Free Agency Grades: AFC West
Written By: Nate Bouda April 5, 2012
Additions: QB Peyton Manning, CB Tracy Porter, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme, LB Joe Mays (R), K Matt Prater (F), QB Caleb Hanie, WR Andre Caldwell, S Mike Adams
Subtractions: DT Brodrick Bunkley, QB Tim Tebow (T), WR Eddie Royal
Here we get to talk a little bit about Peyton Manning. Itís more than apparent that adding Manning would allow them to get out from under Tebowmania circus, but they also added a dynamic player that has the ability to make up for a number of the teamsí offensive deficiencies, which was evident by the Colts terrible 2011 season without him. Manningís health will ultimately dictate the success of this move, but I canít say that it really hurt the team. Signing both Joel Dreessen and TE Jacob Tamme was a very savvy move on the part of the Broncos. Both of them are underrated talents that just happen to be good at receiving and blocking and they also bring some versatility to Denverís offense. I really donít like the additions of Tracy Porter, Andre Caldwell and Caleb Hanie though. Porter has bad cover skills, but hopefully that will be mitigated by the play of Champ Bailey. God forbid Hanie sees any action next season and Caldwell was rated #111 out #115 receivers last year by Pro Football Focus. S Mike Adams could end up being a good pickup for their secondary
Getting a fourth-round draft pick in return for Tim Tebow is acceptable. Losing Brodrick Bunkley, despite the fact that DT was already a need with him, really hurts. Bunkley is solid player that should really help out the Saints. I canít see how the Broncos will be able to pass on DT at #25, especially if Michael Brockers is available.
Kansas City Chiefs
Additions: WR Dwayne Bowe (F), OT Eric Winston, RB Peyton Hillis, CB Stanford Routt, TE Kevin Boss, LB Jovan Belcher (R), Brady Quinn
Subtractions: CB Brandon Carr, QB Kyle Orton
The Kansas City Chiefs entered offseason with two obvious players that they had to address in Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr, but even before the start of the free agency period, they signed CB Stanford Routt.
Kansas City maintained that they wanted to keep Carr despite the addition of Routt, but they never made a strong effort keep him. Carr is younger and has better upside, but Routt is definitely a serviceable player in his own right. Instead of committing to a five-year, $50.1 million contract like the Cowboys did, they got Routt for a reasonable three-year, $18 million contract that includes $6 million guaranteed. If Routt can limit the penalties in the coming yearís heíll be a great addition. Franchising Bowe is a no-brainer as heís by far their best receiving option, and his loss would have placed a lot of pressure on Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston. Re-signing him will still be an issue, but at least they have some time to work with. Eric Winston qualifies as one of my favorite moves of the offseason. Thereís no way that the Texans were comfortable releasing him, and it just so happens that he fits one of the Chiefs biggest needs. Winston has the ability to be a Top 10 OT in the league and it only cost them $22 million for four-years. Peyton Hillis and Kevin Boss are decent moves but only because they limited their financial obligations to both players.
Keeping Kyle Orton would have been great because they would have had a solid backup QB in case something happened to Matt Cassel. Brady Quinn is largely unproven and the Chiefs know that, which is why rumors keep circulating that their considering drafting another QB. Once again, you donít want to lose a young CB like Carr, but keeping him was going to be very pricey. I canít blame them for finding a more reasonable option.
San Diego Chargers
Additions: WR Robert Meachem, OT Jared Gaither (R), C Nick Hardwick (R), LB Jarret Johnson, WR Eddie Royal, QB Charlie Whitehurst, WR Roscoe Parrish, DE Luis Castillo (R), LeíRon McClain
Subtractions: WR Vincent Jackson, OT Marcus McNeill, RB Mike Tolbert, QB Billy Volek, S Steve Gregory
While Vincent Jackson has been great player for the Chargers the last few years, he may not be as big of a loss as it my seem initially. Jacksonís an incredible deep-threat, but he really needs to work on his route-running. Robert Meachem, on the other hand, is a well rounded receiver thatís a decent blocker and should be consistent receiving option for Phillip Rivers. I canít say that heíll be the game-changer that Jackson was at times, but I really donít him seem being that bad in the Chargers offense. San Diego was able to retain OT Jared Gaither and C Nick Hardwick which should help to stabilize their unit a bit. If the San Diego can use Jarret Johnson like the Ravens have in yearís past, then he should be solid addition. Johnson will be 31 at the start of the 2012 season, but provides plenty of versatility to a poor defensive front-seven. It will be interesting to see if either Eddie Royal or Roscoe Parrish can have an impact in the teamsí offense next season.
As Iíve already mentioned, losing Jackson changes their offense a bit, but not being on the hook for the $55 million that the Buccaneers gave him could be beneficial assuming that A.J. Smith is able to add some much needed talent to their offensive line, and defense. They seem to be willing to use LeíRon McClain at RB, much the same way that they used Mike Tolbert last season. Whether or not heíll be as effective remains to be seen. He almost ran for a 1000 yards years ago, but he hasnít seen a lot of carries since. Iím not sure Charlie Whitehurst is much of an improvement over Billy Volek, but he never played anyways.
Additions: S Tyvon Branch (F), CB Ron Bartell, CB Shawntae Spencer, G Mike Brisiel, G Cooper Carlisle (R), OT Khalif Barnes (R)
Subtractions: LB Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt, RB Michael Bush, DT John Henderson, QB Jason Campbell, TE Kevin Boss, C Samson Satele, DE Trevor Scott
All of the Raiders decisions were actually very logical, but itís hard to give a team a good grade when they lose as much talent as they have so far.
Tyvon Branch has been the top priority of their offseason and recent reports have mentioned that theyíre currently working on a long-term agreement with him. He could end up being a game-changing talent but still needs some time to develop. Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are a far cry from Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt, but hopefully they can give them at least one serviceable year. Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes arenít very, but Mike Brisiel was a good addition for them.
Itís really amazing to see just how bad things were for the Raiders in terms of their financial situation. Itís almost unimaginable to think that a team would cut Kamerion Wimbley and Stanford Routt one year after they signed both of them to long-term deals, but thatís exactly what they were forced to do. Neither player is going to be easily replaced, especially when you consider that the Raiders have basically no draft picks to work with this year. Thankfully, they got a 3rd rounder for Nnamdi. The Bears signed both Michael Bush and Jason Campbell, and the Raiders responded by trading for Mike Goodson, who could actually see a decent amount of playing time next season. Kevin Boss wasnít outstanding but his replacement, Brandon Myers, is hardly an inspiring option for them.
The good news is that can now begin the process of building a sustainable franchise, even though thatís probably going to take a number of years.