AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

For several months, the Broncos have been linked to adding a quarterback that would at least provide Drew Lock with competition. No such move has transpired, but James Palmer of notes GM George Paton is doing extensive research on this year’s crop of QB prospects (video link). Paton attended Trey Lance‘s pro day and mentioned last month that the team will consider a passer at No. 9 overall. However, Palmer expects the Broncos to also be in play for a trade-up — should the team become infatuated with one of the available arms.

While the Broncos are doing homework on all five of the top quarterbacks, they realistically only have a shot at two of them. This draft is, as of now, expected to begin with Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars and Zach Wilson heading to New York. Now in possession of the No. 3 overall pick, the 49ers have been linked to Mac Jones more so than Lance or Justin Fields. The Broncos believe Lock will improve next season and do not want to make a quarterback transaction for the sake of making one. Lock was without top receiver Courtland Sutton for most of last season and was transitioning to a new offense without the benefit of onsite offseason work, but he ranked 29th in QBR and led the league in INTs despite missing three games.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Prior to the Cardinals using the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, Jon Gruden was interested in signing the running back last year, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). The Raiders showed significantly more interest in Drake than anyone else this offseason, per Drake, whom Gruden plans using in the backfield and at wide receiver. Drake’s two-year, $11MM deal includes just $3MM guaranteed in 2021, per Tafur, but carries $5.5MM in guarantees in 2022. Drake totaled just 127 receiving yards with the Cardinals last season, but the former third-round pick should be expected to play a bigger role in the passing game in Las Vegas.
  • The Chiefs hired former defensive coordinator Ken Flajole to replace Britt Reid as outside linebackers coach, the team announced. Flajole’s most notable NFL role came when he served as Rams DC during Steve Spagnuolo‘s three-year stay (2009-11). The Rams went just 10-38 during that stretch. Flajole, 66, will come to Kansas City after spending the past five seasons as Philadelphia’s linebackers coach under Doug Pederson. Reid is no longer with the Chiefs and remains under NFL investigation. Following his February car accident that left a 5-year-old in critical condition, the Chiefs let Reid’s contract expire.
  • The Raiders considered cutting their losses on Carl Nassib‘s three-year, $25MM contract, Tafur adds, but the team instead decided to keep the rotational pass rusher on a restructured deal (subscription required). The team added three void years to Nassib’s contract, spreading out the cap hit through 2025. Nassib is on the Raiders’ cap sheet at just $4.9MM this year; that number rises to $9.2MM in 2022. Releasing Nassib next year would tag the Raiders with a $4.6MM dead-money hit.
  • Drafted third overall as a defensive end four years ago, Solomon Thomas will primarily work as a three-technique tackle with the Raiders, according to Tafur. Thomas is in line to replace Maliek Collins, who defected to the Texans in free agency. A four-year 49ers contributor, Thomas has not come close to living up to his top-five draft status. The Raiders gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25MM.
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12 comments on “AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

  1. Ak185

    Ehhh if I’m Denver, I’d hold off and trade down if I can’t get Mac Jones or Zach Wilson. The cost to move up and maybe get an unpolished Trey Lance or an OSU style QB in Justin Fields is just too rich for me. Especially with no guarantee to actually get one. After a few years of working with an unpolished passer in Lock, it seems a sideways move to acquire another physical talent to develop for a handful of years. Replenishing some of the defensive help now and going for a top tier passer next year might be better long term than trading up to settle for a second tier passer this year, whomever that ends up being.

    If Denver were a team recently removed from quarterback stability, they’d have better leeway to have patience finding a starter. They are however in the unfortunate situation of having to find someone ready to play sooner rather than later and give the team some stability at the position, especially with all of their young talent on offense that will need new contracts in the time it will take for a new QB to develop. Part of this is my personal distrust of OSU’s offensive scheme’s ability to translate to the pro, and my distrust of raw athletes expected to start as rookies at QB. But if I were Denver, I would be drafting defensive players or trading down if I could not get Jones, Wilson, or Lawrence.

      • MileHighFan

        We’ve already covered this. Lock is among the worst passers in the league in his first two years. If you want to keep finishing 5-12, then keep him under center by all means.

        • Ak185

          I would tend to agree, but Mike Shula certainly is a lackluster option at QB coach. I doubt anyone they get will really improve with him coaching/developing them.

          Ironically, the Shurmur hire would theoretically been better with Keenum under center. Missed the boat on that one.

  2. DonOsbourne

    Let the Panthers trade up and then make an offer for Bridgewater. The Broncos can win with that type of QB if they play the draft right and put some finishing touches on before the season. Everybody wants the next Mahomes. Plenty of teams have won with lesser QB’s and plenty will win in the future. The copycat thing is getting more ridiculous every offseason.

  3. GangGreen23

    Raiders would rather pay Nassib $8M+ to suck again rather than paying less to Rodney Hudson or Gabe Jackson to dominate on the Offensive Line.

    This why is why the team annually takes one step forward, two steps backwards.

    Teams are supposed to Pay the players that PERFORM over the players that don’t.

    Gruden’s personnel decisions have us all scratching our heads.

    • markdavisbarber

      I am not a Jon Gruden apologist and I am a firm believer that in the 2020 season if you lost to the Jets you did not deserve a playoff berth. Raiders came close enough. That being said, I am having trouble tracking all of the issues the Raiders roster currently faces. They came under fire for having one of the oldest rosters in the NFL, the Raiders are in salary cap hell, they cannot draft, and the free agency moves don’t make any sense. Not too bad for a team that came 1 play and 4 points from sweeping the Chiefs.
      The Raiders O-Line did not play much at all together. According to PFF, the O-line unit was ranked 24overall and constantly manned by a combination of Good, Simpson, Young, and Parker. It appears that the organization is going younger with drafted talent at a cheaper price.
      Carl Nassib restructured his contract to stay. Either the open market was not kind or Carl and the team believe that he can continue to improve as a contributor to the D.

      • Ak185

        I can agree with most of that, actually, except for one thing: whether they played together much or not, you can’t just turn over all of that starting experience and talent on your line at one time and expect success. Little by little maybe, but not suddenly. The Hudson trade was really the bad one, because he’s been the most consistent by far and Jackson and Brown barely played last year. So that much makes sense, but the Hudson trade seemed forced for not much guaranteed in return.

  4. mick58kc

    Way to go Britt Reid. Night before the flight to the Super Bowl. Chiefs got legit beat down. But I do wonder if Britt having just gone through surgery from the wreck & staring down what could have been manslaughter charges weighed on the head coaches mind. Calling plays. What ever. Glad the kid didn’t die.

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