The Las Vegas Raiders were quite active this past free agency, but was that enough to take over the AFC West? How well does the Silver and Black match up against the rest of the division?
In the last decade, the Raiders have seen the Chiefs, the Chargers and the Broncos taking turns winning the division, and the last time they came out at the top of the AFC West was back in 2001, but that could be changing soon.
Ever since head coach Jon Gruden arrived, he has undone the work put in place by the previous administration and systematically albeit slowly build the foundation of a perennial contender. Alas, they haven’t finished yet, and last season, Kansas City took the Super Bowl home while the Raiders watched from home.
This offseason, general manager Mike Mayock has been aggressive and has added many players that will have key roles in the upcoming season without putting the team on a financial burden, but he wasn’t the only AFC West executive that looked for means to improve their franchise.
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Without further ado, let’s see how the Raiders against the rest of the AFC West:
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2019 Record: 12-4
Division Standing: 6-0 (1st)
Biggest FA Additions: T Mike Remmers, RB DeAndre Washington
Major Offseason Losses: LB Reggie Ragland, RB Lesean McCoy, QB Matt Moore
As long as the the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, they have a chance to repeat and make a deep playoff run. Their wide receiver corps, led by Tyreek Hill is second to none in the NFL and can light up the scoreboard in a beat. Their biggest lost this offseason has been Moore, who was competent enough to keep the team afloat while Mahomes was injured.
They didn’t add many players in free agency as they’re currently cash strap but applied the franchise tag to defensive centerpiece Chris Jones. With Tom Brady leaving the Patriots, the road to the Super Bowl, not just the AFC West, will likely run through Kansas City.Â
2. Las Vegas Raiders
2019 Record: 7-9
Division Standing: 3-3 (3rd)
Biggest FA Additions: LB Cory Littleton, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, DT Maliek Collins, DE Carl Nassib, S Jeff Heath, TE Jason Witten
Major Offseason Losses: LB Tahir Whitehead, S Karl Joseph
After many years of futility, it has taken a while for the Raiders to build a good team. Last year, the team drafted running back Josh Jacobs, and put together a good tight end group. Likewise, the team finally addressed their linebacker corps and their defensive line, led by Maxx Crosby, could become one of the best in the league.
It’s now up to Derek Carr to show his 2016 MVP-like season wasn’t a fluke and take the next step in the quarterback echelon. It could be argued the team hadn’t surrounded him with talent but soon that excuse will no longer hold true as the front office is adding as many difference makers as they can in both the offense and defense.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
2019 Record: 5-11
Division Standing: 0-6
Biggest FA Additions: G Trai Turner, OT Bryan Bulaga, CB Chris Harris
Major Offseason Loses: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, S Adrian Phillips, WR Travis Benjamin, TE Antonio Gates
2019 wasn’t the Chargers year and even though they parted ways with many of their most recognizable players, most of them were contributing on a constant basis anymore and that includes Gordon, who saw his role go to Austin Ekeler in 2019. Gates retired and Rivers moved to Indianapolis but their best years were already behind them even before last season started so most of their offseason loses are an addition subtraction kind of thing.
It’s now up to incumbent Tyrod Taylor, whom his coaches trust in, to lead an offensive attack behind a revamped offseason line that will feature Bulaga and Turner. The defensive should be its old stingy self with the addition of Harris, who will play opposite of Casey Howard while Joey Bosa leads their defensive line.
Who’s at the bottom of the AFC West?
4. Denver Broncos
2019 Record: 7-9
Division Standing: 3-3 (2nd)
Biggest FA Additions:Â RB Melvin Gordon,Â
Major Offseason Loses:Â The Broncos actually had a better record than Los Angeles last season, but Drew Lock is an uncertain commodity at this point of his career. It’s true that Denver won four games and lost one when he took over the team, but the signal-caller still has a long way to go towards becoming a steady quarterback year in and year out. Until he proves he’s the team’s franchise quarterback, the Broncos will have to pave the way for their more complete AFC West counterparts.
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