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Around the AFC West: Big offseason moves loom in the division

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day. Certainly, the NFL is getting a lot of love after the Super Bowl and football fans across the globe are getting ready for the NFL Draft. The next stop on the draft calendar is the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that starts in 10 days.

This offseason is chock full of so many storylines – and many of the top stories have a connection to the Broncos division. The three main competitors for the Broncos are going to look much different in some cases when the 2020 season begins. This offseason will bring about those changes that must be monitored by the Broncos.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and they will be paying him a hefty contract very soon. Patrick Mahomes’ most-likely window for a contract extension is sometime after the NFL Draft, according to people I talk to around the building.

The Chiefs only have around $14 million in cap space at this time. That’s barely enough to pay for their 2020 draft class, let alone pay out a contract to Mahomes that pays him around $40 million annually.

Mahomes can basically write his own paycheck after winning Super Bowl LIV and earning MVP honors in the game. The price tag is likely to only go up – way up – if the Chiefs wait to get a deal done with the young superstar. The Chiefs have Mahomes under contract for two more seasons (he has a fifth-year option for 2021 season), but getting a deal done sooner rather than later would be wise. That time to get a deal done might be well after free agency and even after the 2020 NFL Draft.

Either way, Mahomes isn’t going anywhere. The Broncos are going to have to deal with this superstar for around the next decade.

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Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders might be in the quarterback market this offseason. Their top target may be superstar Tom Brady, as he is likely to hit the open market for the first time in his career. The Patriots would avoid a $13.5 million cap hit if they are able to extend Brady before the March 18 deadline. Brady will not be able to negotiate with outside teams by that time, so we have a deadline for the Patriots to get a deal done.

No matter what happens with Brady, the Raiders offense may continue flowing through running back Josh Jacobs. In 2019, Jacobs was the highest-graded rookie running back in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

I don’t need advanced statistics to know that Jacobs is one of the best young running backs in the league today. Jacobs runs with a blend of power and speed, and he can grind down a defense as the game goes on. The AFC West is going to be filled with some high-flying offenses if the Chargers and Broncos score more points in 2020. The Raiders may be taking an “old school” approach with their offense.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves veteran quarterbacks, and that’s one of the many reasons why Brady is high on their wish list. Any quarterback addition – or even sticking with Derek Carr – is not going to change the Raiders philosophy on offense.

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Los Angeles Chargers

The Philip Rivers era is over with the Chargers after 16 seasons, and now the team is in the market for a new starting quarterback. Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor could earn the starting spot for the 2020 season, according to head coach Anthony Lynn.

“Tyrod Taylor is a heck of a quarterback,” Lynn told AM 570 LA Sports. “We couldn’t have a better backup right now, and now he has an opportunity to maybe step up into a starting role. I’ve had Tyrod before (in Buffalo), and I know what this young man brings to the table, in the passing game and the running game.”

For three seasons with the Bills (2015-17), Taylor put up good numbers as the starting quarterback. In each one of those seasons, Taylor had around 3,000 yards passing while also rushing for around 500 yards. He barely turns the ball over as a starter and can easily execute in the run-heavy offense that Lynn wants to put together.

The NFL has changed since Taylor was the starter. Mobile quarterbacks are en vogue in today’s NFL, and the Chargers might have a better starter already on the roster than some think. I still believe the Chargers will select a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, perhaps even in the first round. However, that doesn’t mean Taylor won’t get a chance to be the starter at least at the beginning of the 2020 season.

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