NFL

AFC West Free Agency Grades

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“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

We’re through one week of free agency and there have been too many moves to count (that’s why you should check out our Free Agency Diary).

There are still some moves to make, but we’re going to grade the teams on what they’ve done during the first two weeks.

Denver Broncos: D

The defending Super Bowl champs were hit hard in free agency, as they lost defensive starters Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan.  In a cost-cutting move, they released guard Louis Vasquez and tight end Owen Daniels.

The biggest loss was probably quarterback Brock Osweiler, who the team wasn’t prepared to move on from.

What keeps the Broncos from getting a grade of “F” is that they knew that they wouldn’t be able to keep all of their free agents and they did manage to hold onto their most important player, linebacker Von Miller.

In somewhat of a desperation move, John Elway traded for Mark Sanchez, who at the very worst gives them a starting quarterback with a few years of experience and has taken a team to the AFC Championship Game.  They also rebuilt their offensive line by signing offensive tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson.

The Broncos are considerably worse right now than they were a month ago, and they are no longer favorites in their division, must less the AFC.

Kansas City Chiefs: B

How can the Chiefs lose starting cornerback Sean Smith, backup quarterback Chase Daniel and right tackle Donald Stephenson, and still get a grade of “B”?

They had so many choices to make in free agency, and they did a fantastic job of keeping together most of their core. After franchising safety Eric Berry, the Chiefs were able to come to terms with defensive end Tamba Hali, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, linebacker Derrick Johnson and outside linebacker/special teams ace Frank Zombo.

That alone would have made for a pretty productive class, but they added right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is an upgrade over Stephenson.

The Chiefs certainly lost some depth over the past two weeks, but considering all that they could have lost you’d have to consider Kansas City as winners.

Oakland Raiders: A-

The Oakland Raiders had a lot of money to spend and they addressed some major needs.  They fortified the offensive line with former Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele while re-signing left tackle Donald Penn.  To team up with Pro Bowl pass rusher Khalil Mack, the Raiders came to terms with former Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin.  They hurt the Chiefs by signing away cornerback Sean Smith and also managed to retain wide receiver Andre Holmes.

Oakland only lost center Tony Bergstrom and right tackle Ja’Marcus Webb, so it was certainly a net gain.

The Raiders appear ready to compete for the AFC West title, assuming that Derek Carr can put together another productive season.

Along with Jacksonville, Oakland is one of the most improved teams in the NFL (on paper) in free agency.

San Diego Chargers: B+

As we’ve discussed earlier, the San Diego Chargers made several shrewd moves in free agency.

San Diego inked former Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward to play opposite rising star Jason Verrett. The team also signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns), nose tackle Brandon Mebane (Seattle Seahawks) and free safety Dwight Lowery (Indianapolis Colts), and retained tackle Joe Barksdale, tight end Antonio Gates, quarterback Kellen Clemens, defensive tackle Damion Square, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman and offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins.

Benjamin gives them a speedy threat to play opposite route technician Keenan Allen, and he helps considerably in the return game, where the Chargers were terrible last year.

The team lost Eric Weddle, which was expected after the late season issues he had with ownership.  The let Ladarius Green walk to Pittsburgh, and that might be a bigger gain for the Steelers than it is a loss for San Diego.  He never really put it together for anything more than flashes.

Although they lost a couple bigger names, the Chargers found good fits to their team and should be considerably better in 2016.

AFC East Free Agency Grades

AFC North Free Agency Grades

AFC South Free Agency Grades


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.