- Cornerback – The Raiders lost Nnamdi Asomugha last year and cut Stanford Routt already this offseason. Lito Sheppard is also a free agent. There are hopes that Chimdi Chekwa and Demarcus Van Dyke from last year’s draft can step up and be starters but that’s two mid-round picks that will be in their second year. I expect them to target someone in free agency to be a starter.
- Interior Line – Starting center Samson Satele is a free agent. Starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski was drafted to play center but pushed over to guard due to lack of strength there. Expect The Raiders to let Satele walk and bring in a guard to Wis can play his more natural center position.
- Safety – Starting SS Tyvon Branch is a free agent and FS Michael Huff is a potential cap cut so the Raiders could be looking for two new starters.
- Defensive end/outside linebacker – There are rumors that the Raiders are looking to get pieces to move to a 3-4 defense. Kamerion Wimbley has experience playing outside in that scheme but they lack another player that can definitely make that transition and be a starter.
- Nose Tackle – Similar to outside linebacker, the Raiders don’t have a great fit for the nose tackle position either so this is another position they could look to address.
Other Needs: Linebacker depth, offensive tackle depth, Perhaps another wide receiver
- Running back – The Broncos got surprising production out of Willis McGahee this year but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and backup Knowshon Moreno will undoubtedly be released this offseason. Look for the Broncos to target a running back in the first two rounds to come in and rotate with McGahee and be the long-term starter.
- Defensive Tackle – Both starting defensive tackles last year are free agents and Marcus Thomas is not expected to return. Brodrick Bunkley has to be their top free agent priority as he played exceptionally well last year but even if he returns, they’ll need a running mate next to him. Defensive tackle is pretty deep in this class but they would be well-pressed to grab one of Devon Still, Dontari Poe, Michael Brockers, or Fletcher Cox should one of them make it to their pick.
- Quarterback – Tim Tebow isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but backup Brady Quinn is a free agent and they released Kyle Orton mid-way through last season so they will need someone behind him. I expect Elway to target two QBs this offseason, one being a traditional quarterback, another being an option type QB. I wouldn’t be surprised if Darron Thomas of Oregon finds his way to Denver in the late rounds while they either sign a veteran and go with someone like Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins in the early/mid rounds.
- Secondary – Brian Dawkins’ contract got reworked such that he should be hitting free agency this year and is likely to retire. Starting corner Andre Goodman could be a cap casualty and a few depth guys are free agents. They like young safeties Raheem Moore and Quinton Carter as the starting safeties but they’ll need to add a starting cornerback as well as improved depth as Champ Bailey is nearing the end of his career.
- Interior offensive line – Starting guards Chris Kuper and Zane Beadles were both mediocre this season and top backup Russ Hochstein is a free agent. Starting center JD Walton was also one of the worst starting centers in the league last year. Walton and Beadles were rookies so they probably won’t want to give up on them but they would be wise to bring in some real competition that can push for the starting job.
Other needs: Tight end, Wide Receiver, Linebacker
San Diego Chargers
- Offensive line – Marcus McNeill is likely to be released and starting right tackle Jeromey Clary desperately needs to be upgraded. In addition, Jared Gaither is a free agent that could look to cash-in as he had a strong finish to the season and is the top left tackle on the market. Inside, starting center Nick Hardwick is a free agent. The offensive line will undoubtedly be the top priority for the Chargers this offseason.
- Strong Safety – Eric Weddle has the free safety position locked down but they have been consistently looking for a competent starter on the strong side. Bob Sanders was the experiment this year and he, predictably, couldn’t stay healthy so they’ll be on the lookout yet again for a solution.
- Outside linebacker – Antwan Barnes, Shaun Phillips, and Travis LaBoy are the top three outside linebackers for the Chargers and all three of them are entering the final years of their respective contracts. Barnes had a breakout season last year and if he can perform similarly this year, he’ll likely be locked up longterm but Phillips and LaBoy are aging vets with declining skills who could be walking next year. Former first round pick Larry English has been a bust and the Chargers need to get a young player with starting upside in place.
- Tight End – Antonio Gates hasn’t stayed healthy for an entire season in years and top backup Randy McMichael is a free agent whose best days are well behind him. Its time for the Chargers to start looking for a competent, young backup for Gates that can be the heir apparent.
- Running back – Top backup Mike Tolbert is a free agent and they lost change of pace back Jordan Todman last year when they tried to sneak him through waivers to stash on the practice squad. If the Bolts lose Tolbert in free agency (which seems to be a trend when SD RBs hit the market, see Sproles/Turner), they will need to add two new RBs to the fold, preferably one via free agency and one in the mid/late rounds.
Other Needs: Inside linebacker, Wide receiver (particularly if they lose Vincent Jackson), Nose tackle, and defensive end
Kansas City Chiefs
- Offensive line – Right tackle Barry Richardson desperately needs upgraded, center Casey Wiegmann is a free agent that is likely to retire, and Ryan Lilja’s best playing days are behind him. The Chiefs need at least one starter via free agency or the draft, potentially two depending how they feel about Lilja and Rodney Hudson.
- Nose Tackle – Starting nose tackle Kelly Gregg is a free agent and sixth round pick Jerrell Powe only found himself in one game last season. The Chiefs have a ton of cap space and should make a run at Pro Bowler Paul Soliai.
- Quarterback – It remains to be seen how Romeo Crennel feels about his current stable of QBs but they should be on the lookout for at least one QB whether that’s re-signing Kyle Orton or drafting someone in the early rounds.
- Inside Linebacker – Jovan Belcher is an okay player but he’s a mediocre starter at best and the Chiefs would be wise to look for an upgrade at the position.
- Running back – Jamaal Charles is coming off an ACL injury and all the backup running backs are free agents in Jackie Battle, Thomas Jones, and fullback/running back hybrid LeRon McClain. Dexter McCluster is a WR/RB hybrid that I don’t think they trust as a full-time RB. I expect McClain to return but they will need to add one or two more RBs via free agency or the draft to provide better insurance in case Charles has another injury.
Other needs: Tight End, Outside linebacker depth, Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr are expected to return but if either leave via free agency, WR or CB could become big-time needs.