The 2019 NFL free agency period should be a wild ride across the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs will look to replace Kareem Hunt, while the Oakland Raiders could unload a haul of draft picks for superstar players. Here’s a free agent preview for all four clubs in the AFC West.
Kansas City Chiefs
Free Agents: When you have Patrick Mahomes at QB and Tyreek Hill at WR, the RB position tends to be a bit devalued. Sure, Hunt was dynamic when he was in the Kansas City backfield, but the team’s offense didn’t really miss him after his abrupt release during the season. So, it will be interesting to watch the Chiefs’ approach to free agency since backups Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are also set to hit the market. LB Dee Ford will receive the franchise tag, meaning WR Chris Conley and K Harrison Butker should receive more than one-year deals.
Possible Targets: Even if the RB isn’t the most important position in the KC offense, it would be no surprise to see management try to add another weapon. That was the approach last year, as the team spent big for Sammy Watkins, and the on-field results determined it was definitely worth it. The Chiefs have been rumored as a possible suitor for Le’Veon Bell. The former Steelers RB would relish the opportunity to play with Mahomes, but will KC be willing to match the large offers Bell is likely to receive in free agency?
Los Angeles Chargers
Free Agents: The Los Angeles Chargers already made one tough decision to not exercise the option on DT Corey Liuget. Although productive, Los Angeles deemed Liuget’s $9.5 million cap hit too much for the 2019 season. Another tough decision lies with free agent WR Tyrell Williams, who will be high on many teams’ lists if he hits the open market. The 26-year-old wideout has all the tools in the world, but has underwhelmed after putting up career-high 69 receptions, 1,059 yards and seven TDs two seasons ago. Regardless, losing Williams would be a huge loss for this offense.
Possible Targets: Putting Ndamukong Suh between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram would instantly give Los Angeles the best defensive line in football. Suh is a better player than Liuget, but if the price tag is really the biggest issue here, look for the Chargers to simply go younger and cheaper at the position. TE Antonio Gates has an expired contract, but says he’s not ready to hang it up. It would be foolish to bet against another Chargers-Gates reunion next season.
Free Agents: Denver has an under-the-radar free agent in C Matt Paradis. John Elway has already stated he’d like the veteran back, and contracts talks have reportedly begun for both sides. The 28-year-old would have plenty of suitors if he hit free agency. Beyond that, the Broncos look to be moving on from the disappointing former first-round pick, LB Shane Ray. DB Bradley Roby is asking for $10 million per year, so his request may be a bit too rich for Denver. Elway would be wise to find a cheaper option on the open market.
Possible Targets: Plenty of talented DBs could be found for short-term deals, if the Broncos choose that route. 25-year-old Ronald Darby is the most talented defensive back without a contract. Plus, he could come cheap considering his injury history. Morris Claiborne and E.J. Gaines have been productive players throughout their careers. A prove-it deal could work well for either or both players come free agency.
Free Agents: The Oakland Raiders will be the most fascinating team to monitor this offseason, besides the Steelers, of course. What will Jon Gruden do with all three of his first-round picks? Will he use them all or deal one or two for a player like Antonio Brown? Rumors emerged over the weekend that the team was gauging trade interest for QB Derek Carr. With TE Jared Cook and RB Marshawn Lynch potentially headed to free agency, can Oakland expect any familiar faces in the huddle next season?
Possible Targets: Cook is unquestionably the best free agent in the TE class. If the pass-catching machine latches on with a new team, Gruden could search for another veteran presence at the position. Tyler Eifert and Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be fits. Oakland could use one of their top picks on a TE as well. The Raiders have been connected to Bell for months. Bell and Brown suiting up as teammates again in Oakland seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be the craziest thing the Raiders have done lately.
Check back for more NFL division previews as free agency approaches!