The initial wave of free agency has come and gone and we're starting to get a better sense of how all the teams across the league are going to look in 2021. In the AFC West, the Chiefs still remain the top dog and were on the doorstep of a second straight Super Bowl title last season, but this division could start to get more competitive in a hurry. The Chargers' future is looking bright after the extremely successful rookie campaign by quarterback Justin Herbert. Meanwhile, both the Raiders and Broncos have flashed potential and will be looking to take another step forward next year.
Of course, no matter how successful or unsuccessful any team in this division was in 2020, there were plenty of holes that needed to be filled on each roster this offseason. One of the more universal themes that we saw when it comes to the AFC West in particular this free agent cycle revolved around the offensive line. Below you'll get a breakdown of those moves and more like them as we grade each team in the division on how they fared during free agency.
Kansas City Chiefs
Key additions/re-signings: OG Joe Thuney, OG Kyle Long, DE Taco Charlton, WR Demarcus Robinson, OT Mike Remmers, OL Andrew Wylie
Key subtractions: OT Eric Fisher, OT Mitchell Schwartz, RB Damien Williams (Bears), RB Anthony Sherman (retirement)
Kansas City let go of two key fixtures along the offensive line in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher earlier this offseason, but was able to make a big splash by signing guard Joe Thuney, who was considered to be the top interior lineman on the market. Thuney brings some strong versatility along the Chiefs O-line as he's shown the ability to play multiple positions. The team also lured Kyle Long out of retirement to help bolster the unit and re-signed Mike Remmers and Adnrews Wylie as well. With those figures along with the return of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang -- two linemen who opted out of 2020 -- the Chiefs offensive line should be far improved from what we saw in Super Bowl LV. Protecting Patrick Mahomes should be priority No. 1 for the club and so far they've done a strong job of just that during this first wave of free agency. Had they been successful swinging a deal for Trent Williams, they'd be looking at an A+.
Las Vegas Raiders
Key additions/re-signings: WR John Brown, RB Kenyan Drake, DE Yannick Ngakoue, DT Quinton Jefferson, OL Richie Incognito, C Nick Martin, DL Solomon Thomas
Key subtractions: OT Trent Brown (trade with Patriots), C Rodney Hudson (trade with Cardinals), OL Gabe Jackson (trade with Seahawks), WR Nelson Agholor (Patriots), WR Tyrell Williams (Lions), DB Lamarcus Joyner (Jets)
The Raiders were a bit perplexing this free agency. On the one hand, the additions of Yannick Ngakoue, Kenyan Drake, Solomon Thomas and others are pretty intriguing and provide solid upside heading into next season. That said, there seemed to be a mass exodus along the offensive line, which was previously a great strength of theirs. Trent Brown's departure makes sense as it felt like he was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole throughout his tenure in Vegas, but Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson were a surprise in my eyes. I'll be curious to see how Jon Gruden constructs his O-line and how Drake in particular pairs with current starting running back Josh Jacobs.
Los Angeles Chargers
Key additions/re-signings: C Corey Linsley, TE Jared Cook, OT Matt Feiler, CB Michael Davis, K Michael Badgley
Key subtractions: TE Hunter Henry (Patriots), ILB Denzel Perryman (Panthers), OLB Nick Vigil (Vikings), S Rayshawn Jenkins (Jaguars), Dan Feeney (Jets), OT Sam Tevi (Colts)
Similar to the Chiefs, the Chargers' top priority is to build a wall around reigning Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert to keep him protected as he continues to ascend into a promising NFL career. Los Angeles did that by signing 2020 first-team All-Pro center Corey Linsley to a deal at the start of free agency along with O-lineman Matt Feiler, who has shown the ability to play both guard and tackle. While losing Hunter Henry was a tough blow to the passing game, Jared Cook is a solid veteran replacement at the tight end spot and should be a solid safety valve for Herbert. Bringing back corner Michael Davis was also a savvy move, especially after cutting ties with Casey Hayward.
Key additions/re-signings: S Justin Simmons, OLB Von Miller, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Ronald Darby, DE Shelby Harris
Key subtractions: RB Phillip Lindsay (Texans), OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Bears), OL Elijah Wilkinson (Bears)
The Broncos didn't exactly come out of the gate with ferocity, but the club has made a number of strong moves that should have them much improved in 2021, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The club made Justin Simmons the highest-paid safety in the NFL, inking him to a contract extension after they deployed the franchise tag. Elsewhere in the secondary they signed Ronald Darby to a contract and quickly jumped on corner Kyle Fuller once he became available following his release from the Bears. Fuller could be an intriguing pairing in Denver's secondary as he's now reunited with coach Vic Fangio, who was his defensive coordinator during his best days in Chicago. Keeping Shelby Harris was also an underrated move in my mind as well.
The only move that you can really quibble with is picking up Von Miller's option for 2021 that includes a base salary of $17.5 million and features a $22.2 million cap hit. That's way too steep for Miller at this stage of his career, but it's also understandable why Denver would want to keep one of its faces of the franchise.