Around the AFC West: Broncos, Raiders, Chargers invest heavily to chase K.C.

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) motions as he leaves the field after the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High.
Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) motions as he leaves the field after the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

John Elway and the Broncos hit a grand slam in free agency, pulling off multiple blockbuster trades and signing key free agents to positions of need.

How did the rest of the division do though? Did all these moves help the Broncos chase down the Chiefs and stay ahead of the Raiders and Chargers, or did Denver just tread water with the rest of the division?

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders continued their rebuild under Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock with a very aggressive offseason that saw them overhaul their defense.

First, they let linebacker Tahir Whitehead and former first-round safety Karl Joseph sign with the Panthers and Browns respectively. They also let the eternally-controversial Vontaze Burfict walk in free agency.

The Raiders then brought in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to not only re-build but seriously upgrade their linebacking corps. The young but expensive duo should give them one of the better linebacking tandems in the league. The Sin City team wasn’t done with their defense though, adding Maliek Collins, Eli Apple and Carl Nassib.

Collins and Nassib will help boost a young Raiders defensive line that is starting to build around second-year pass rushers Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby. Meanwhile, Apple was a nice addition the Raiders had to make thanks to their dreadful cornerback room, which they must add even more talent to before the season starts.

The biggest move of the Raiders’ offseason though was adding Marcus Mariota on a contract that could dole out high-end starting money if he steals the starting job from Derek Carr and plays well.

Los Angeles Chargers

Like Las Vegas, the Chargers underwent a complete overhaul of one side of the football, though their focus was on the offense.

The Bolts kicked free agency off by letting some familiar faces go in Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Derek Watt, Travis Benjamin and Michael Schofield. They also placed the franchise tag on the oft-injured but immensely talented Hunter Henry, and signing Austin Ekeler to a four-year extension.

They then made one of the better trades of the offseason by acquiring young, pro-bowl guard Trai Turner for Russell Okung, who was well past his prime. Their last addition on the offensive side of the ball was longtime Packer tackle Bryan Bulaga to replace Okung. Bulaga has been a steady tackle for several years, though age and injury risk have become a concern recently.

The Chargers also made some moves on the defensive side of the ball, allowing Brandon Mebane, Jatavis Brown and Adrian Phillips, among others, to walk in free agency, adding Chris Harris Jr. and Linval Joseph to replace them.

Kansas City Chiefs

Never in a million years would you think you could have more financial flexibility than a billion-dollar NFL franchise that is just two months removed from winning the world championship, but that might just be the case now, as Kansas City is left with just $177.

No, not $177 thousand, or $177 million. $177.

The Chiefs were cap-strapped before free agency even started, forcing them to let a ton of key contributors go, including but not limited to LeSean McCoy, Cameron Erving, Stefen Wisniewski, Emmanuel Ogbah, Reggie Ragland, Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller.

That gave them some wiggle room, but they quickly lost it by franchise-tagging Chris Jones, picking up Damien Williams, and re-signing Demarcus Robinson and Chad Henne. Robinson, who’s shown flashes of being a starting-caliber receiver could prove to be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason at his position.

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