Four Downs
Offseason analysis of the NFL, division by division

Four Downs: AFC West

by Michael David Smith

All 31 teams that didn't win the Super Bowl are disappointed, to an extent, in the way their 2006 seasons turned out. But that's particularly true in the AFC West, where each of the four teams' seasons ended badly. The Broncos lost a Week 17 game that would have sent them to the playoffs. The Chiefs lost a playoff game when the running attack everyone thought would dominate ran into a brick wall. The Chargers were the league's best team in the regular season but lost their first playoff game. The Raiders were, well, the Raiders.

Let's turn our attention to how each team will cope going forward.

Denver Broncos

Mike Shanahan took a gamble on Jay Cutler, and it fell just short. Cutler, the Broncos' rookie quarterback, became the starter late in the year after Shanahan benched Jake Plummer, and he played approximately as well as Plummer did, which is to say, badly. Still, the Broncos nearly made the playoffs, and they'll be better off in the long run with Cutler having gained some experience. Benching Plummer was the right move, and if anything, Shanahan should have made his move sooner.

Shanahan has made a number of changes on his coaching staff, adding the well-regarded Jim Bates to run the defense and the equally well-regarded Scott O'Brien to run the special teams. He also hired a new linebackers coach, Joe Baker, and a new defensive line coach, Bill Johnson.

Who Could Leave?

For starters, Plummer will almost certainly be gone. Although he's still under contract to the Broncos, it makes no sense for either side to have Plummer stay. The most likely destination for Plummer would be the Houston Texans. Plummer worked with Houston coach Gary Kubiak in Denver, and the Texans are in the market for a quarterback after David Carr's struggles continued through 2006. A trade should happen before the draft.

Shanahan has said he is not going to break the bank to re-sign the team's top two free agents, defensive tackle Michael Myers and guard Cooper Carlisle. Although the offensive line would take a hit if it lost Carlisle, who has started every game the last two years, the Broncos are in good shape and will return almost all of their top players from 2006.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $7.6 million)

The death of Darrent Williams means cornerback is the team's biggest need, but the Broncos don't have the money available to sign a big-name corner. The draft might be the best way for the Broncos to improve their secondary.

There's been some speculation that the Broncos could sign Jeff Garcia as veteran insurance if Cutler struggles next year. Garcia has a wealth of experience in the offense Shanahan runs, but don't get too excited about Garcia. He had a few good games with the Eagles this season, but that followed many, many bad games with the 49ers, Browns, and Lions. It seems likely that the team that signs Garcia will end up regretting it.

The more likely scenario, though, is that as a team with very little cap space but a good deal of talent, the Broncos will focus mostly on developing the players they have and trying to make a playoff run with Cutler.

Kansas City Chiefs

It's still hard to believe how wrong we all were about what Larry Johnson would do against the Colts' defense. The Chiefs' season ended with a first-round playoff loss, which is a fine result for Herm Edwards' first year at the helm, but the way the loss went down is hard for Chiefs fans to stomach.

Who Could Leave?

By signing Tony Gonzalez to a long-term contract extension, the Chiefs kept the player they least wanted to lose. I think they paid too much for him, though. A contract with $18 million guaranteed is a lot for a tight end who turns 31 this month.

The Chiefs will probably keep either Trent Green or Damon Huard, but not both. All indications are that the Chiefs think Green is the better of the two. In my opinion, Huard is a better quarterback than Green and should have kept the starting job even after Green was healthy. I hope Huard starts somewhere in 2007; it's a shame that a talented player has had so few chances.

Defensive tackle Ryan Sims, whom the Chiefs traded up to acquire in the 2002 draft, will almost certainly be released. Sims has made about $25 million in his five seasons and was a major draft disappointment. Another disappointment, linebacker Kendrell Bell, has played badly since the Chiefs signed him as a free agent, but he might stay in Kansas City because it would cost the Chiefs more against their 2007 cap to cut him than to keep him.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $7 million)

Speaking of overpaid draft busts, the Chiefs brought in former Lions receiver Charles Rogers for a workout. What could possibly go wrong?

The Chiefs aren't in particularly good cap shape, and it's interesting to note that their best player, Larry Johnson, is also one of their lowest-paid. Johnson is scheduled to make just $850,000 in 2007. Somewhat surprisingly, Johnson has said publicly that he has no intention of making a stink about his contract. His predecessor, Priest Holmes, did exactly that and got a nice raise out of it, but Johnson, the son of a football coach, has always been a team-oriented guy and apparently doesn't want to make waves.

Overall, the Chiefs don't seem likely to be big players in the free-agent market.

Oakland Raiders

New head coach Lane Kiffin is both the youngest and the most inexperienced head coach in the NFL. Al Davis has a knack for picking good young coaches, but Kiffin has a tougher job on his hands than the previous young coaches Davis selected, John Madden, Mike Shanahan, and Jon Gruden. Kiffin has hired Greg Knapp as his offensive coordinator, and Knapp's offense in Atlanta didn't exactly set the world on fire the last three years. The best news for Kiffin is that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be back. Ryan has done great work in Oakland, and it's strange that he hasn't been offered a head-coaching job anywhere, but it's fair to say defense will continue to be the team's strength as long as Ryan is around.

Who Could Leave?

Receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter both seem to want out. Neither player has played anywhere near up to the level of his talent recently, and underachieving malcontents aren't exactly the types of players a new coach should want. The Raiders would be wise to grant Moss and Porter their wish.

The Raiders don't have any notable players whose contracts expire. Of course, they don't have many notable players, period.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $14.1 million)

The top priority has to be the offensive line, which was a nightmare in 2006. Bears guard Ruben Brown would be an intriguing choice. Although Brown is getting on in years, some veteran leadership is exactly what the Raiders' line needs. Then again, a lot of people thought a coach like Art Shell was exactly what the Raiders' line needed, and that didn't turn out so well.

Speedy free agent receiver Donte' Stallworth is the kind of player Al Davis likes to spend money on, and he'll be a strong possibility if Moss and Porter are gone. I think some team will overpay for Dominic Rhodes, and I could see Davis going in that direction, too.

But that's just the problem. The Raiders don't need to make a splash with a big-name skill position player, they need to beef up the offensive line, especially considering they'll want to protect the rookie quarterback they're likely to select with the first pick in the draft. Asking Kiffin to develop a quarterback behind last year's version of the Oakland line is asking him to work a miracle.

San Diego Chargers

Vegas has spoken, and the Chargers are the early favorites to win Super Bowl XLII. Marty Schottenheimer and most of the team will be back, so it's easy to see why the Chargers are thinking Super Bowl. But with both coordinators becoming head coaches elsewhere, Schottenheimer may need to become more of a hands-on head coach in 2007.

Who Could Leave?

Everyone is talking about restricted free agent running back Michael Turner, but I think the biggest off-season priority has to be re-signing guard Kris Dielman. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Dielman's agent and Chargers general manager A.J. Smith are "far apart in their figures," which isn't a good sign. On top of that, the Chargers seem to be floating the idea that Dielman should take less than market value for the opportunity to play on a team that has a good chance of getting to the Super Bowl. That's a sentiment that teams generally like a lot more than players and their agents do. It seems quite likely that the Chargers will be without Dielman's services next year, and that will be a loss for their offensive line.

As for Turner, he's a restricted free agent, meaning the Chargers will get draft picks as compensation if he leaves. Although the Chargers would miss him on kickoff returns, that's probably the best-case scenario for all involved. Turner is too talented a player to be stuck on the bench behind LaDainian Tomlinson, and Smith has a long track record of using his draft picks wisely.

One other player who's likely to leave is defensive back Terrence Kiel. Smith has said he considers it shameful that the Chargers have been compared to the Bengals because of a variety of off-field incidents, and Kiel's legal problems make him the type of player the Chargers don't want around.

Whom Should They Sign?
(Projected Cap Space: $24.6 million)

It's amazing that such a good team has so much cap space, and it says a lot about Smith. The Chargers should use most of that money to upgrade their run defense. It's unclear whether the departure of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips also means the departure of the 3-4 defense, but an intriguing possibility would be free agent defensive tackle Ian Scott of the Chicago Bears. Scott's experience is in the 4-3, but even if the Chargers keep running the 3-4, it would be interesting to see whether the Chargers could turn Scott into a 3-4 defensive end.

San Diego could use help at wide receiver, and the Rams' Kevin Curtis would be a wise investment. Generally, though, this is a team that already has the pieces it needs in place. With that kind of cap space, the Chargers ought to focus on extending the deals of their own players and looking to repeat their 2006 regular season and improve on their 2006 postseason.

Next week: NFC East by Ryan Wilson.

*All projected cap numbers courtesy of These numbers are "ballpark" and are subject to change. The intention is to give an approximate idea of each team's available resources before free agency and the draft begin.


79 comments, Last at 28 Mar 2007, 11:59am

1 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Shaun Phillips is also a RFA as well....and I think a more intriguing one then Michael Turner. It sounds like San Diego is going to offer a 1st round tender to Turner...not sure what they plan to do with Phillips (I assume a 1st round as well since Donnie Edwards looks to be out as well and their other ILB Randall Godfrey is getting up there in age as well).

San Diego was one of the youngest teams in the NFL in 2005 (Indy and Tennessee where the other 2)...I am not sure where they ranked in 2006. San Diego and Chicago (another young team with a lot of cap space) show I think how a dynasties can still exist in the NFL in the salary cap age (though the new expanding cap helps as well..)-it just matters on hitting the right players who are non-1st rounders (though San Diego has had success doing it in the 1st round, while Chicago has been pretty much miss in 1st round picks)..and now that they are good they get 1st round talent cheaper still....

2 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I am completely floored that you guys think CB is the Bronco's biggest need. I just don't know how you can say that with Foxworth and Paymah on roster, and the age of the safeties and the weak play of the D-line. At most they need depth at Corner, but they need starters a couple of places. I know almost every mock draft has them taking a corner in round one, but it just isn't going to happen.

3 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Shanahan unfortunately has a habit of sacrificing 1st round picks for wide recievers or cornerbacks. Why he is so resistant to address the lack of pass rush or a true safety with cover skills in the draft remains a continual source of confusion to me.

They also need to think about the O-Line. Its in fairly decent shape, but it not young at all. One or more injuries and Cutler will spending alot more time in the turf.

4 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The Raiders need offensive linemen, the Chargers need to keep their core of players intact, the Broncos need Cutler to develop quickly, and the Chiefs need a miracle.

IMHO, the Chargers should keep Kris Dielman. He's young, he's good, they have tons of cap space. Front-load his contract, but keep him.

And if the Raiders get a merely below average line, they should be very competitive next year.

5 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

So how does Darrent Williams's death impact the salary cap? Is he taken automatically out? Do the Broncos have to pay his family some money? Does his family have to pay back some of his bonus (hypothetically speaking, I doubt that Denver would demand that)?

6 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Plain and simple, the Broncos need to beef up the D-Line in the draft. Foxworth and Paymah are more than acceptable as corners, but the safety situation also must be addressed. The O-Line has a few good young players in the pipeline, and should continue to be good for years to come, but perhaps a late-round RB is needed.

The Broncos' biggest move was getting Bates, though. His defensive schemes combined with their talent should produce a dominant defense. And Cutler should develop into a Pro Bowl QB with plenty of potent new weapons. This is a dangerous squad.

7 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I hope the Raiders get Schaub for Moss, anything for Porter and draft Calvin Johnson.

It would make sense for both teams as they would immediatly have an huge upgrade at a position of need.

Of course, as Schaub is a RFA, and I don't know exactly what it means. I think a team can sign him and then give his team a round-pick as a compensation...
So Moss for the Falcons first-rounder, and then, a contract+the Falcons first-rounder for Schaub...

Another solution would be to shop Moss and Porter for a maximum of draft-picks/decent OL and use them to get a QB, a WR, OL and sign Huard to start in front of our new guy.

8 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Jim Bates is a good hire, but the Broncos need to help him. He defenses in Miami were based around the D-line. All the pass rush came from the front four, with very little blitzing. His last year in Miami, the starting linemen were Taylor, Ogunleye, Bowens and Chester, and that I venture to suggest, is better than anything the Broncos have shown in the last 3 seasons or so.

9 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I am wondering if the Chargers are interested in Donte Stallworth at all. DS is not a whiner though not completely clean as well. However, when he is healthy, he has burned the opposition (Exhibit A: 2006 Season).

I think the chargers need a good WR and it is better to pick from the FA market than invest on a draft pick, unless they are handed the Colston-of-2007-draft in any draft round.

10 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

A first-rounder is quite a lot for Moss but as Schaub was a third-rounder and the Raiders are seeking to trade Moss for a third-round pick...

Don't the compensatory pick be adjusted to the round in which the the player was selected ?

11 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#5 - that's a really interesting (if somewhat morbid) question. My answer? God knows.

12 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Am I the only one who thinks that while Kubiak made chicken salad out of Plummer for a couple of seasons, that he's not really the ideal QB to run Kubiak's offense. I think Plummer to Jacksonville is probably more likely.

13 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

What becomes Leftwich ?

Please !!!
Send him to the Raiders !!!!

I would love to see Shanahan helps the Raiders, even against his own will !

14 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

5. His remaining amortization is accelerated exactly as if he was traded or released. As I don't know what his amortization is, I don't know the current cap hit. (I remember seeing a question regarding Bruschi leaving to injury a couple years ago).

I would think the NFL would let Denver choose whether to take the cap hit now or next year, pretending that Denver had the option of when he left.

15 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#5. Regarding a refund of Williams' bonus money, it depends on his contract, and whether Denver believes Williams violated his contract resulting in his death. I'd think that's a stretch.

Also, I'd think that Denver took out an insurance policy on it's players as part of their contracts, so that insurance proceeds to Williams' family is outside the salary cap (as the insurance premiums were included in the salary).

16 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Leftwich's clunky mechanics mean he takes ages to get rid of the ball. Surely that would be awful behind the Raider's woeful line?

17 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Of course, the quarterback who Plummer reminds me of most is Rich Gannon, so it wouldn't shock me to see Gruden want to add Plummer to the mix down there....or I guess Oakland. Plummer has the mobility to buy some time, and Davis would relish beating Shanahan with his trash.

18 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I honestly love your stuff but I almost threw up my breakfast burrito when you said that Damon Huard is better than Trent Green. Green has been one of the most underrated quarterbacks of the past 5 years. How many other QB's have thrown over 4,000 yards with no stud receiver. His stats are suprisingly higher than the perception people put out there for him. Now I know he didn't have the best year this year, but his brain was swollen from a dirty hit he took in week 1.

I'm not here to bash Huard because he filled in very admirably but there is a big difference between filling in and being the guy ( see Kelly Holcomb).

After the elite quarterbacks of Manning, Brady, Mcnabb, Palmer I'd say that Green is at the next marginal list of quarterbacks.

David Carr and Jake Plummer are very similar players. Usually teams go a different route for a backup QB. Old starter, with a young backup. Pocket passer with a mobile backup etc.

Does anybody remember that 65 yard bomb from Cutler to Walker in the Arizona game? THAT is what frustrates a defensive coordinator. Do you think the Jets with Chad Pennington and his noodle arm could do that?

Everybody talks about mobile quarterbacks and their potential, but what about a guy like Cutler and his rocket arm. It forces defense to cover the entire football field, and even in the shorter passing game, they can't even leave tight spaces open. If Cutler learns how to read defenses, he could be deadly.

19 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


I've been saying since day 1 that Byron Leftwhich is a fraud. I think he's done in Jacksonville.

If all your going to do with your quarterback is throw screen passes to your midget runningback, and the occasional jump ball to your tall receiver after a turnover... then you might as well have somebody who can move around.

There aren't many reads for Byron. They run such a basic offense and I don't even see him executing that well with his piss poor mechanics.

If your going to run a dummy offense with so many throws in the flat to your runningback, you might as well start Garrard who can move around.

I think the Jags run the most boring and predictable offense in the league. Del Rio gets an A+ for coaching defense, but they need to run a more aggressive offense.

20 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I suspect Mr Davis would prefer to be the big man parading his brand new, No. 1 pick, franchise quarterback with the monster arm than get one over on Shanahan anyway.

Plummer to Houston (to wind down his career running away from unblocked blitzers), Leftwich to get another year in Jax.

21 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

What makes perfect sense for the Raiders is trading Randy Moss to the Falcons for Matt Schaub, taking Joe Thomas with the first overall pick, trading Jerry Porter for a late first-round pick to pick up Dwayne Jarrett, who Lane Kiffin coached at USC. After this, the Raiders will have an elite prospect at left tackle and a QB and two WRs with a lot of potential, including a rookie WR who will go into camp already knowing the head coaches offense.

Something that was obscured by the awful offense was that with Jerry Porter injured/inactive/suspended and Randy Moss uninterested, Ronald Curry played in 16 games for the second time in his career and had a top 20 DVOA among WRs, and caught 70% of all passes thrown to him. He also led the team in receptions and yards receiving.

As a side note to this, one thing that seems stranger the more I think about it are the trade ramifications of Matt Schaub's status as a restricted free agent. The Falcons can't trade him if doesn't sign his tender because he isn't under contract with them. If he signs the tender, is that money guaranteed, and does it still count against the Atlanta cap if he is traded? If the Falcons sign him to a multi-year contract, there will be a signing bonus that will count entirely against the 2007 Atlanta cap in the event of a trade. Is it possible for him to be traded to the Raiders after signing his tender with the condition that he will get a new contract from the Raiders?

22 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

In the "Old Faces New Places" thing, I made two guesses that were pure, unadulterated, wishful thinking. The first was Adalius Thomas going to Philly. The second was Oakland going after their typical "veteran strong-armed QB". If Al Davis brings in Drew Bledsoe I think I'll wet myself.

23 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Denver's zoney zone defense is hurting for a good pass rusher. That is their #1 need, IMHO.

And I wouldn't give anything for Randy Moss, who doesn't care about playing football. If you can't motivate him, there's nothing to get out of him.

24 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I really lost a little respect when you have said the biggest need is corner... Foxworth started a few games for Williams and he played safety when they needed him.

They competed last year for it, and though Fox lost he was a very good corner and should be able to fill in, if anything the Broncos need depth at corner, not a new starter.

Dline and Running back are the biggest needs.

Also Cutler didn't seem that bad, and while he wasn't a huge improvement over Plummer the team definately seemed to improve once he was given the starting job. I think he will be a very good quarterback as the Football Prospectus last year predicted.

25 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

18: MDS is not saying that Damon Huard has always been better than Trent Green, he is saying that in 2007 the 34-year old Damon Huard (who played like the Pro Bowl-selected Marc Bulger for half a season the previous year) will be better than the 37-year-old Trent Green (who played like Jon Kitna, Matt Leinart, Jason Campbell, and/or Kurt Warner, even with adjustments for the better pass defenses Green played against, for half a season after suffering a major concussion in the first game of that season).

26 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

22 I almost wet myself reading your comment. The would be the greatest personnel move in the history of the world.

27 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 18. Huard is better in all phases of the game than Green. The last three seasons Green has operated behind the #3 O line in football and he still couldn't lead KC anywhere. This season both he and Huard played behind a terrible O line and Huard got it done while Green sucked. You could always rely on Green for 2 picks, a lost fumble and a few sacks when the game was on the line. KC is looking at 6-10 next year and Huard will be starting elsewhere.

28 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 23

Yeah, I can't see anybody giving much of value for Moss at this point. In retrospect, the trade that brought him to Oakland was a real lose-lose.

Both Moss and Porter currently have contracts that pay them more than they are worth. And while I won't rule out that somebody will give up something for their rights (hey, Detroit got something from Miami for Harrington despite his bloated contract), it won't be much, given that they will almost certainly have to renegotiate the contracts. I think it's much more likely that those two just get released.

29 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I don't see how punk ass Jerry porter is worth a 1st rounder, that is PURE wishful thinking. I thought that Seattle going for Branch was too pricey and he is a good teammate that actually cheers for his own team. I couldn't see Porter traded for ANY higher than a 3rd rounder.

Moss for Schaub doesn't sound bad, but what happens when Mike Pick6 doesn't get moss the ball? I am not a big Ron Mexio fan, but I would love to see him get Moss so he would finally have NO MORE EXCUSES.

I disagree that NEXT year Huard would be better than Green. Huard filled in well, but there is a difference between filling in and being the man ( Kelly Holcomb). MDS said that he thinks Huard is better which doesn't have a time table attached to the comment. Green is 37, but remember Gannon won MVP and led his team to the Super Bowl at 39 years old.

What if Bellicheck took a Corey Dillion like gambel and brought in Randy? I know you Pats fans are drooling.

I agree with you guys that Denver is dying for a natural pass rusher. Even if he's a 3rd down situational pass rusher, their front 4 can not get the pressure they need. So you have two choices, blitz like hell and man up or stunt your pass rush and try and make some creative confusing schemes with your back 7.

I like that Scheffler tight end Denver has as well. He could be a fantasy sleeper next year. He sort of reminds me of Tony Gonzalez.

30 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Huard is an interesting case. I assume it's going to take starter $$ to sign/resign him, but who wants to make that kind of investment in a 34 year old QB that hasn't started even a season's worth of games in his 10 year career? The comparison above to Holcombe, is one that GMs will have to consider.

31 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

By the playoff game I was convinced that Green was not over the concussion. Whether or not he is better IMO than Huard at this point in their careers is entirely based on that assessment.

Even if I'm wrong, it would be a mistake to pay Huard very much money to stay. I think the Chiefs will keep Green based on not taking the cap hit to release him if they can negotiate down his 2007 base salary $7.2M I think.

I disagree that the decision to switch to Cutler was the right one. Cutler didn't play much better than Plummer (see DPAR/DVOA) and I'm not sure the game experience outweighed the learning he could have done on the sidelines with no pressure. The worst case for the Broncos (excepting injury) would have been for Cutler to be the Tony Romo of the Rockies: early success while playing erratically causing a failure to listen and learn. This didn't happen but I'm not sure the risk was worth the reward.

See link for a salary cap article from the KC Star. Pretty good.

32 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

28: Wait a second, Nick Saban took on not one but two large contracts at QB, and spent draft picks doing it? Does anyone else get the feeling that with 3 years hindsight Nick Saban's personnel decisions will make Mike Holmgren look like a savvy roster manager?

33 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

29: I should have been more clear, I meant that they could trade Jerry Porter along with a package of draft picks for a late first-rounder. The Raiders do have the 1st pick of the second round, which gives them a good start for an offer to get into the late first-round.

34 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

His predecessor, Priest Holmes, did exactly that and got a nice raise out of it, but Johnson, the son of a football coach, has always been a team-oriented guy and apparently doesn’t want to make waves

Anyone else feel sorta bad for LJ after reading this? He's signed until 2010, but really with 400 carries per year he probably won't make it to his 30th birthday (at least his legs won't). If any player should be making a "stink" it should be him.

35 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 34

Yeah, that was my exact reaction when I read that, too.

36 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 33 Then why don't they just keep their #2 pick? Unless there's someone they REALLY want, trading up a handful of picks from the 33rd selection is pretty pointless. I'd say Jerry Porter in a straight up player / draft pick trade by himself isn't worth more than (and I'm being generous I think) a 5th rounder. Teams treasure (other than Washington) their draft picks, and for good reason.

37 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#18-#30-#31 - Using Holcomb as a comparison is not shown in his stats. Holcomb has played in 10 games in a season twice, '03 Clev. and '05 Buf. Using FO rankings, in '03 he was 28th overall for QBs and in '05 he was 32nd. Are there any facts out there to support your opinions? Huard is not only better than Holcomb, he is also better than Green.

38 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 32

To be fair, in Harrington's case they renegotiated his contract (it was part of the trade negotiations with Detroit and Harrington) to a much more reasonable number. But I still thought they made a mistake in giving up anything for the guy. Detroit was going to cut him in a few weeks (when his roster bonus was due) anyway. Given that Harrington had already indicated a preference for playing for Miami, the only thing they gained from the deal was a few weeks of having Harrington in training camp.

Re: 34/35

How in the hell did Johnson end up under contract until 2010? In any event, it looks like the Chiefs aren't trying nail him and will renegotiate his contract.

39 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re: 37

The point isn't that Huard is no better than Holcomb. The point is that with 14 career starts (8 last year) in 10 years it's impossible to say how good Huard is.

The comparison to Holcomb was based on Holcomb's 2002 season. That year (counting the playoff game vs. Pittsburg) he threw 150 passes. That compares to 244 for Huard last year. Both had similar QB ratings for those tosses. How much confidence does the extra 90 passes give you that Huard won't come back to earth (ala Holcomb 2003)?

The Browns thought Holcomb was ready to be 'the guy' in 2003. It didn't work out. Huard may be ready to be 'the guy' in 2007, I don't know. But I think there's still considerable risk that with a larger sample size his performance will not maintain last year's pace.

40 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

39- The comparison still doesn't hold. In '02 FO has Holcomb as the #27 QB and as in my previous post, he only got worse. Huard preformed at a much higher level during both his starting opportunities. The fact that he has done it twice in '99 and '06 shows that it wasn't a fluke. In a league where Frye is a starting QB, Huard deserves a starting shot. If you can, find a relevant comparison I will look at it.

41 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#39 thanks

If I remember right, I think Holcomb had a 400 yard passing game in the 02 playoffs. Then he was " the guy" and failed.

The same thing could happen to Huard. It's not like he didn't have a good run game around him, and he had the ever so conservative play calling of Herm Edwards.

Now if he were to be " the guy" and they opened up the playbook, then what would happen...

Isn't it funny that the Raiders have Moss, Porter, and Curry but we talk about them drafting receivers?

42 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


Trent Green has been a 4,000 yard passer with what receivers? His tight end?

Damon Huard may have out performed Green for 1 year... but that is only 1 year and he was also doing mop up duty. It's not like he was the guy from day 1.

Starting pitching vs relief pitching and I'll stand by my Holcomb comparison.

43 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re 42: You can stand by it, for it or on it, it is still unsupported. As for Green's previous stats, he did that with an O line rated #3 for 3 straight years. Green has been an average QB at best. This year with out that O line he was exposed. Also, the d doesn't stand for "dude".

44 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

How many "average" quarterbacks throw for over 4,000 yards three yearsin a row, and over 3500 yards the two previous years? How many "average" quarterbacks throw for over 3500+ yards 5 years in a row?

His Cheifs were among the league leaders in offense. How many "average" quarterbacks have an 87.5 Lifetime QB rating?

His worst full season as a starting Quarterback was with the 98 redskins when he threw 23 TDs and 11 picks and 3400 yards.

Now remember, last year he had a serious concussion and wasn't even supposed to play.

I see you discredit Trent for his line, but you give him no credit for the receivers he was throwing to. I repeat, his best target was his tight end!

45 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Your boy Kelly Holcomb sits on the shelf for 6 years before getting to play in 4 games for the Brownies. In those 4 games he started 2 and posted a 92 QB rating.

The following year he gets to play 10 games and he throws 10 TD's with 12 picks for nearly 1800 yards.

46 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

For someone who gets so much publicity as a bright guy, larry johnson is an active participant in the torpedoing of his own career. Pro Sports 101: if you're going to be worked into the ground get paid for it

47 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I'm also sort of confused by the Darrent Williams comment. Ignoring Foxworth for the moment, wasn't Williams awful this year? I could've sworn that was the consensus around here, but maybe it was just one or two games.

48 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

47-I think the consensus was that Williams was a promsing young cornerback when not playing across from Reggie Wayne.

49 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I think Trent Green has shown himself in the present and in the past to be a good NFL QB, sort of an older Marc Bulger. Yes, he has (had?) a great supporting cast and a powerful running game, but so did Kurt Warner in his prime. Marshall Faulk isn't a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer just because he caught a lot of passes.

You can't judge Trent Green's entire career on one bad year. The only people who have any real idea why Trent Green wasn't playing well in 2006 are probably the Chiefs' coaching staff. However, even if it was all due to the concussion, it cannot be assumed he'll be back to normal next year. That was assumed about Brunell after his play declined due to injury at the end of 2005, but Brunell didn't seem to completely recover by 2006, which is why Jason Campbell is starting and the Redskins finished below .500.

What it really comes down to in the debate over Damon Huard vs. Trent Green is three things, 1) Damon Huard will be 34, while Trent Green will be 37, and while a number of good QBs have had good years at age 34, the list of recent QBs who have had good seasons at age 37 consists of Dan Marino, John Elway, Rich Gannon, and Steve Young; 2) Damon Huard did not suffer an injury that forced him to miss 8 games the previous season, Trent Green did; and 3) Neither one is a long-term solution for the Chiefs.

If winning in the here and now is unimportant, the Chiefs should let them both leave and start Brodie Croyle to see if he is their future QB. With moves such as re-signing Tony Gonzalez, despite the fact that his contract could hinder the franchise down the road, I'm guessing their goal is to return to the playoffs. However, they should keep in mind what happened to the Denver Broncos last year, who came a lot closer to the Super Bowl in 2005. This past season, both the rushing offense and passing offense declined drastically, and the defense declined somewhat as well. If the same thing happens to the Kansas City Chiefs, the consequences will be much, much worse.

In 2006 the Chiefs were not nearly as good as the Broncos in 2005, they do not have an obvious franchise QB waiting on the bench, they do not have one of the league's best WRs at his peak, and while the Broncos have two young productive RBs, the only great member of the team in his prime is this year's great running back most-likely-to-have a major breakdown. The Chiefs are only major contenders next year if whoever they choose as their starting QB plays well, Larry Johnson doesn't suffer a decline, and the development of recent draft picks finally improves the defense.

50 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


And Damon Huard is what? A guy who did not attempt a pass since 2003 (and it was 1..he attempted exactly 1 pass from 2001-2005) and has not done anything in his entire career, a guy who has not started since 1999. Huard did nice, I am happy for him, but some team is going to throw millions at a career back-up because of 244 attempts this year...the Chiefs are probably lose-lose no matter what....

51 Re: Four Downs: AFC West


And Damon Huard is what? A guy who did not attempt a pass since 2003 (and it was 1..he attempted exactly 1 pass from 2001-2005) and has not done anything in his entire career, a guy who has not started since 1999. Huard did nice, I am happy for him, but some team is going to throw millions at a career back-up because of 244 attempts this year...the Chiefs are probably lose-lose no matter what....

52 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

49: Faulk is a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. If he isn't, they might as well shut the whole thing down. That's a debate for another time, though.

Re: Huard vs Green - I believe that Huard had a somewhat flukey season. Also, when I saw him playing, he got to throw on a lot of 8 in the box. I suspect he's not as good the Trent Green of yesteryear, he's a little better than Green is now, and he's going to be much better than Green will be a year or two from now.

Re: Raiders, Moss, Porter - first, they aren't going to get all that much in exchange for either player. Both players are cancers, and Porter isn't even talented. Much was made of how the Raiders have had a talented group of wide receivers, but I think that the Doug Gabriel experience has called their bluff. The conventional wisdom prior to 2006 was that Gabriel was a talented receiver stuck behind Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, and Ronald Curry on the depth chart, so he didn't have the opportunity to showcase his talent.

Following 2006, we've realized that's not really accurate. For one thing, if you're stuck behind Jerry Porter on the depth chart, you really aren't all that talented. And second, what passes for "talented" on the Raiders offense can't even make the team for the Patriots.

53 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I think that marshall faulk belongs in the hall of fame. im not sure if he has retired yet, although i think he shouldn't, he is very close to passing jim brown on the all time rushing list.

he is one of three players to have 10,000 rushing and 5,000 receiving. the other two are marcus allen and tiki barber. marshall faulk has won an mvp award, and gets lots of total yards, he has to make the hall of fame, he is a legend.

as far as the afc west goes, i hope randy moss leaves oakland, and joins jacksonville. i think they are a perfect fit, and i am not just saying that becuase the jags are my favorite team. jacksonville is probably going to get rid of byron leftwich or david garrard, and their receivers have struggled the last couple of seasons. their defense is exceptional, because it was still in the top 10 at the end of the season despite injuries to donovin darius and reggie hayward. if they can get a good offensive lineman, and a good veteran wide receiver like moss, its hard to see them out of the playoffs.

54 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

It is just wrong and uninformed to say that the Broncos' biggest need is CB. In spite of the death of Williams, they still have a very solid CB in Dominique Foxworth, who competed with D-Will for the starting job but ended up as their best nickel back and later in the season, strong safety. Also, to back him up, they have another solid player, Karl Paymah, who came in the same class as D-Will and Foxworth. When I see people say they need to address CB in the draft, I feel embarrassed for the writer because it shows that they don't know what they are talking about. Much more pressing needs are DE, OL, RB, and backup safety.

55 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

52: Sorry, I guess what I said was misinterpreted. What I meant was that Marshall Faulk isn't regarded as a fantastically great running back just because of his pass-catching ability, but becasue he was also one of the best ever when he carried the ball on the ground. My point was that Faulk was a similar offensive threat for the Greatest Show on Turf when the ball was handed-off to him as Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson have been for the Chiefs. I absolutely think he should, and will, be elected to the Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible, and I apologize for causing anyone to think I was criticizing Faulk.

56 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I am assuming that the Chiefs resigned Jared Allen, but does anyone know for how much and for how long? I can't find the information anywhere.

57 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Ian Scott to the Chargers???? This makes no sense at all. Even if the Chargers were moving to a 4-3, Olshansky and Castillo are smilar players to Scott and one of them would move inside to tackle with Merriman or Phillips moving to end. If they're going to stick with a 3-4 then they already have two good young ends, why would they need Scott?

58 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

44: Yeah, uh, I'm not saying Trent Green isn't good or that Huard is better (every QB doesn't succeed even in good situations) but it's kind of silly to claim that Green hasn't had an excellent supporting cast. Obviously Tony G is a huge deal, but I'm surprised that someone who reads FO doesn't know that Eddie Kennison has been a good receiver (consistently top 20 or so) for the last few years (and awesome last year). Add to that an always spectacular running game (as NF has pointed out, a good receiving back in Holmes as well) and average to above-average pass protection, and that's a pretty favorable situation.

59 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Yea, I don't know what's the deal with the "Trent Green's best receiver was his tight end. What a crappy supporting cast!" argument.

His best receiver is the second most prolific tight end of all time. He'll pass Sharpe in touchdowns next year, and he'll pass him in yards and receptions by 2008.

60 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

What am I missing? Matt Hasselbeck, Jaguars...I don't get it.

61 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

You know what would be really fun to watch? Moss on the Cowboys.

62 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

So Trent Green puts up 4,000 yards with a tight end as his best receiver, but then again his leading WR cracked the top 20 as well.

So did Eddie Kennison crack the top 20 because he's good, or did Eddie crack the top 20 because of Trent Green?

Sort of like, is Marvin Harrison one of the best Wide Receivers ever who would succeed under any quarterback, or does Peyton MAKE him look better?

Tony Gonzalez is one of a kind, no doubt about that, but it's not like Green has a ( #1 Receiver). I don't like to use the workds (#1 Receiver) because it's just something stupid that fans say, but I am making THEIR argument.

Green makes good reads and has certainly been top 10 for the past few years ( minus last year), and is borderline top 5.

To banish him off and say that Huard is better after 1 year is nonsense.

63 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

It would be almost like saying Ryan Fitzpatrick is better than Marc Bulger LAST year.

64 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Re 62- Green has had a great TE, a top 4 recieving back, a top three O line and a close to top (#1, #4, #1) running game plus a 1,000 yd WR to pad his stats. This year, with an average O line he was exposed as a below average QB. Huard is better on all levels, deal with it.

65 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Forgive me if come off as brash, but I think the Huard v. Green debate is pretty boring stuff.

Huard has been around for literally for a decade, and has never really played. Green has had several good years, but he just had a major concussion, and he's old.

So, you have two QBs, both of who are old and honestly perhaps only another couple of good years at best left, and then you combine that with an offensive line that is almost certain to get worse before it gets better. Forgive me if I don't exactly get excited over this.

With a line that is likely heading south, a wide receiver corps that still has no real playmakers, and competing in a very tough division (some would say the AFC West is the toughest in all of football), I doubt the Chiefs win that much regardless of who plays.

If I were making the decisions, I would probably go with who whoever was cheapest, etc.

The Chiefs need a quarterback for the future. After all, I think even more positive projections would only have either one of these guys around for a couple of years more at the most (particularly for Green). Adding old quarterbacks and a regressing offensive lines is not a formula for longevity.

I know the Chiefs drafted Brodie Croyle last year, and I've heard they have plans for him to be the eventual starter on down the road. Maybe that will work out, but I don't know. I was a student at Alabama from 2002 until I graduated in 2005, which was the time Croyle was there, and I would not be too optimistic about him. He was a good, but certainly not great, college quarterback, and he's blown out both knees before (left ACL in 2000 and right ACL in 2004), not to mention he had to have surgery on his non-throwing shoulder after the 2003 season. He is not particularly big (played at about 200 pounds at Alabama), and he needs to get a good bit bigger. At 'Bama, he had a reputation for being more interesting in defining a beach body instead of one designed to take the wear and tear required for a quarterback.

Maybe Croyle will be the long-term solution for them, but I don't know, I would be keeping my options open if I were the Chiefs.

66 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Do we need to start an irrational Green vs Huard comment thread now?

67 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Green has been the most underrated QB of the past 5 years or so. How many guys threw for over 4,000 yards 3 years in a row, and 3500 yards 5 years in a row?

What do you want him to do, throw for 5,000 yards a year to admit he is good? Give the guy his respect.

He does his job well, says the right things in interviews, he doesn't get arrested for weed at the airport. He isn't pumped up by the media for being "mobile" or contraversal or anything else that sells. Some might call the guy boring, but he just does his job well and stays out of the lime light.

And it cracks me up how when Duante Mcnabbfumblepeper has a bad year it was " his knee" throwing all those picks and making bad reads, but when Trent Green gets his head smashed in and bleeding of the brain we forget that. He's just " washed up".

68 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

#67: Let me first say that I agree with you. I've been touting Green for years. If he hadn't got injured and Warner came in, Green would be a "guaranteed first-ballot Hall of Famer".

But to be fair: Green's 36. Culpepper's 30. Green's on the wrong side of the quarterback curve, and can be expected to decline. Culpepper isn't.

69 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I agree, if Green were the one sporting " the greatest show on turf" he might have had all those stats Warner had. Green doesn't hold onto the ball as long as Warner either and the funny thing is that he might actually still be the QB of the Rams if he never got hurt in the first place ( instead of Warner and Bulger). Greens game is actually more similar to Bulger.

My point is not to compare Green with pepper it is to point out that when Pepper had a bad year they blamed all those picks on his leg and deemed him " still injured". Trent Green had an off year and the " the violent concussion" wasn't the excuse for his poor play but everybody just writes him off.

My arguments with Trent Green deal more with the past than the future. He has quietly been oustanding in the past 5 years and he doesn't get any respect.

70 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

My point is not to compare Green with pepper it is to point out that when Pepper had a bad year they blamed all those picks on his leg and deemed him � still injured�. Trent Green had an off year and the � the violent concussion� wasn’t the excuse for his poor play but everybody just writes him off.

Chris, that's the second paragraph I wrote. It's age. While I don't agree with it, it does have merit. Green is almost certainly declining. Whether his performance this year was due to decline or injury is another thing.

Culpepper, however, is in all likelihood not declining yet.

71 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

When talking about Green, I was mainly talking about his past.

If you want to talk about Green and Pepper, they both had off years last year and had both suffered previous injuries (although Greens was this year where Peppers was prior). Now my point is that everybody is writing off as garbage "now and forever" while Pepper was just " still injured".

Green or Huard for the future? I have no idea, but to ignore Greens past achievements is a joke. He's underrated. Now he MAY never play to that potential ever again, but not many others will either.

72 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

I'll be a bit more direct this time.

Does anyone see the Chiefs doing anything major in the next couple of years, regardless of whether or not its Green or Huard?

There are many, many others on this site who know far more about football than I, but to me it seems pretty obvious.

The offensive line is old, and struggled last year. Roaf retiring hurt them greatly, and it seems Will Shields is going to retire this offseason too. Last year they tried to plug in Jordan Black to replace Roaf, but he struggled greatly. If I'm not mistaken, I read a few days ago where, according to the Stats, Inc. guys, he actually led the league in most sacks allowed by an offensive lineman. Center Casey Wiegmann is old too, and he's pretty small (around 285 I think), which is not ideal for a team trying to go smashmouth. Brian Waters did well, but that was about the only bright spot.

Sure, some people will say they can upgrade through the draft. I talk to some KC people who rave about getting a guy to come in an have an impact like Marcus McNeil had with the Chargers this year. That's nice talk, but seriously how often does something like that happen?

Either way, it seems like the offensive line is going to get worse before it gets better.

The receiving corps is still average at best. Kennison and Parker are the wideouts, and neither of those guys are particularly impressive. Tony Gonzalez will continue to be the main target of the passing game, and that's a concern. Gonzalez is probably a future Hall of Famer, and while he is going to be 31 this season he should continue to do well, but the fact remains that any time your tight end is about the only true receiving threat on your team, that's a concern. Just ask Alge Crumpler and the Falcons about their passing attack with an All-Pro tight end.

Their defense is probably not going to be horrendous, but by the same token it's not going to be great either. The Chiefs defense hasn't been particularly good in a long time, and they were very middle of the road again in 2006. According to FO, they were 18th in DVOA in 2006 (down from 12th in 2005), and were 20th against the pass and 18th against the run. There's no reason to expect that the 2007 defense will be anything better than average-at-best.

Beyond that, God love Larry Johnson, he's a pure class act that IMO is killing himself without getting paid properly (it's a shame you have players like T.O. complaining about money and then have a workhouse like Johnson killing himself out there and getting SEVERELY underpaid and not even letting out a whimper), but the truth regarding Johnson is that he has to hit a wall somewhere. He's going to turn 28 next season, and he just logged 416 carries a year ago. Now, even if you don't buy into the FO stuff about 370 being the magical number of carries, the point remains that almost everyone would say that 416 is entirely too many. Johnson may be the best back in the NFL, but you really have to wonder how he can hold up with those carries.

Beyond that, the AFC West is going to be very tough again next year. The Chargers may have lost Cameron and Phillips, but as long as they have all of the talent they do, they will do well. Denver narrowly missed the playoffs this year, but the truth is they are only going to get better and better the more Cutler matures.

Disagree if you want, but I just don't see this team doing anything anytime soon.

Again, I would probably grab whoever is cheapest and probably use what was left to build for the future. I'm not saying have a fire sale, mind you, but this is a team that is going to have to replace most of its very good players over the next couple of years or so, and if they can't get building started now, it's going to be tough being a Chiefs fan in 2009 and beyond.

73 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Agreed on every point, PaulH. The Chiefs are screwed. I think a lot of us see it coming at this point.

74 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Just heard on ESPN that Marty was fired!!

75 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

74: Just saw that. I wonder who we'll see as the new Chargers head coach.

76 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Yep, Marty is gone.

Basically the statements released said that him and the management just didn't get along.

Being so late in the process, I wonder who they would hire. I would think most of the top-notch guys they would go after are not going to be available?

Perhaps they go after Pete Carroll?

Either way, just to be honest, who couldn't win with that talent? They could probably re-hire Mike Riley and get back to the playoffs.

77 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

The Raiders need offensive line, but I would venture that Steinbach is a better fit than Brown.

Also, for QB, Huard fills a lot of what the Raiders need right now -- someone who won't turn the ball over. With their defense as good as it is, they need to be sure to score or punt. The other side won't get a lot of points, keeping the team in the game until the fourth quarter.

Ronald Curry has proven he can be a #2 receiver, so let him have that job. As for a #1, it does not have to be a first round pick. (I favor drafting OT Thomas.)

78 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Regardless of qb, the raider o-line must be radically upgraded. having said that, you cant see past davis wanting J. russell in his club. So, trade Moss and porter,free up the cap space and sign the best veteren linemen available.An offence that poor cannot be resolved in 1 offseason,but with a better line,small inprovments would at least seem like a turnaround.Russell and walters compete for the start this season,(Bye bye Brooks)if the qbs can stay on their feet, even supposedly inferior wrs would be better than the dissapointment moss and porter have become.

79 Re: Four Downs: AFC West

Trent Green is done. He never did anything. I don't care how many yards he threw for. He missed his chance when he went down and kurt Warner came in. Huard is a nobody too. The only reason the CHEFS (spelled wrong on purpose) won with him, was because LJ ran the ball a lot. Jake Plummer is NO RICH GANNON!
Norv will find a way to sink the Chargers ship. The RAIDERS will show a vast improvement this year, and contend in a couple of years. GO RAIDERS!