The NFL is marching back part II: The emergence of the AFC West
Movement in the AFC West headlines the latest NFL offseason buzz
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver
March has been filled with madness and college basketball is only one part of it.
On March 8, the NFL’s free agency period kicked off. Big name players like Chris Godwin, Mike Williams and of course, Aaron Rodgers have re-signed with their squads.
Every season, a different division is declared as the league’s best. The NFC West had three of its four teams go to the playoffs last season, one being the Rams. In 2020, the NFC East was declared as the worst division in NFL history as none of its teams had a winning record.
The AFC West (Chiefs, Chargers, Raiders, Broncos) has already claimed that top spot, as talent has flown in this offseason.
Major trades also began to form on that day as future hall of fame QB Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos. The Broncos also signed defensive end Randy Gregory after a career year.
After the re-signing/franchise tag period ended, Pro Bowlers J.C. Jackson, Chandler Jones and Davante Adams became unrestricted free agents.
The Los Angeles Chargers were eliminated from playoff contention by the Las Vegas Raiders during their last regular season game in overtime. The Chargers were the better team on paper, but still couldn’t get it done.
A couple months later, the Chargers improved their roster even further by signing lockdown corner J.C. Jackson and trading for three-time all-pro linebacker Khalil Mack. These two will join a defense with superstars like Joey Bosa and Derwin James.
The Raiders also made some moves to counter their division rival by signing two-time all-pro linebacker Chandler Jones and arguably the NFL’s best receiver Davante Adams.
The AFC West continued to improve as the Kansas City Chiefs signed wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu’s career has definitely taken a downward spiral since his rookie season, but he’s still a household name.
On July 6, 2020, the Chiefs gave QB Patrick Mahomes a ten-year extension worth $500 million.
A year later, Mahomes gave $17 million of the contract back to the front office because they couldn’t afford to pay certain players. However, they were still having trouble re-signing players like Tyrann Mathieu.
This morning, those financial troubles have likely vanished.
Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks (including picks this year’s No. 29 and 50) The Dolphins will be giving Hill a four-year, $120 million extension, including $72.2 million guaranteed.
The Chiefs now have the money to sign more players to this super division, and more picks for the upcoming draft.
The AFC West will be a force to be reckoned with, but there is one issue: playoff spots.
Only one member of each division earns the first four spots in the playoffs. The three wild card spots are fair game.
The Buffalo Bills signed future first ballot hall-of-famer Von Miller to their already-elite defense.
The Indianapolis Colts traded for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and former MVP QB Matt Ryan. Ngakoue will join Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner to become one of the best defensive trios in all of football.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have added a plethora of talent so far this offseason. Having the first overall pick in this draft can also give them a shot at the playoffs.
Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper joined the Cleveland Browns, a team with lots of talent on both sides of the field.
The Dolphins now have two of the fastest wide receivers ever, along with the signing of left tackle Terron Armstead to give Tua Tagovailoa more time to launch it to Hill and Waddle.
There are 16 teams in the AFC. Only seven will make it.
The NFL begins April 28 in Las Vegas. The regular season kicks off on Sept. 8.