Cody Thompson

AFC West Notes: Gordon, Broncos, Thornhill

In examining the contract impasse between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon, both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com emphasize one factor that has been largely overlooked in other reports and opinions concerning Gordon’s threat to sit out the entire season: if Gordon makes good on his threat, his contract would toll and he would still be under club control in 2020 at the same salary he would earn in 2019. So Gordon really doesn’t have a ton of leverage here, which is why Fitzgerald believes the 2015 first-round pick will ultimately be on the field come Week 1 regardless of whether he has a new deal in place.

Now for more from the AFC West, starting with additional thoughts on Gordon:

  • Fitzgerald notes that Gordon does not fit neatly into either the top tier of the league’s running backs, who have contracts paying at least $13MM per season, or into the second tier, which tops out at an AAV of $8.25MM. Fitzgerald believes that, if the Chargers want to keep Gordon for the long haul — which is still up in the air at this point — the two sides will come together on a pact that pays Gordon around $10MM per season.
  • It’s roster projection season, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post takes a look at the Broncos‘ WR situation. Emmanuel Sanders‘ inability to participate in the Broncos’ offseason program allowed the club to thoroughly its evaluate young pass catchers, who impressed the coaching staff with their intelligence and instincts. O’Halloran notes that Sanders could open training camp on the PUP list, and his health may force Denver to carry six receivers, good news for rookie sixth-rounder Juwann Winfree and UDFA Trinity Benson. O’Halloran believes both players will make the team.
  • In a separate piece, O’Halloran explores UDFA Ahmad Gooden‘s chances of making the Broncos. O’Halloran says Gooden drew interest from multiple teams after the draft but saw Denver as the best fit given its newfound openings at OLB. Gooden was a stand-up DE in college, but he was asked to drop into both man and zone coverage, which is a skill that’s expected of the Broncos’ outside ‘backers. If he can flash some pass rush ability, he will have a good shot.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com examines the Broncos‘ revamped secondary, which should be a strength for the team this season. However, he notes that safety Su’a Cravens may be a long shot to make the 53-man roster. While Denver’s previous regime saw Cravens as a dime linebacker, new HC Vic Fangio says Cravens will need to make the club as a pure safety, which seems like a dubious proposition given Cravens’ struggles in coverage in 2018, his first season with the Broncos.
  • Brook Pryor of the Kansas City Star takes a shot at projecting the Chiefs‘ 53-man roster. After an impressive spring, Pryor believes UDFA Cody Thompson will fill the club’s last WR spot at least until Tyreek Hill returns from his likely suspension, and she tabs Juan Thornhill as a key piece to the Kansas City secondary. The second-round rookie from UVA looked good in spring practices before injuring his hamstring, and assuming he is ready for training camp and continues to play well, he will be the Chiefs’ starting free safety and Tyrann Mathieu will be able to play closer to the line, which is his preference.

Chiefs Sign 17 UDFAs

The Chiefs have announced the signing of 17 undrafted free agents. The entire list is below:

With uncertainty surrounding Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs have been hunting for wide receiver help. They apparently focused in on Custis, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the team gave him more than $100K in guaranteed money. This is the highest guarantee for an undrafted receiver in at least the past two years. The Syracuse product had a breakout campaign during his senior season, hauling in 51 receptions for 906 yards and six touchdowns. The Chiefs ended up adding five undrafted receivers in total, and that’s in addition to second-round wideout Mecole Hardman.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter) that the team also gave pricey base guarantees to Thompson ($50K), Schumer ($67K), Harris ($50K), and Fox ($45K).

The Fox move is particularly interesting, as Dustin Colquitt has been a mainstay of the Chiefs punting unit since 2005. The 36-year-old had a career-low 45 punts in 2018, although he did manage to place 21 of those inside the 20. With Colquitt eyeing his 15th NFL season, the organization may simply be looking to provide the veteran with some competition.

It’s also notable that the Chiefs added three undrafted quarterbacks. The coaching staff will presumably let the rookies battle during the early parts of camp, with perhaps one of them joining EJ Manuel, Chad Henne, and Chase Litton for the backup quarterback competition.