The NFL Scouting Combine is coming up next week and teams are preparing for this important date on the pre-draft calendar. It’s a huge offseason for the Broncos, and one I’ve called the most important of John Elway’s career as general manager.
The Broncos have the rare intersection of a plethora of draft picks (as many as 12), plenty of salary cap space ($60-90 million) and a starting quarterback on a rookie contract. With the right moves in free agency and the draft, the Broncos could be back in the playoff conversation.
Denver’s division is full of tough teams who could all make a run at the playoffs in 2020, as well. Oh yeah, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are the team to beat in the entire league and the Broncos have to play them twice a year. It’s incredibly vital that the Broncos make up ground on the Chiefs, while also trying to distance themselves from the Raiders and Chargers.
Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are going to see their roster change after winning the Super Bowl. As the defending champions, Kansas City will see other teams in the league make a big run at their free agents in hopes of boosting their own team, while also decimating the Chiefs roster. In addition to losing players, the Chiefs had a chance to lose an important coach on their staff this week.
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was perhaps the favorite choice for the University of Colorado to take over head coaching duties after Mel Tucker left for Michigan State. Bieniemy was a star running back with the Buffaloes back in the early 1990s and won a national championship with the Buffs. He already had a short stint as the offensive coordinator for the Buffs under former head coach Jon Embree, but that only lasted two seasons.
Bieniemy has reportedly turned down the offer from the Buffaloes to be their head coach. As the OC for the Chiefs, Bieniemy is on the fast track to be a head coach in the NFL. I’m sure that’s where he’s focused and should get his chance after the 2020 season.
Las Vegas Raiders
We got some interesting news last week from long-time sports reporter Larry Fitzgerald Sr., having to do with the Raiders and their pursuit of quarterback Tom Brady. According to Fitzgerald, the Raiders are prepared to offer Brady a two-year, $60 million deal if he becomes a free agent.
It’s going to take quite the haul to lure Brady away from the Patriots, but the Raiders seem intent on making the best offer they possibly can. Brady can work with the Patriots before the start of the new league year to get a new contract done. If the price tag wasn’t so high, then perhaps the two sides could come to an agreement that keeps Brady in New England.
However, this type of run from the Raiders – the type of splash they need going to Vegas – is perhaps too much for the Patriots to put on the books. The new league year starts less a month from now, and it will be interesting to see if Brady actually hits the open market.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are potentially in the quarterback market this offseason as they look to replace long-time starter Philip Rivers. They might also be in the market for a new starting left tackle.
Chargers left tackle (and former Bronco) Russell Okung told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he “remains skeptical of the team’s direction and his future with the team.” The veteran tackle is uncertain in the direction of the team as he enters the final year of his contract. He has a cap hit of $15.5 million in 2020, but there is only $2.5 million remaining in dead money on his deal.
It remains to be seen if Okung would request a trade just to get away from the situation. The Chargers seem to be a dysfunctional organization, one that is now seeking a leader with the loss of Rivers. Okung doesn’t have much leverage as his play has declined over the last year or so. However, teams are always looking for help at left tackle so there might be a better market for his services if the Chargers want to put him on the trade block.