2010 NFL Free Agency: 10 Questions Facing the AFC West

James Adkins@KCChiefsBlitzCorrespondent IIMarch 18, 2010

DENVER - DECEMBER 20:  Brandon Marshall #15 of the Denver Broncos stiff arms Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders in the second half at Invesco Field at Mile High on December 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 20-19.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

At one point the AFC West was considered the toughest division in the AFC. Today, however, only the San Diego Chargers have finished a season over .500 since 2007, and in 2008 they actually won the West with an 8-8 record. 

The Broncos have been continued to disappoint in recent seasons, while both the Chiefs and Raiders have been downright miserable. 

So with each team in the West attempting to fill any number of holes on their rosters, it only makes sense for each of them to make a big splash in free agency. 

Here are 10 questions facing AFC West teams regarding moves they may or may not be making in free agency this spring. 

Question No. 1

Will Denver Be Able to Move Restricted Free Agent Brandon Marshall?

While it has been widely reported that Seattle was quite interested in obtaining Marshall for his first-round tender from the Broncos, the chances of that happening may have taken a hit when they traded for former Charger QB Charlie Whitehurst. 

Seattle swapped second-round picks with the Chargers this year, but they still have two first-round choices to try and entice the Broncos with to get Marshall. The real question is whether or not that price is still too high given Marshall's sketchy past. 

Question No. 2

After signing free agent C Casey Wiegmann and G Ryan Lilja, will the Chiefs try to sign anyone else to shore up one of the league's poorest offensive lines from last season?

Wiegmann, who was the team's starting center back in 2007, will likely fill that role again in place of the disappointing Rudy Niswanger. Lilja should step in immediately at the other guard spot opposite former All-Pro Brian Waters. 

What's still missing for this team is a franchise left tackle, and it's still completely reasonable to assume the Chiefs will wait until the draft and go after any one of the exceptional tackle prospects in this year's class.

If they use their first pick on a tackle, it will likely be Russell Okung or Anthony Davis, moving Brandon Albert to right tackle. Should the team wait until later to address the position, Albert will probably stay on the left side, which isn't where the Chiefs think his future is with this team.

Question No. 3

Will Brady Quinn supplant Kyle Orton as the Broncos starting quarterback?

Prior to last season, the Broncos went out and got Kyle Orton to replace Jay Cutler as quarterback. New head coach Josh McDaniels took Orton, who had never thrown for more than 3,000 yards in a season, finished the season with over 3,800 yards and 21 TDs. 

Broncos fans will be hoping McDaniels can do the same thing with Quinn, who has a reasonable chance of beating out Orton at some point in 2010. 

Question No. 4

How does the trade of restricted free agent Charlie Whitehurst, from San Diego to Seattle, help the Chargers in 2010?

By trading Whitehurst, the Chargers were able to swap second-round picks with the Seahawks, and acquire a third-rounder in 2011. 

Given the fact that Chargers have already lost four of their better players (Tomlinson, Cromartie, Osgood, and Manumaleuna) this offseason, they can use all the help in the draft that they can get. 

Question No. 5

By not re-signing Mike Brown or attempting to sign free agent Darren Sharper, what will the Chiefs do about the safety position this offseason?

When Tampa Bay, who picks ahead of the Chiefs in April's draft, signed former Eagles safety Sean Jones, it created a prime opportunity for the Chiefs to get the best safety in this year's draft, Eric Berry. 

If Berry is gone when the Chiefs pick, it's safe to assume that the Chiefs should be able to grab a decent young safety in round two or three. 

Question No. 6

After being released by the Raiders, will running back Justin Fargas find a new home elsewhere in the AFC West?

The word is that the Chiefs were interested in Fargas just briefly before they signed Thomas Jones. With San Diego thin at running back after releasing LaDainian Tomlinson, they are likely the only potential suitors within the division for Fargas's services. 

Question No. 7

Will restricted free agent quarterback Bruce Gradkowski put the final nail in the coffin of Jamarcus Russell's career out in Oakland?

While Gradkowski was ecstatic to sign his offer from the Raiders in hopes of being the team's starter this season, Russell was busy missing the first part of mini-camp. Russell hasn't endeared himself recently to this teammates, and if he doesn't quickly turn his attitude around, the job will be Gradkowski's to lose. 

Question No. 8

Can running back Thomas Jones unseat Jamaal Charles as the Chiefs starting running back in 2010?

The Chiefs running back situation has 1A and 1B written all over it. Because Charles gives the Chiefs greater potential for the big play and is a better receiver out of the backfield, the job should be his to lose. However, don't be surprised if Jones still rushes for 1,000 yards as the backup to Charles this season. 

Question No. 9

With so many needs on both sides of the ball, will the Raiders spend any money in free agency this season?

The short answer to this question is "probably not"; however, it has been reported that Terrell Owens may be on a short list of players that Al Davis is looking at. If the Raiders don't sign Owens, it will be surprising if they go after anyone else prior to the draft. 

Question No. 10

What will the Chargers do about their glaring need at running back?

While there are a couple of pretty good backs still available in free agency like Brian Westbrook and Willie Parker, don't look for the Chargers to attempt to sign either of them. 

Instead, rather than worrying about their injury history, the Chargers will likely make a move for a back in April's draft.


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