Bold Free Agent Signings: AFC West

In our final two installments of Bold Free Agent Signings, our authors set their sights out west. In this edition, Chase, Andy, Xavier, and Nicole look at the AFC West.

Denver Broncos: DT Ndamukong Suh

The Broncos struggled in the 2018 season, and their defense was no exception. The Denver Broncos defense ranked 22nd in yards allowed, a harsh difference from the defense of years prior. If Vic Fangio wants to make a defensive difference, signing Ndamukong Suh will do the trick. 4.5 sacks, 59 combined tackles, and two fumble recoveries in the 2018 regular season are good, but below his potential.  His achievements often get overlooked, especially with Aaron Donald in the spotlight. If the Broncos want another Superbowl, they need Suh in orange and blue.

– Chase Murphy

Oakland Raiders: TE Jared Cook

Jared Cook needs to be resigned and would make a big free agent signing for the Oakland Raiders. Cook had a career year in every stat category and was relied on to be a big part of the offense after Amari Cooper was traded.

Being only 31 years old and looking to find a team for his 11th NFL season, Cook showed durability, starting in all but two games in his two years with Oakland. With the NFL Draft coming up and the tight end position not having many good faces out there, it would be a big signing to bring back one of their own to build the offense around.

Since the Raiders have three first-round picks and a second-year head coach they can build for the future by signing Cook and building the team with those three picks.

– Andy Morphew

Kansas City Chiefs: CB Ronald Darby

The Chiefs had a historic season under budding superstar Patrick Mahomes. Unfortunately, the Kansas City defense dragged the entire team down. The front office deserves a fair share of blame for this situation, as nobody beyond Kendall Fuller and Steven Nelson looked like they belong in an NFL Secondary (honorable mention to Charvarius Ward). If GM Brett Veach wants to take some pressure off the shoulders of his young signal-caller, he must make some splash signings for the secondary.

Ronald Darby should be at the top of this list when free agency opens up in March. He is widely considered as a top-tier cornerback, though he is only 25 years of age. The youngster is a great athlete and has all the physical tools to be a real difference maker. Standing at only 5’11”, he has an unusually wide catch radius (93rd percentile). Pair that with a 4.38 40-time (94th percentile) and a 96th percentile burst score, and you have a CB who is prepared to take on the NFL’s best receivers.

This signing would be a great fit for the Chiefs. Kendall Fuller matches up in the slot most of the time so Darby would be free to stay on the outside receivers, where he is comfortable. Sadly, bringing in a player of this caliber would likely mean losing Steven Nelson to free agency, but Darby would be a major upgrade over the Nelson.

The only concern in all of this would be Darby’s injury history. He missed eight games in 2017 with a dislocated ankle (though he did return from that injury in Week 9), and six games in 2018 after tearing his ACL in Week 10. Darby is likely still rehabbing the injury, and it may be hard to transition to a new system if he is not able to start training camp on time. The one positive about this is he may come at a discount because of the injury concerns. He has the resume of a player who should get $10-12 million per year, but it seems that price has gone down.

If the Chiefs can somehow pull this off, it may be enough to make them instant Super Bowl favorites for the 2019 season.

– Xavier Catania

Los Angeles Chargers:  RB Kareem Hunt

Looking towards the 2019 season for Los Angeles’s least favorite team, there are definitely some changes that need to be made. If you need any proof, look no farther then their last game, if you can call it that, against New England. The number one change they need to make? It might be crazy, but they need a new running back. They need to go after Kareem Hunt.

It might be absurd with Melvin Gordon on the squad but, Gordon has bad knees. Trade Gordon to free up the salary cap and get Hunt. The Chargers need a running back who can push through and make things happen. Adding Hunt to the mix with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson would make a lethal running game, and Hunt has been utilized in the Chiefs offense as a receiver, showing his ability to catch out of the backfield. With someone like Philip Rivers throwing to him, their offense is going to be that much stronger.

Hunt’s numbers are consistently stronger then Gordon’s, and yes, maybe it’s because he’s spent less time hurt. Ultimately, Hunt outplays Gordon. If the Chargers are going to keep playing at the level they did this year, they’re going to need Hunt when the playoffs roll around. Plus, it might not be a bad idea to have someone from your division rivals on the squad.

– Nicole Ball

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