AFC West: Key Free Agents, Draft Picks & Needs, and Available Cap Space

Feb 14, 2023
AFC West: Key Free Agents, Draft Picks & Needs, and Available Cap Space

The NFL offseason is a time for teams and fanbases to reset expectations for the upcoming year. While we haven't officially gotten to the offseason yet, 30 of 32 teams have already had their focus shift to the next season. However, some teams are in a better position than others to equip their team for future success - whether immediate or down the road.

In this series of articles, I will be going division-by-division and highlighting what each team has to work with this offseason in terms of resources in the form of draft capital and available cap space. I'll also offer some predictions of how teams might attack the offseason based on the capital they have available and how it could impact their team.

More Resource Dashboards: NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South

As a reminder, here is a breakdown of key offseason dates that may impact this information:

  • March 7: deadline for teams to use the franchise tag
  • March 13: legal tampering period opens
  • March 15: NFL free agency begins and the new league year starts
  • April 21: deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
  • April 27-29: NFL draft
  • May 1: deadline for teams to exercise 5th-year options on 2020 first-round draft picks
  • July 15: deadline for franchise tag players to sign an extension

As of February 7, 2023

Denver Broncos

Current draft picks (round number): 67 (3), 68 (3), 108 (4), 141 (5), 195 (6)

Cap space (effective cap space): $9.1M ($8.1M)

The Denver Broncos have already made a splash this offseason by acquiring Sean Payton as their new head coach in hopes of reviving Russell Wilson back to his pre-Bronco days. Fortunately, that acquisition doesn't count against Denver's cap hit for this year. Unfortunately, it leaves Denver without a pick in the first two rounds and just five picks overall in the upcoming draft. I'm truly not sure where the Broncos go from here - they have their quarterback in place, but their star running back will be coming off of a torn ACL, and Jerry Jeudy or Courtland Sutton could be traded if they don't like the fit. Defensively, things aren't as bad, but Denver also lost its defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero, who had done a phenomenal job in 2022. Payton offers a small glimmer of hope, but things are not looking great for Broncos Country.

Las Vegas Raiders

Current draft picks (round number): 7 (1), 38 (2), 70 (3), 109 (4), 143 (5), 146 (5), 174 (5), 204 (6), 214 (6), 222 (7), 233 (7)

Cap space (effective cap space): $19.8M ($10.8M)

It was confirmed on Sunday that Derek Carr would not be traded, so the Las Vegas Raiders will be releasing him, making him one of the most desirable quarterback free agents this offseason. With that, the Raiders are now one of the many teams in need of a new quarterback. Should they want to go that route in the draft, they will likely have a good shot at one of the top four quarterbacks in this class with the seventh overall draft pick. This would be the direction I would go because Las Vegas has plenty of other holes to fill right now and likely won't be in contention for the AFC West without a stud quarterback. Notably, Josh Jacobs will become a free agent coming off of his best year after the Raiders declined his fifth-year option, so it will be interesting to see if they try to bring him back in 2023.

Los Angeles Chargers

Current draft picks (round number): 21 (1), 54 (2), 85 (3), 125 (4), 158 (5), 200 (6), 241 (7)

Cap space (effective cap space): -$20.4M (-$23.4M)

The Los Angeles Chargers, after being hyped up all of last year, are coming off of another disappointing season. Even though they have a top-five quarterback, offense will still be a focus for the Chargers leading up to the 2023 season. Keenan Allen has already been tagged as a trade or cut candidate, and we have already seen what LA's wide receiver group looks like without him. Their offensive line - 16th in PFF's pass-blocking efficiency - could also use some work and definitely more depth to help protect against injuries. Defensively, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack make up $58.4M of their cap combined - if one were to go, it would be Mack. The Chargers run defense needs a lot of help, so I expect interior defenders and linebackers to be a big focus for LA this offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs

Current draft picks (round number): 31 (1), 63 (2), 95 (3), 122 (4), 134 (4), 168 (5), 178 (6), 217 (6), 219 (6), 227 (7), 251 (7), 227 (7)

Cap space (effective cap space): $7.0M (-$7.1M)

Fresh off of a Super Bowl 57 victory, I'm sure the Kansas City Chiefs haven't even begun to think about off-season plans. Well, this may be a case of the rich getting richer because the Chiefs have 12 picks in this spring's upcoming draft, tied (with Houston) for the most in the draft. Granted, they are all (mostly) at the end of each round, but Kansas City will need to continue to build through the draft as they enter the most expensive years of Patrick Mahomes' contract (he has a $49M cap hit this year). They did a great job of doing that last year, but it's much easier said than done.

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