Weather in the Bay Area has been rainy, wet, and cold for a few days now, but the AFC West is heating up.
Free agency is a week in, and the teams around the league have been feverish in their pursuit of the top players on the market. The Oakland Raiders haven’t been shy about acquiring free agent targets, and have added some quality players recently. Last season, the Silver and Black signed five free agents, and oh how things have changed.
A year later, the team has signed 14 free agents in seven days.
Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Reggie McKenzie have been hard at work assembling the roster of the future, as have the other front offices in the division.
Let’s take a look at what our opponents have pieced together thus far.
* Denver Broncos*
Last week the news of Trevor Siemian (traded to the Minnesota Vikings) and Aqib Talib’s (traded to the Los Angeles Rams) departures started circulating, as well as the Broncos free agent acquisition of quarterback Case Keenum. So far, Keenum seems to be the crown jewel of their free agent class, but the team has also tried to bolster its defense with the addition of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. The eight-year veteran has totaled 19 sacks, six fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and 248 tackles during his career.
According to Pro Football Focus, McDonald owns an overall 48.9 rating, which ranks 111th among all interior defensive lineman, but has a 74.7 pass defense rating that ranks in the top 40. Paired with pass rushers Von Miller and Derek Wolfe, we’ll see how McDonald meshes with the group.
* Kansas City Chiefs*
Aside from the Chiefs’ trade for wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the team has been relatively quiet throughout the first few waves of free agency. Since adding the fifth-year player, the Chiefs have brought in former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne to back up their new signal-caller Patrick Mahomes II, and added former Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Xavier Williams to their defensive front.
Henne hasn’t attempted a pass since 2014, a season where he played three games, throwing for 492 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The former University of Michigan Wolverine has hung around in the NFL for nine years now, splitting time between the Miami Dolphins and the Jaguars. Mahomes is the clear-cut starter, but Henne is embracing his opportunity to help the youngster mature.
* Los Angeles Chargers*
Phillip Rivers has a new teammate snapping the ball to him, and his name is Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey is a three-time Pro Bowler, and has become a quality starter in the NFL. In 2017, the Chargers offensive line allowed a league-low 18 sacks. According to PFF, Pouncey boasts a 71.8 pass block rating, which ranks 14th among all centers. The Bolts key to success starts with Rivers, and keeping him upright in the pocket. Rivers obviously has some help on the ground from running back Melvin Gordon, but the veteran signal-caller is known for heaving long balls and stretching the field. With the addition of his new center, Rivers should continue to feel comfortable in the pocket.