State of the Division: The AFC West

After already taking a look at the NFC West, it’s time to turn to their AFC counterparts, the AFC West. The AFC West made two of the earliest splash moves of the offseason. The Raiders signing Jon Gruden to a lifetime, 50 kajillion dollar contract ahead of their Vegas move. Not to be outdone, the Chiefs traded Alex Smith from one Native Americans as a Mascot team to another. Also, the Chargers and Broncos exist! They all did things because that’s what the owners pay front offices to do. What did they do, and where do they stand heading into the NFL Draft? Let’s find out.

 

The Denver Broncos
The Broncos won the Case Keenum Sweepstakes. The Case Keenum that was on the Broncos two years ago but couldn’t make the team out of camp. They paid him $25 million guaranteed. I made that stuff that he was with the Broncos two years ago up, but he’s had such an unheralded career so far that you weren’t 100% sure if I was wrong or you were. Keenum is the Broncos’ savior, and basically had to move one of the league’s best corners, Aqib Talib, to make that low-ceiling, low-floor signing work. John Elway made a couple of trades during the Trade Tsunami that overtook the league, getting Jared Veldheer (old and broken) and Su’a Cravens (tried to retire before last year). They lost Peyton Manning immediately after their Super Bowl, and they haven’t found him in Case Keenum.

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The Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs turned over a new leaf, moving on from Alex Smith, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali this Spring. They snagged Kyle Fuller, one of the best slot corners in the NFL and are turning the keys to the offense over to Pat Mahomes. Mahomes will have not only Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce at his disposal, but the Chiefs also snagged Sammy Watkins in free agency. Chiefs fans are super-hyped because they think that having a good (but limited) quarterback is bad and turning the franchise over to a young, strong-armed phenom is a great call. I can’t say that I agree with that, but it will at least be fun.

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The Los Angeles Chargers
In a technical sense, the Los Angeles Chargers have made free agency moves. Technically, they signed Geno Smith and technically they signed Mike Pouncey and Jaylen Watkins and Caleb Sturgis and a bunch of other borderline inconsequential players. In reality, however, they did a whole lot of treading water. They are hoping that their historically terrible close game luck will turn around and get them into the division lead. With the rest of the teams in the AFCW basically falling apart around them, is it standing pat and inaction or laying in wait for their moment in the sun?

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The Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have done a lot this offseason. Not all of it great. In fact, most of it is not great. A ton of it is Jon Gruden acquiring players who were good in 2012. Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, and Marshawn Lynch will go alongside Amari Cooper as the focal point of the offense. The Raiders are also the likely destination for Eric Decker’s services. Jon Gruden also said that he wants to run the team like it’s 1998 again.

Overall, the Raiders fan base is looking like the latest Sponge Bob meme now that they’ve finally gotten the head coach back that they’ve been screaming about for like a decade. Unfortunately, nobody knows what is going on inside Gruden’s noggin, other than he’s hoping to recreate his best time in Oakland. Maybe Mark Davis hopes Oakland runs the Raiders out of town on a rail to make the break up easier?

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