Looking forward a bit to the off-season, you know that changes are coming for the lower classes. That's what happens in the NFL, where heads roll if a team doesn't perform. The ones usually on the block are the coaches and quarterbacks. That being said, we thought it might be a good time to see which faces might be new next season for the AFC West.
Teams that will most likely make a change include the Raiders and definitely the Broncos. The Chargers will most likely keep Norv Turner in his current position and Philip Rivers isn't going anywhere, so the Chiefs and Chargers will keep one half of the division intact. On the flip side, the Raiders could conceivably clean house, although it's likely that Tom Cable stays in place and Jason Campbell (and possibly Bruce Gradkowski) kept as an option.
The Broncos... well, the whole roof came off that place earlier this week.
The Broncos still offer a storied organization to play and coach for, although the mess will take some time to clean up. But given its market and history, Denver will likely have the sway to bring in a decent coach but to speculate names at this point is an exercise in futility. At quarterback, the Broncos already invested a late first round choice with Tim Tebow and that particular personnel decision held over from Josh McDaniels places a giant anchor weight on the next regime.
The prediction here is that Tebow is eventually shipped out to another team who believed in the Florida product for some additional draft help and that the new coach will have a chance to clean house. Maintaining Kyle Orton, who is having a helluva year for such a frustrating team, is a smart move, but, as of this moment, the Broncos look to have a No. 5 or 6 pick in the draft -- a price point that someone like Cam Newton or Jake Locker (or perhaps another quarterback) should be available. Depending on what they do with Tebow, the Broncos could pull the trigger on another future franchise QB.
The Raiders on the other hand will likely avoid the youthful route and will keep themselves in the hunt for competition in 2011 with another veteran to pair against Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell (if both stick around). Campbell is set to make $4.5 million in 2011, a reasonable figure so he should stick. Gradkowski will be a free agent, but he enjoys favor with Cable, so there's no way to know. However, the veteran quarterback carousel should bring up some intriguing names for a team like the Raiders.
If someone like Carson Palmer or Donovan McNabb were made available, the Raiders would certainly have to look at such options given their current status. The Raiders have a great veteran mix that the right signal caller could take to the next level, and someone like Palmer could enjoy a change of scenery. The same could be said of Matt Hasselbeck if he's cut loose from Seattle. Of course, a crazy deal could upend the whole thing -- Michael Vick, perhaps? -- but here's guessing a nice veteran option will come in and make the Raiders choose the best of them in training camp.
Either way, the Chiefs will likely face familiar faces within the division at quarterback save for the Raiders who seemed as primed as any other team in the NFL for a move at the most important position.