AFC West Update: Breaking down the free agency signings around the division

The Oakland Raiders made a big splash earlier this week by trading for All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, and followed it up by signing tackle Trent Brown, wide receiver Tyrell Williams, and safety Lamarcus Joyner. Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock have done an excellent job getting premier talent in the building, and while they’ve been active participants in free agency, so has the rest of the AFC West.

Here’s a free agency edition of the AFC West Update:

Denver Broncos

For the most part, the Denver Broncos – outside of the Raiders – have been the mostactive in free agency, but they’ve also let a lot of players walk. We’ve watched the “No Fly Zone” deteriorate over the last couple years after the departures of cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive back T.J. Ward, but another member has now fallen. NFL Network’s James Palmer reported Tuesday the Broncos would be moving on from Bradley Roby, and he would sign a one-year deal with the Houston Texans. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is the only remaining member of the “No Fly Zone,” and he will become a free agent next offseason.

In addition to Roby, the team lost a key member of the offense in center Matt Paradis. The former Boise State Bronco served as an anchor in the middle of the Broncos’ line since 2014, but he’ll now become a member of the Carolina Panthers. Between the coaching staff and the roster, the Broncos are experiencing a lot of turnover. Case Keenum has officially been traded to the Washington Redskins, and Joe Flacco’s trade from the Ravens to the Broncos has been made official as well. With so many changes to the team, it’ll be interesting to see what needs to Broncos address in the draft and beyond.

Kansas City Chiefs

It’s the end of an era in KC, as the team decided to part ways with veteran safety Eric Berry Wednesday afternoon. Berry has been a fixture in Kansas City since 2010, totaling 14 interceptions, five touchdowns, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, five-and-a-half sacks, and overcame a battle with cancer in 2015; however, after playing in only three games the past two years the two are going separate ways. There should be a market for Berry, but at 30 years old and with a laundry list of injuries, who knows where he’ll land. In place of Berry, the Chiefs signed All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mathieu was the top priority on the Chiefs’ wish list, and after their secondary struggled in 2018 this is a vast improvement.

The strong point on defense for the Chiefs a season ago was the pass rush, featuring Chris Jones, Dee Ford, and Justin Houston. Two of those three are gone now: Dee Ford was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, and Justin Houston was released, which is great news for Derek Carr.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Chiefs signed running back Carlos Hyde to try and fill the void left by Kareem Hunt. We know Patrick Mahomes can run up a scoreboard, but we’ll see how Andy Reid integrates Hyde into the offense. The former Ohio State Buckeye bounced around last year, making stops with the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it appears as though he’s found a new home.

Los Angeles Chargers

Of all the AFC West teams, the Bolts have been the quietest in free agency, but they’ve added some key playmakers to their roster. Philip Rivers has never missed a start and even at 37 years of age he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon; however, he – like every player in the NFL – is just one injury away from missing time, which prompted the Chargers to sign quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The dual-threat quarterback had some memorable years with the Buffalo Bills, but after suffering an injury early last season with the Cleveland Browns, and the emergence Baker Mayfield, Taylor was left on the sideline. Whether he gets the chance to play for the Chargers is doubtful, but if Rivers suffers an injury the team should feel comfortable putting Taylor under center.

Defensively, the Chargers re-signed nose tackle Brandon Mebane and added veteran linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis previously spent 13 years with the Carolina Panthers where he made three Pro Bowl appearances, was selected as a First-Team All-Pro in 2015, and totaled 13 interceptions, 1,111 tackles, 52 passes defensed, 18 forced fumbles, and 28 sacks during his time there. The Chargers have a lot of talented youth on the defensive side of the ball, so the addition of Davis might be to fill a leadership role.

The Chargers are a balanced team that look to be contenders in the AFC West once again next season.

Take a look at new Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams in action. Over his four-year career, Williams has appeared in 55 contests and made 37 starts, totaling 155 receptions for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdown receptions.

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