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Around the AFC West: Cap issues and jockeying for the right QB

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Things in the sports world are frozen as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, but the NFL continues on with business as usual as much as possible. The new league year started a few weeks ago and free agency is still in motion. There are a few big-name players who have yet to find a new home, and free agents signed earlier this year are now becoming official.

The Broncos are staying busy in looking at free agency and trades, but they are also in the process of finalizing their draft board. The 2020 NFL Draft is still going to take place as planned, in terms of date, on April 23-25.

Not only are the Broncos deep in preparations for the draft, the rest of the division is working diligently to get ready, as well. Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

It was shocking when Field Yates, from ESPN, tweeted out salary cap space and the Chiefs were at the bottom with only $177 remaining. That’s right, the Chiefs have less than $200 in salary cap space.

The team hasn’t done much in free agency because they simply can’t afford to move any moves. They were able to put the franchise tag on defensive tackle Chris Jones, however, which would give him a $16.1 million number on the cap for 2020. The two sides are working to get a long-term deal done, and Jones has not signed his tender.

In addition to Jones, the Chiefs were able to keep unrestricted free agent wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. He received a one-year deal, but financial terms were not released. The Chiefs obviously don’t have any money to sign a rookie class (approximately $10 million), so expect them to start trimming the roster or re-working contracts to get enough room to do that in the near future.

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Las Vegas Raiders

Even though they have Derek Carr on the roster, the Raiders went out in free agency and signed Marcus Mariota to a contract. It appears their work on quarterbacks is not yet done as they are interviewing some of the top players in the draft this week. Las Vegas has the No. 12 overall pick in the draft and could be adding a rookie passer to the mix at that spot.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is scheduled for a video conference with Raiders representation Monday, March 30. Herbert is a big, strong-armed quarterback who sees the field well and can make any throw required in the NFL. He does struggle somewhat with short-to-intermediate passes and needs to improve his pass placement on those type of throws. Herbert loves to attack downfield and that should continue in his pro career.

In addition to Herbert, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love also participated in a pr-draft video meeting with the Raiders. Love is almost perfect when it comes to mechanics as a passer. He sets up well, steps into this throws and will challenge the deep seams of a defense as much as possible. Love is athletic and can keep plays alive with his feet while keeping his eyes downfield.

When throwing on the run, Love does a good job of keeping the ball away from defenders on the pass play. Love needs to cut down on the mistakes that he made as a senior with the Aggies, but he also lost nine starters on offense, his head coach and his quarterbacks coach before the 2019 season. He may have the biggest upside of any passer in this draft class.

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Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers also met with Herbert and Love via video conference as they prepare for the draft. With the No. 6 overall pick, Los Angeles would be in position for Love at least, but Herbert may be off the board by the time their pick comes around.

They’re interviewing these rookie prospects while also insisting that Tyrod Taylor is going to be the starter for the 2020 season. If they add Love or Herbert, Taylor would be the starter – for now – while the rookie is groomed to take over ASAP behind him.

Chargers center Mike Pouncey (neck) is expected to be medically cleared by the time football activities begin, according to head coach Anthony Lynn. In early October of the 2019 season, the Chargers had to put Pouncey on season-ending Injured Reserve with this neck injury. The injury was career-threatening and he’s not in the clear just yet.

The Chargers made moves to upgrade their offensive line with right tackle Bryan Bulaga and right guard Trai Turner added to the roster. Getting Pouncey, a 30-year old All-Pro, back in the starting lineup would be a huge boost for the team.