Q&A with Adam Caplan: AFC West Outlook

Herm Edwards (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Sirius NFL Radio host and Scout.com Senior Reporter Adam Caplan answers questions from the fans of each of Scout.com's AFC West team sites. Will the Chargers or Broncos make a run at Julius Peppers? What front office changes are in store in Kansas City and Oakland? Learn the answers to these questions and more inside.

Q: What positions will the Denver Broncos look at address in free agency?

A: Here are the priorities for Denver going into 2009:

Offense

--Running Back: They really don't have one back who could stay healthy in 2008; rookie Ryan Torain was supposed to be the starter of the future, but he suffered a torn ACL. I'd make a run at Derrick Ward, who offers the kind of versatility that Denver will be looking for. The only drawback is he turns 29 in August.

Defense

--Defensive End: Denver's top picks out of the 2007 draft, Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder, have contributed very little thus far and Denver has a poor pass rush as it is. I'd go after Terrell Suggs or Julius Pepper or on a lower scale, Dallas' Chris Canty. He's a decent pass rusher who plays the run well.

--Defensive Tackle: The Broncos must find an interior lineman who can stop the run. Tampa Bay's Jovan Haye fits this mold well.

--Free/Strong Safety: Marquand Manuel and Marlon McCree are journeymen, so the defense needs to be upgraded here.


DE Julius Peppers
Craig Jones/Getty

Q: How much would an impact defensive end help the Kansas City Chiefs? Who would be the better fit, Julius Peppers or Terrell Suggs?

A: Getting someone to play opposite Tamba Hali has to be a priority, as is overall depth on their D-line.

Peppers, while he bounced back somewhat after his disastrous performance from 2007, still isn't consistent enough. Suggs has shown the ability to drop into coverage if need be and he's probably a more versatile player than Peppers.

You have to also look at who will be running the defense next year, since there is a possibility of a coaching change.

Q: Does Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable stand a chance at keeping the head coaching job, despite the team's horrible performance? If not, who will the team look at? Jim Fassel? Dennis Green?

A: I think he'll get consideration, but league sources believe the team will go with a coach who will be expected to develop QB JaMarcus Russell. Fassel, while many question whether he's a good head coach, has done a good job in the past with quarterbacks such as Boomer Esaison, John Elway and Kerry Collins.

Q: Is this the year San Diego Chargers GM A.J. Smith has to make a big free agent pickup, likely on the offensive or defensive line? Or will he continue to build through the draft and hope his picks pan out?


RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Stephen Dunn/Getty

A: He has to do a few things on offense. LaDainian Tomlinson regressed a bit this season, whether it was due to injury or age. Tomlinson turns 30 in June, so it remains to be seen if he can rebound from a disappointing season. They need to figure out who is the future at that position, sooner rather than later.

OG Mike Goff is unsigned for 2009 and turns 33 in January, so I'd suspect they will be looking for a younger player here.

Defensively, they must regain the solid pass rush from the past which was largely gone this season. The weakness of the pass rush impacted the secondary play this season. They could use an impact defensive end to play opposite Luis Castillo.

Q: How are the Broncos going to keep all their playmakers on the field after people come back from injuries? Will Wesley Woodyard be moved to strong safety? Will Spencer Larsen get another shot at middle linebacker? Could Jarvis Moss be moved to linebacker?

A: The only player that they have to probably consider making room for is WLB Wesley Woodyard, who played very well when filling in for D.J. Williams.

Injured starters such as Boss Bailey and Tom Nalen may not be back in 2009. Nalen may retire and Bailey has a $2 million roster bonus due before the draft.

Woodyard really played well at WLB and fits in that position quite well, so he could continue to back up there. As for playing strong safety, it's possible. The Seahawks tried that with Michael Boulware and it didn't wind up working in the end, but he had his positive moments there. Boulware was an undersized collegiate linebacker who got moved to strong safety.

Q: Who are the top-three choices for the vacant general manager job in Kansas City? Will Herm Edwards stick around or will the new GM want to bring in his own coach?

A: 1) Scott Pioli/VP of Player Personnel; and 2) Tom Heckert/Philadelphia Eagles GM.

More names will emerge. I don't see Pioli taking that job. Cleveland, if they make a strong play for him, is a possibility.

As for Edwards, it depends if he has ties to the new GM. If he doesn't, he may lose his job.


Al Davis
Paul Sakuma/AP

Q: Is Al Davis considering any real front office changes in which he actually cedes control? Do you think it is time for him to retire?

A: That won't happen until he retires. He won't give up power until he can't run the team anymore.

And yes, I think he should reture. I don't see him being able to do a good enough job due to the results on the field and his failing health.

Q: There are some rumors that LaDainian Tomlinson could be moved this offseason. Is there any chance of this actually happening? What could the Bolts get in return at this point?

He's signed through 2011, but the proration left on his contract isn't very much (just above $2 million). So releasing or trading him would save the Chargers a significant amount of money unless his base salaries ($6.75 million-2009, $8 million-2010, $9.275-2011) are guaranteed.

I couldn't see them getting more than a third-round pick because of his age and I don't see them dealing him. They need to draft his eventual successor in 2009.

Adam Caplan is Scout.com's national NFL reporter. He is also a host/analyst on Sirius NFL Radio. Caplan specializes in free agency, player signings and the draft. You can read more of his articles on the Scout.com NFL Experts site.

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