AFC West News: March 30- April 5

What's the competition up to for the week of March 30th, 2003 through April, 5th 2003? Chargers Update takes a look into the brewings of the AFC West division, including the Oakland Raiders adding a defensive back originally from Weber State, Kansas City player visits, updates on Priest Holmes, and Denver releasing players and so much more. Find out here! This is a weekly premium feature at Chargers Update that tackles the latest issues within the division!


Oakland has signed 6-1, 200 pound Anthony Parker a defensive back out of Weber State. Parker spent the last four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers playing in 21 games. He had eight tackles last season playing in five games.

Parker is a quality athlete, who has good size and speed. He is capable of playing bump and run coverage, has quick feet and good closing speed. He competed in track and field at Weber State, with his best event being long jump.

Earned All-Big Sky first-team honors in college after posting 39 tackles, five passes defensed and four interceptions. He will add depth to the Oakland Raiders backfield and may stick on the team come the start of the season.

Returning a personal decision
March 30, 2003

By all accounts, 32-year-old Lincoln Kennedy should be home in Atlanta with wife Crystal, having retired, preparing for perhaps a life in broadcasting, in acting or maybe even in politics. In a game that plays no favorites when it comes to physical infirmities, Kennedy has suffered more than most. Pounding along the interior line have caused him back troubles, shoulder problems, aches in his size 18 feet. Those are the "small things." Kennedy knows worse. In recent years, he has been plagued by headaches that ultimately reached migraine status. The migraines would stick around for days ... so bad there were days he didn't feel capable of carrying on conversations. And for Kennedy -- the great communicator and the jolly giant -- carrying on conversations is as normal as breathing. Kennedy asked no quarter. Hazard of the profession, he said. But those who have watched him struggle, have been sympathetic. Last December, one Bay Area columnist penned an entire piece urging Kennedy to retire and make use of his other gifts before more damage had been done. And so it was that Kennedy left the wreckage of the Raider season behind in San Diego and returned home to ponder his future. There was more to ponder than merely his health. The club's financial health was also at stake. He was due to see his $1.4 million salary in 2002 jump to $4.4 million in 2003. In spite of three straight Pro Bowl seasons -- on the heels of a start in the NFL when he had been considered a first round bust -- he didn't even know how welcome he would be. He and Crystal went into a huddle. "She understood the pain I was going through," he said. "From her perspective, she didn't think it was really wise for me to put it out there because it left doubt in peoples' minds. That made for more things that could be used against me in a negative way. Her thing was, `Know what? If it is really that bad for you, maybe you should hang it up.' " Kennedy did not want to make a snap decision. After a month pondering the future, the deadline for the first order of business was the last day of February when the Raiders had to overcome a $46 million salary cap overrun. Several days in advance of the deadline, he agreed to a new deal, a two year extension that took him through the 2008 season. He will receive $1.5 million in base pay this year but a lucrative signing bonus made up for it. "I still hadn't decided (about continuing to play) at that point," Kennedy said. "I was basically restructuring the deal to help the Raiders get under the cap regardless of my decision. At first, I didn't think I was (coming back)." The first week of March he was back at work. "I feel I have to start early," he said. "I don't have time to sit around for eight weeks and let my body heal. I have to start working again. If I was going to come back, I needed to get ready as soon as possible." With work came conviction and with conviction came Kennedy's decision to come back for another crack at the brass ring. Part of his decision was stubbornness. "I have always felt I was never going to let the game dictate to me when it was time to go," he said. Part of it was fulfillment. "I've always felt that once you've accomplished everything in this sport, there is really no reason to hang around," he said. "One of my sentiments has always been that the moment I have reached that pinnacle in terms of success, it will be time to step away." For Kennedy the pinnacle wasn't reaching the Super Bowl. It was the winning of it. And it is difficult to find a Raider that didn't leave San Diego with a feeling that fulfillment had not been achieved. "I looked back on all those years when we weren't successful and how players went out and tried even harder than they had in years previous to finally get acknowledgement. We finally have started to get that."

Game vs. Raiders led to signing
March 30, 2003

The club signed wide receiver Scottie Montgomery, a former Carolina Panther and Denver Bronco with 12 NFL receptions for 109 yards in 24 games. As was the case when the Raiders signed kick returner Ronney Jenkins from San Diego, the Raiders were impressed with Montgomery's work in a game against them. He had a career-high four catches for 34 yards against Oakland in December of 2001.

Numbers behind new deal
March 30, 2003

The only new move made in the last week was accomplished when the club resigned unrestricted free agent RB Tyrone Wheatley. Wheatley signed a cap-friendly seven-year deal worth an estimated $11 million. However, the back-loaded deal only calls for base salaries of $655,000, $710,000 and $800,000 over the next three years -- and the cap hit for this season figures to be slightly under $600,000.

Could start if Oakland parts ways with Robbins
April 1, 2003

Raiders long-snapper Adam Treu could be back as the starting center if the team releases Barret Robbins. Oakland will probably address center in the draft. The question is how soon?

Visits with Saints
April 5, 2003

With a possible deal for Patriots safety Tebucky Jones on hold, the Saints continue to search for a safety in the free-agent market. Ex-Raiders safety Anthony Dorsett visited the Saints late last week, while Dolphins safety Arturo Freeman, a restricted free agent, is expected in this week.


The Denver Broncos have released Jeff Brunson a DB out of Colorado. They also released offensive tackle Wayne Smith of Appalachian State.

Will return
April 1, 2003

QB Steve Beuerlein, who just last month was leaning toward retirement, told Mike Shanahan he will return next season, the Broncos coach said in a statement.

Has surgery
April 1, 2003

WR Ed McCaffrey had surgery Tuesday to fix a "sports hernia." McCaffrey is expected to miss between two and three months.

Linebacker agrees to Bronco contract
April 2, 2003

Former San Francisco 49er linebacker Quincy Stewart has agreed to a one-year $375,000 deal with the Broncos. He is expected to play both on special teams and as a linebacker. Stewart led the 49ers in special-teams tackles last season with 20.

Safety to play for Broncos
April 2, 2003

Former New York Jets safety Nick Ferguson will play for the Denver Broncos in 2003. Ferguson agreed to a $450,000 one year deal with Denver. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Ferguson, who started one game in three seasons with the Jets, said he believes he will be able to compete with Sam Brandon for the starting free safety position, according to a story in the Denver Post.

Reportedly says he's returning
April 2, 2003

The Rocky Mountain News reported that TE Shannon Sharpe has told coaches he will return next season, although he continues to waver publicly.

Broncos' RB expected to visit Detroit
April 3, 2003

According to the Denver Post, Broncos' running back Olandis Gary may visit the Detroit Lions on Friday, or during the course of the weekend.

Gary, 5-11, 220 pounds, rushed for just 147 yards in two starts last season. He has visited with several teams thus far, and it has become public knowledge that he will not re-sign with Denver after losing his starting position to rookie standout Clinton Portis in 2002.

The report did state that the Jacksonville Jaguars were the lead team for Gary's services -- but only in a back-up role.

Could see himself in Buffalo
April 5, 2003

FA running back Olandis Gary, who recently visited with Bills coaches, on filling a backup role: "In the NFL, you need two backs and I believe in Denver, we had four at one time. I think there is some synergy here. Travis (Henry) is a great back and I think I can complement him well with some of my talents and abilities. It's a deal where I wouldn't say backup, but you come in and maybe split the time 30-70. Travis is human. He does get tired. So there's an opportunity there."


Vonnie Holiday was in for a visit in Kansas City and it appears it is down to the Chiefs and Arizona for his services. Also updates on Priest Holmes and the Chiefs search for a backup.

Has minor surgery on hip
March 30, 2003

The surprising news that Priest Holmes underwent arthroscopic surgery on his injured hip this past Tuesday (March 25) was either A) a further indication that Holmes was hurt far worse than he or the team originally believed, or B) a temporary setback that will have long-term benefits. The answer could be either, neither or both of the above. To hear the Chiefs tell it, Holmes surgery was a relatively minor clean-up procedure to remove scar tissue that was causing Holmes pain as he recovers from the Dec. 15 injury that knocked him out of the season's final two games and cost him a shot at the NFL single-season touchdown record. The surgery was performed Dr. Mark Phillippon, a Fort Lauderdale associate of Chiefs team physician Dr. Jon Browne. The Chiefs were encouraged because Phillippon performed a similar successful surgery on former Chiefs defensive end Duane Clemons. In his only public pronouncements on his recovery, Holmes indicated he was pleased with the slow progress he was making. He was feeling so good, in fact, that he may have induced a minor setback when he attempted to do some light running before his doctor cleared him to do so. The Chiefs still maintain that after a four- to six-week recovery from the arthroscopic surgery, Holmes will be ready when the Chiefs open their Wisconsin training camp on July 19. His injury, they continue to say, was to tissue and muscle around the hip area, not to the ball-and-socket joint. Nonetheless, Holmes will miss the team's spring mini-camp. "We look forward to having Priest at 100 percent for the beginning of training camp in River Falls," predicted team president Carl Peterson. It remains the Chiefs' hope that the clean-up scope will, in fact, hasten Holmes' recovery. "The long-range prognosis was always positive and still is positive," said Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil. "This just speeds up the process. All I know from what Dr. (Jon) Browne (the Chiefs team physician) says is that he will feel better today than he did yesterday. But there are no guarantees." Just as there are no guarantees that Holmes would report to camp even if he is fully healthy. Holmes wants a new contract -- something he's certainly earned after a two-year period in Kansas City during which he's been the NFL's most productive running back. But given the uncertainty of his hip injury, the Chiefs aren't about to rip up the final three years of his existing deal and offer him a new one until they see exactly what they've got. Peterson, though saying he will not redo Holmes' current deal, says he might consider an extension -- with the appropriate signing bonus -- once he knows that Holmes can play anywhere close to his ability of last season. "I'll ask a rhetorical question: Are you ever going to believe that he's 100 percent until you see him with his pads on scoring a touchdown?" Peterson said. "We definitely need some time to determine that. There's only so much you can determine without the pads on." This puts Holmes in a Catch 22 situation. He might have to hold out to press his position for a new deal. But, in order to assure the club that he's healthy enough to get a lucrative extension, Holmes will have to play. Good catch, that Catch 22.

Suspended four games
March 30, 2003

Running back Mike Cloud, a man currently without a contract for the 2003 season, won't be playing the first four games of the year for anyone. Cloud, a career backup during his four seasons in Kansas City, received a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. 2003 season NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, while declining to comment on the specifics of Cloud's violation, said the suspension applies to the first four games of 2003 whether Cloud is under contract or not. "If he signs after four games, there is no further suspension," Aiello said. Cloud isn't expected to return to the Chiefs, which drafted him in the second round of the 1999 draft. Given a chance to step up after Priest Holmes was lost for the final two games last year, Cloud rushed for only 52 yards on 26 carries.

Chiefs missed out on free agent
March 30, 2003

The Chiefs bid to find an experienced backup to Priest Holmes -- who might not even play in 2003 either because of injury or contract holdout -- took a hit when Buffalo free agent RB Shawn Bryson signed a one-year deal with Detroit. The Chiefs thought they had a pretty good inside track on Bryson.

Two-team race?
April 1, 2003

With interest from Seattle and Philadelphia waning, DE Vonnie Holliday is likely to sign with Arizona or Kansas City. He was scheduled to visit the Chiefs on Tuesday, and the Arizona Republic reported the Chiefs have offered Holliday $25 million over six years.

Could the Chiefs take him in round one?
April 4, 2003

The TFY Draft Preview has learned Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace is making his way up draft boards and ranks highly on the Kansas City Chief list. Pace was flown out to the Chiefs facility last week and head coach Dick Vermeil will personally work him out tomorrow in Winston Salem. Could the Chiefs take him in round one? Possibly according to the source we spoke with as Pace blew scouts away earlier this month running in the mid 4.6 range during Pro Day workouts, or they may trade down and select him.

Browns to be given a last chance
April 5, 2003

Jamir Miller's agent, Leigh Steinberg, will be contacting the Browns again over the weekend to see if the team wants to make a bid for Miller's services. Steinberg has said that Miller is "interested and hopeful" that the Browns make an offer. Miller has also talked to Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore, although none of those teams appear to have put together a contract offer yet.

Backup (insurance) becoming a priority
April 5, 2003

The Chiefs continue to publicly express confidence that RB Priest Holmes, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his injured hip March 25, will be fully recovered and ready for training camp in mid-July. But because they don't know that for sure -- certainly not well enough to talk about a new contract for Holmes, who has raised the prospect that he might not play without one -- they know they need someone on hold who can step up and become an effective every-down back. Mike Cloud, Holmes' backup for the past two seasons, won't be that guy. He's an unrestricted free agent who'll be looking for work elsewhere after he failed to produce in the season's final two games last year following the Week 14 injury that sidelined Holmes. The Chiefs would like to get an experienced player, maybe even one of the downward side of his career, who could be excited about the prospect of seeing plenty of playing time even in the role of designated backup. "I think everyone would agree that we have a concern that if Priest should be injured again, or if he's not up to playing 16 games, we need a back with the capability of being an every-down back," said Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders. Finding a proven player willing to back up Holmes -- who handled the ball on 383 of Kansas City's 965 offensive plays last year (almost 40 percent) -- could be difficult. Except, that is, until the prospect in question realizes there could be as much work here as he wants. "The way things are going now with free agency and the salary cap, there might be a lot of players who've been in the league who'd like to come in and back up one of the best players in the league," Saunders said. "They might be at the point in their career that they don't want to play every down anymore, but they know they can play another two or three years if they play in a limited role." The Chiefs were disappointed when Shawn Bryson, a capable free agent backup at Buffalo, rejected Kansas City's bidding and signed a one-year deal with Detroit. And so the Chiefs search continues. Prospects will come available in the draft, and possibly after June 1 when salary cap casualties become available. "We'd like to have a guy in line with what Priest does -- a patient draw runner who run screens and catch the ball out of the backfield," Saunders said. "We'd probably move in that direction. "But right now we're going in with the idea that Priest will be with us. I know there's a lot of speculation, but according to our doctors who know a lot more about this than I do, Priest will be fine, and he believes that too. In my mind, he'll be 100 percent ready to go. "But even then, you always have to keep the thought in mind about what happens if he does get hurt. We're not going in thinking we've got to replace Priest Holmes, but we know we need a quality backup player with those same kind of qualities."

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