The AFC West has held the "toughest division in the conference" title for the last few years and it doesn't appear to be switching hands very soon.
Kansas City is coming off another Super Bowl-championship season and boasts one of the better rosters in the NFL. Meanwhile, the rest of the division is making significant moves to try to catch them. The Chargers added a new offensive coordinator, Denver has ushered in head coach Sean Payton, and the Raiders now have a new quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. Each of these moves should make the Chiefs' pursuit for a back-to-back title march that much more difficult and only adds to the reputation of being the most competitive division in the league.
While we still have the NFL Draft on deck, we'll take a quick snapshot of where each of these teams stands at this point in the offseason with the first waves of free agency now washed ashore. Along with the recap, we'll also be handing out our grades.
Kansas City Chiefs: B-
Additions: OT Jawaan Taylor (Jaguars), LB Drue Tranquill (Chargers), IDL Byron Cowart (Colts), EDGE Charles Omenihu (49ers)
Re-signings: IDL Derrick Nnadi, TE Blake Bell, TE Jody Fortson, P Tommy Townsend, IDL, Tershawn Wharton, RT Prince Tega Wanogho, QB Shane Buechele, LG Nick Allegretti, WR Cornell Powell
Departures: Frank Clark (released), LT Orlando Brown Jr. (Bengals), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Patriots), RT Andrew Wylie (Commanders), RB Ronald Jones II (Cowboys), FB Michael Burton (Broncos), WR Mecole Hardman (Jets), S Juan Thornhill (Browns), IDL Khalen Saunders (Saints)
Kansas City decided against retaining left tackle Orando Brown Jr. and instead opted to bring aboard former Jaguars tackle Jawaan Taylor. That's quite the gamble to take if you're the Chiefs, especially considering that Taylor has played just 154 total snaps at left tackle between college and the NFL. Of course, Taylor is talented as he allowed the third-lowest pressure rate among tackles last season, but it will be a transition for him to move over to the left side. Meanwhile, the Chiefs do appear to be confident in their in-house options at receiver and expect Kadarius Toney and/or Skyy Moore to take a leap in 2023 after allowing both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman to leave in free agency without bringing anyone aboard.
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Los Angeles Chargers: C-
Additions: LB Eric Kendricks (Vikings)
Re-signings: IDL Morgan Fox, P J.K. Scott, RT Trey Pipkins, TE Donald Parham, CB Kemon Hall, K Cameron Dicker, LT Foster Sarell, QB Easton Stick
Departures: IDL Joe Gaziano (Falcons), RT Storm Norton (Saints), LB Drue Tranquill
It's been a rather quiet offseason for the Chargers after spending big a year ago. Eric Kendricks is their lone notable addition and will be their starting off-ball linebacker. That said, arguably their most important addition this offseason comes on the offensive side of the ball with the hiring of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. The 34-year-old helped develop Dak Prescott over his tenure in Dallas and should help continue to mold Justin Herbert into one of the elite quarterbacks that the NFL has to offer, which is a nice feather in the team's pocket for the offseason.
Aside from the lack of moves, what puts L.A. in the "C-" range is the possibility of losing one of their key weapons in Austin Ekeler. The team has allowed him to seek a trade, which would subtract a player who has averaged nearly 1,600 yards per season over the last two years and 19 touchdowns.
Las Vegas Raiders: B
Additions: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers), TE Austin Hooper (Titans), WR Jakobi Meyers (Patriots), CB Brandon Facyson (Colts), WR Cam Sims (Commanders), LB Robert Spillane (Steelers), WR Phillip Dorsett (Texans), EDGE Jordan Willis (49ers), RT Justin Murray (Bills), CB Duke Shelley (Vikings), CB David Long (Rams), S Jaquan Johnson (Bills), S Marcus Epps (Eagles), LS Jacob Bobenmoyer (Broncos), O.J. Howard (Texans)
Re-signings: RT Brandon Parker, RB Josh Jacobs, IDL Jerry Tillery, FB Jakob Johnson, RT Jermaine Eluemunor, RB Ameer Abdullah, C Hroniss Grasu, WR Keelan Cole, TE Jesper Horsted, RG Netane Muti, CB Roderic Teamer, LB Curtis Bolton
Departures: TE Darren Waller (trade with Giants), QB Derek Carr (Saints), EDGE Clelin Ferrell, LB Denzel Perryman (Texans), WR Mack Hollins (Falcons), IDL Andrew Billings (Bears), LS Trent Sieg (Cowboys), CB Sidney Jones (Bengals), QB Jarrett Stidham (Broncos)
The Raiders have been the busiest team in the division this offseason when it comes to reshaping the roster. The biggest move comes under center where the team released longtime starter Derek Carr and has since replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo. While the former 49ers quarterback is better, this is more of a lateral move in my eyes. Garoppolo has familiarity with Josh McDaniels' offense from their days in New England together, but I'm not sure this quarterback swap will push Las Vegas into true contention for the AFC West title. Jakobi Meyers was a solid addition as a true No. 2 option opposite of Davante Adams, but trading away star tight end Darren Waller was a bit of a head-scratcher. He would have been an ideal target for Garoppolo over the middle of the field, but he'll now have to settle for O.J. Howard and/or Austin Hooper, which feels like a notable downgrade. Meanwhile, retaining Josh Jacobs on the franchise tag was a savvy move.
Overall, these were good signings for the Raiders but lacked a true splash that would have put them more seriously into the division-title conversation.
Denver Broncos: A-
Additions: RT Mike McGlinchey (49ers), TE Chris Manhertz (Jaguars), CB Tremon Smith (Texans), IDL Zach Allen (Cardinals), P Riley Dixon (Rams), RB Tony Jones (Seahawks), LG Ben Powers (Ravens), QB Jarrett Stidham (Raiders), WR Marquez Callaway (Saints), RB Samaje Perine (Bengals)
Re-signings: LB Alex Singleton, CB Essang Bassey, S P.J. Locke, LB Jonas Griffith, RT Quinn Bailey
Departures: RG Graham Glasgow (Lions, RB Chase Edmonds (Buccaneers), LT Calvin Anderson (Patriots), RB Mike Boone (Texans), TE Andrew Beck (Texans), TE Eric Saubert (Dolphins), IDL DeShawn Williams (Panthers), IDL Dre'Mont Jones (Seahawks), WR Freddie Swain (Dolphins), P Corliss Waitman (Patriots), LS Jacob Bobenmoyer (Raiders)
Similar to what we did with the Chargers and Kellen Moore, you can't talk about Denver's offseason without mentioning the arrival of head coach Sean Payton, who the team acquired in a trade with the Saints. Payton is the Broncos' best shot at rekindling the magic that Russell Wilson had in Seattle and helping turn the franchise around after an abysmal season in 2022. On top of his new leadership, Denver also helped out Wilson by adding to the offensive line in a big way, handing out lucrative contracts to right tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Ben Powers. Wilson was sacked a league-high 55 times last season, which certainly did help his transition to the Broncos. Their arrival should give him more stability inside the pocket. Those moves put Wilson in a position to succeed, which is all you can ask for at this point. That said, I am fascinated by the addition of quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who could be an option for the team to start if Payton truly finds out that the well has run dry with Wilson.