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How do the Broncos stack up to the rest of the AFC West?

On paper the West is the best division in the NFL. It isn’t close.

Broncos Country’s been on cloud nine since Wilson landed in Denver, and rightfully so. After six years of bad jokes and worse quarterback play the franchise is finally relevant again. The trade also seemed to begin an arms race in a division where everyone was looking up at the Chiefs. To better wrap my head around where things stand, I thought it’d make sense to look at the moves.

Kansas City Chiefs

Notable additions

Justin Reid - S

Marquez Valdes-Scantling - WR

JuJu Smith-Schuster - WR

Geron Christian - OT

Deon Bush - S

Notable losses

Tyreek Hill - WR

Byron Pringle - WR

Demarcus Robinson - WR

Charvarius Ward - CB

Mike Hughes - CB

Jarran Reed - DL

Austin Blythe - OG

With every other team in the division making aggressive moves to catch them, the Chiefs elected to look to the future. Kansas City sent shockwaves around the NFL when they traded Hill to the Miami Dolphins this week. They turned the most dangerous receiver in the league into five draft picks to help them reload the roster around Patrick Mahomes as he enters the expensive part of his 10-year, $450 million contract. While the Chiefs’ extra first and second round picks ought to leave the rest of the division wary in April, odds are they’re weaker in September.

MVS was signed to replace Hill and Reid was signed to replace Tyrann Mathieu, who remains unsigned. So far they’ve done nothing to address the defensive front or cornerback room, which raises significant questions about the Steve Spagnuolo defense that struggled for the early part of the ‘21 campaign.

Las Vegas Raiders

Notable additions

Dave Ziegler - GM

Josh McDaniels - HC

Patrick Graham - DC

Carmen Bricillo - OLC

Chandler Jones - ED

Davante Adams - WR

Demarcus Robinson - WR

Mack Hollins - WR

Bilal Nichols - DL

Kyle Peko - DL

Brandon Bolden - RB

Anthony Averett - CB

Darius Phillips - CB

Duron Harmon - DB

Jayon Brown - LB

Micah Kiser - LB

Kyler Fackrell - LB/ED

Alex Bars - iOL

Jakob Johnson - FB

Vernon Butler - DL

Ameer Abdullah - RB

Jacob Hollister - TE

Notable losses

Zay Jones - WR

Marcus Mariota - QB

Nicholas Morrow - LB

Casey Hayward - CB

Marquel Lee - LB

Modern NFL history is littered with Bill Belichick assistants who failed to make an impact outside of New England, so it’s fair to look at Josh McDaniels second (or is it third?) chance at head coach with a healthy dose of skepticism. With that in mind, the former Broncos head coach did not elect to trade Derek Carr despite a seller’s market. This is not a rebuild, Vegas made moves to try and contend with their soon-to-be 31-year-old quarterback.

Davante Adams and Chandler Jones are the the headline moves and rightfully so, as each will dramatically alter the way opponents gameplan for the Raiders. Don’t sleep on the Patrick Graham hire. The former Giants defensive coordinator received a ton of buzz for head coaching jobs the last two years. He’s an innovative schemer who will move the Raiders away from Gus Bradley’s overreliance on single high shells. The rest of the free agent moves strike me as the kind of overhaul a new regime goes through to fit talent to their scheme. It’s also something Vegas badly needed after years of Jon Gruden floundering through the offseason.

Los Angeles Chargers

Notable additions

J.C. Jackson - CB

Khalil Mack - ED

Sebastian Joseph-Day - DL

Austin Johnson - DL

Gerald Everett - TE

Josh Harris - LS

Notable losses

Uchenna Nwosu - ED

Justin Jones - DL

Kyler Fackrell - LB/ED

Scott Quessenberry - iOL

The darlings of the NFL went into Brandon Staley’s second offseason with a dire need to improve their defense and the right side of their offensive line. One out of two ain’t bad, right? They spent the first wave of free agency addressing the former and did nothing about the latter, but still have about $19 million in cap space to chase an upgrade over right tackle Storm Norton.

Everett looks like a clear upgrade on the unsigned Jared Cook. Jackson replaces Chris Harris Jr. in the secondary and means ‘21 second round pick Asante Samuel Jr. can slide into the slot where his size will create less matchup issues. Joseph-Day’s game compared favorably to D.J. Jones’ before an injury marred 2021. A second round pick for Mack looks like a worthwhile gamble. The former Raider and Bear missed ten games to a season-ending foot injury last year, but if he can bounce back to form he’s an elite run defender and a very good pass rusher across from Joey Bosa.

Denver Broncos

Notable additions

Nathaniel Hackett - HC

Ejiro Evero - DC

Dwayne Stukes - STC

Russell Wilson - QB

Josh Johnson - QB

Randy Gregory - ED

D.J. Jones - DL

K’Waun Williams - CB

J.R. Reed - S

Eric Tomlinson - TE

Alex Singleton - LB

Ben Braden - OL

Tom Compton - OL

Billy Turner - OL

Notable losses

Vic Fangio - HC

Tom McMahon - STC

Teddy Bridgewater - QB

Drew Lock - QB

Shelby Harris - DL

Noah Fant - TE

Micah Kiser - LB

Austin Schlottmann - iOL

The Broncos are going to look a lot different in 2022, but you already knew that. Vic Fangio, Pat Shurmur, Tom McMahon, and every old head from the last coaching staff is out. Nathaniel Hackett, Justin Outten, Ejiro Evero, Dwayne Stukes, and the least experienced new coaching staff in the league is now in. Bridgewater looks like he’ll back up Tua Tagovailo on the Miami Dolphins while Lock has a second chance with the Seattle Seahawks. In their place is Wilson, a legitimate franchise quarterback and future Hall of Famer. Pro Football Focus considers Denver the most improved team in the NFL this offseason.

The Wilson trade immediately vaults the Broncos into a Super Bowl window and shines a bright light on the new coaching staff. The early returns on Hackett are glowing about his energy and interpersonal communication skills, but replacing Fangio with a first time defensive coordinator is a gamble. Personally, I can’t imagine Stukes isn’t an upgrade as special teams coordinator: the McMahon departure is long overdue and should be an addition by subtraction.

Mile High Report’s AJ Schulte and I went over every free agent addition but one on this week’s Cover 2 Broncos, so I won’t bore you repeating myself here. The one exception is Billy Turner, who signed on Thursday night. The Packers cut the former Bronco with a failed physical designation, which raises questions about how he’ll look come training camp. The move seems to create a logjam up and down the offensive line and could impact Paton’s draft strategy at right tackle.

Poll

Who will win the AFC West in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Chiefs
    (291 votes)
  • 4%
    Raiders
    (90 votes)
  • 15%
    Chargers
    (323 votes)
  • 66%
    Broncos
    (1395 votes)
2099 votes total Vote Now

Your Broncos’ News

What else do the Denver Broncos need to do to make the playoffs in the AFC? - Mile High Report

AJ Schulte and I dove deep into Paton’s second free agency and what’s left to do on this week’s Cover 2 Broncos

Understanding the Denver Broncos’ 2022 free agent offensive line signings - Mile High Report

Why George Paton got the guys he got

Young pass rushers can have an immediate impact in the NFL - Mile High Report

Bradley Chubb made an immediate impact on the Bronco pass rush when he was 22 years old. How common is that?

Denver Broncos are signing cornerback K’Waun Williams - Mile High Report

Broncos get their nickel corner.

Denver Broncos sign offensive lineman Billy Turner to a one-year deal - Mile High Report

The Broncos may have found their right tackle.

Denver Broncos to have a private workout with Rutgers RB Isaih Pacheco - Mile High Report

Broncos are bringing in a running back prospect for a pre-draft workout.

Denver Broncos to have a pre-draft visit with Virginia dCB Nick Grant - Mile High Report

Broncos bringing in a potential day 3 safety prospect.

Denver Broncos: The losing streak will end in 2022 - Mile High Report

The Denver Broncos will beat the Kansas City Chiefs at least once during the 2022 season.

Every NFL Team’s Smartest 2022 Offseason Decision so Far | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

Not even two full weeks ago, the Denver Broncos landed veteran quarterback Russell Wilson to end their long search for their next star. It feels longer than that, thanks to how many big names have swapped teams already. But the AFC West, in particular, won’t forget any time soon as the competition level has dramatically risen. Grabbing Wilson for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, Noah Fant, Drew Lock, and Shelby Harris was a good deal for both teams compared to what other quarterbacks have fetched. This team has been a quarterback away for the last few years, and Wilson was the most attainable passer on the market. We’ll find out quickly whether this roster is as ready to compete as most believe. Trading for Wilson was a no-brainer, but the division is historically deep. The 33-year-old is hoping to teach his younger adversaries in Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas why savvy and experience matter.

None injured in bizarre fire at Broncos’ Mile High Stadium

Per DNVR’s Andrew Mason, a Denver Fire Department spokesperson said the fire originated in the suite level before spreading to the club level, ultimately covering at least 1,000 square feet. The spokesperson said the stadium’s suites were particularly susceptible to fire due to their material.

NFL Free Agency 2022 Winners and Losers | Football Outsiders

Denver Broncos Improved Roster: A Used Resources Well: A Coherent Plan: A Overall Grade: A

The best arguments against the Russell Wilson trade, Randy Gregory signing, and smaller complementary moves the Broncos made in March boil down to: Going all-in is risky and scary and therefore bad; or The AFC West is too tough so why try? Both arguments make more sense when tweeting from a coffee shop than when running an NFL organization that has been stagnating for over half a decade. The Broncos risked not even having a playoff appearance to show for their strong 2018-2020 drafts if they kept twiddling their thumbs at quarterback. The risk/reward ratio on the Wilson trade favorable, and the Broncos made supplementary moves (Gregory, linebacker Alex Singleton, re-signing linebacker Josey Jewell). to backstop the trade by reinforcing their defense. The Wilson gamble may fail, but doing less would have guaranteed failure.

NFL News

Chandon Sullivan signing with Vikings - ProFootballTalk

The big news here as it relates to Denver is that it seems to close the door on Bryce Callahan signing with Minnesota.

What Does This Spring’s Great QB Reset Mean for Future NFL Offseasons? - The Ringer

Last offseason, Broncos general manager George Paton was mocked for claiming that “quarterbacks are available more than franchise corners every year, at least the last couple of years”—partially because he said this after the team passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to draft Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick. Hell, I was still mocking him for the comment earlier this month. But not long after I wrote that piece, Paton traded for Wilson, and Surtain, who’s entering his second season, already looks like an elite cornerback. If Paton hadn’t been so confident that a top-tier quarterback would be made available, Broncos fans might be talking themselves into Fields and, say, J.C. Jackson being enough to get them back to the playoffs. Instead, they’re viewing the team as a legitimate Super Bowl contender—and it’s not an irrational thought!

The Chiefs Are Entering Their Second Era Under Patrick Mahomes - The Ringer

It’s Mahomes that gives the Chiefs the leeway to do this. Extend Hill; trade for Orlando Brown; sign Joe Thuney—all moves to win now. And after a shaky season: Trade Hill, leave Brown without a contract extension, and make whatever moves are left to come. Mahomes ensures they’re always competitive, always attractive to free agents, always afloat. They can be aggressive short-term, because of how good Mahomes is now, and build cautiously for the future, because of how good Mahomes will continue to be later.

Panthers plan to ‘add to’ quarterback room, haven’t received calls about possible trade

They have options, but lack clarity at this point in the offseason, which means it’s likely the Panthers will add to the position in the offseason. General manager Scott Fitterer said as much Friday, while also including those still on the roster — Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker — in consideration for 2022.

Scott Fitterer: The door is still open for Cam Newton - ProFootballTalk

“The thing with Cam is it’s got to be a fit for us and it’s got to be a fit for him just as well,” Fitterer said. “He’s looking for a certain opportunity. And the door’s still open for us. We’re very open to Cam. We’ll see where it goes. He knows where we stand. I think he and Matt [Rhule] had a really good conversation, from my understanding. So we’ll just see where it goes.”

The Browns may have to eventually cut Baker Mayfield, and then watch him land in Pittsburgh - ProFootballTalk

Everyone knows the Browns are done with Mayfield. And the one place he wanted to go — the Colts — didn’t want him. Even if, say, the Seahawks or the Lions or the Falcon express interest, Mayfield could make it clear he’s not interested in playing for any of those teams. He has a hammer in this situation. He’s making $18.8 million, no matter what. He could force the Browns to ultimately release him if he makes it clear that he ultimately will refuse to embrace a new team. The Browns surely don’t want to do that. For starters, he’d make a beeline for Pittsburgh, which would pay him a one-year minimum salary of $1.035 million and stick the Browns with the $17.765 million balance. Instantly, he’d become the best option on the Steelers’ depth chart.

Deshaun Watson intends to “continue to clear my name as much as possible” - ProFootballTalk

“My intent is to continue to clear my name as much as possible,” Watson told reporters. This implies that he plans to keep aggressively defending himself. And it sets the stage for the NFL to eventually place him on the Commissioner exempt list until the cases are resolved. That would mean, if it happens, that Watson would be placed on paid leave possibly for all of the 2022 season, while the 22 cases continue to move toward trial.

Andrew Berry: Lawyers advised us not to speak directly to Deshaun Watson’s 22 accusers - ProFootballTalk

“Do you and does this organization believe there was no wrongdoing?” Berry was asked. “We feel very confident in Deshaun the person,” Berry said. “We have a lot of faith in him. And we believe that as he gets into the community and our organization, he’s going to make a positive impact.” It was a yes or no question. Do you believe there was no wrongdoing? Anything other than yes is a fancy, evasive way of saying no. This suggests a fundamental truth. The Browns don’t know whether there was wrongdoing. They’re taking a calculated risk that wrongdoing won’t be proven and that, if it is, there won’t be future wrongdoing. That Watson has learned his lessons and changed his ways.

Jimmy Haslam denies saying Browns needed “an adult” instead of Baker Mayfield - ProFootballTalk

“Contrary to what is out there in the press, we think highly of Baker and did not get down on him,” Haslam said. “I know there was a statement that we needed an adult in the room, and Baker thought that came from ownership. That’s not true. Baker gave it everything he had while he was here. Nobody can question his effort this past year, and nobody can question the four years he gave to the city of Cleveland, and we wish him nothing but the best of luck.”