the best young tight ends in the game. Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy have done very well for the Raiders, but Miller is the most important component of Oakland’s passing game.

    He has overcome questionable play at the quarterback position to put up solid numbers in each of four years in the league. He will be in high demand.

    Fortify the offensive line: Samson Satele and Robert Gallery are free agents. The Raiders have some promising young OL players but they must supplement these players with veteran experience if one or both of these players leave.

    Sign a corner: Nnamdi Asomugha will not be back. The Raiders have resigned Stanford Routt but they need to add another player. They play a lot of man coverage in Oakland so quality CB is very important.

    Add a safety: Michael Huff is a free agent. Tyvon Branch is a good player, but Michael Mitchell is still relatively untested at this point. The Raiders need to sign a safety to play with Branch.

    Potential Free Agency Targets:

    Kevin Boss, David Thomas, Daniel Fells, Marshal Yanda, Davin Joseph, Jared Gaither, Carlos Rogers, Antonio Cromartie, Ike Taylor, Eric Weddle, Darren Sharper, Jarrad Page

Denver Broncos

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    Team Needs: DT, RB, OL, DE, CB

    Key Free Agents:

    Unrestricted: Ryan Harris, Brady Quinn, Laurence Maroney, Wesley Woodyard

    Free Agency Priorities:

    Upgrade the defensive tackle position: The Broncos are switching to a 4-3 defence under John Fox. They do not currently have ideal personnel for this on the defensive line. They must bring in a quality defensive tackle to aid them with their transition.

    Sign a DE: Elvis Dumervil is back this year and has proved he can play DE in a 4-3. The Broncos do not have much across from him. Von Miller will play linebacker. Robert Ayers has been a bust up to this point in his career.

    Sign a RB: Knowshon Moreno has not lived up to his draft status as a first-round pick. He would be better served operating in a complimentary role. John Fox loves to run the ball, so expect this to be a priority for him.

    Upgrade the OL: Ryan Harris is a free agent. The entire OL struggled last year. Ryan Clady is excellent, but they need upgrades elsewhere along the line.

    Potential Free Agency Targets:

    Brandon Mebane, Anthony Adams, Barry Coefield, Charles Johnson, Ray Edwards, Jason Babin, DeAngelo Williams, Ronnie Brown, Michael Bush, Jeromey Clary, Jammal Brown, Justin Blalock