2021 NFL Free Agency Grades: AFC West

The AFC West could be a bloodbath this year if the Chargers take a major step forward and Denver gets consistent play from the quarterback position. Each team found a way to get better through free agency, minus Las Vegas, who decided to offload a few surprising players. They were the most active when it came to moving guys in and out, but the rest of the division solidified some needs before the NFL Draft.

Denver BroncosDenver Broncos: B-

Key Additions
CB Kyle Fuller
CB Ronald Darby

Key Departures
RB Phillip Lindsay
CB AJ Bouye

Sure the Broncos could have been a bit more active when it came to addressing the offensive line or adding depth in the front seven, but the signings of Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller give them needed help in the secondary. After signing Justin Simmons to a long-term deal, that was likely priority one of the offseason. They also extended Von Miller.

Denver opted not to pay Phillip Lindsay and also let AJ Bouye walk. The Broncos could add a running back late in the draft, but the duo of Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman isn’t a bad one for the short term. Bouye’s absence won’t be felt given the acquisitions, so overall the Broncos will look towards true needs in the draft.

Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs: A

Key Additions
OT Kyle Long
OG Joe Thuney
OT Orlando Brown (Via Trade)

Key Departures
OT Eric Fisher
OT Mitchell Schwartz
C Austin Reiter

The glaring need for the Kansas City Chiefs was the offensive line. Losing Eric Fisher, Austin Reiter, and Mitchell Schwartz created a massive hole, which we saw in the Super Bowl. They signed Kyle Long and Joe Thuney but went the extra mile in trading a couple of picks for Orlando Brown Jr from the Baltimore Ravens. Brown allowed just three sacks last year, while Thuney has allowed three in the last two years. While giving up a pick might be looked at as a loss, they essentially took a proven tackle away from a rival that has been chasing them the last few years in exchange for an unknown player.

While the Chiefs have some secondary needs within the front seven on the defensive side, this isn’t as big of a deal given the offense can put up 30+. They will be willing to give up the run again and focus on a better secondary and trying to get to the quarterback.

Oakland RaidersLas Vegas Raiders: D

Key Additions
DT Quinton Jefferson
DE Yannick Ngakoue
RB Kenyan Drake
DE Solomon Thomas

Key Departures
OT Trent Brown
C Rodney Hudson
OG Gabe Jackson
WR Nelson Agholor

Las Vegas is likely going to stay in the same spot they were last year because they consistently make these knee-jerk moves. The Raiders blew up the offensive line by shipping off multiple players. None of it really went back into the offensive line after they signed three defensive linemen and then Kenyan Drake. The Drake signing makes zero sense with Josh Jacobs there. While the front seven should be improved, the secondary is average at best, and in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, you are going to need to at least have a defense to slow them down, let alone an offense to keep up.

The Raiders saw Nelson Agholor come in and be a viable receiver, but he left for New England. We didn’t get to see the Henry Ruggs experiment last year, but the passing on CeeDee Lamb might haunt them for years to come. Las Vegas will look for Bryan Edwards to step up, and while they took some names at the wide receiver later, I wouldn’t be surprised if they looked at one in the draft. They have plenty of picks to address more needs, but they will need to hit on them to make a real impact next year.

Los Angeles ChargersLos Angeles Chargers: C+

Key Additions
TE Jared Cook
OT Matt Feiler
C Corey Linsley

Key Departures
TE Huner Henry
CB Casey Hayward

The Chargers had some big needs coming into the offseason as they needed to revamp their offensive line and secondary. They also needed to add an edge rusher. While they didn’t make huge moves, Matt Feiler and Corey Linsley were great signings as they head into the draft, where they can add to those with a good class of offensive lineman. However, they didn’t add to the secondary when there were some enticing players out there who ended up landing elsewhere on pretty friendly deals.

Hunter Henry ended up signing with the Patriots, which led to Jared Cook coming over from New Orleans. Cook is a different style of tight end who can stretch the field and make plays after the catch. However, he isn’t as reliable as Henry in terms of pass-catching. When you have Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen, that might not matter as much. I’d like to see the Chargers still add another weapon in the draft, which there wasn’t a ton of names in this free-agent class that made sense for the Chargers. So I like that they didn’t make an overpay here.

Jason Guilbault is the Brand Content Manager for Lineups.com, powered by Catena Media. He has worked 10+ in the sports betting & iGaming space as a writer and content manager. Jason has also written for DailyFantasyCafe, NBAMockDraft, & FantasyPros. He aims to bring the best sports data & insight to the industry for both novice & advanced users.

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