AFC West Notes 2/16/03-2/23/03

What's the competition up to for the week of Feb. 16th, 2003 through Feb. 23rd, 2003? Chargers Update takes a look into the brewings of the AFC West division, including possible cut candidates, surgeries, and more information not found anywhere else. This is a weekly premium feature at Chargers Update that tackles the latest issues within the division!

Denver Broncos

Expected to be cut
February 16, 2003

The Broncos are still about $20 million over the cap, so they have some restructuring and cuts to do. They likely will dump reserve tackle Blake Brockermeyer to avoid paying a $4.12 million roster bonus.

Ends comeback bid before it starts
February 17, 2003

According to a report in The Sporting News, Elvis Grbac has decided to end his comeback bid before it even started. The 32-year-old Grbac, who sat out last season after playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, decided he didn't want to uproot his family again. As of now, the only place where Grbac would have an interest in playing again would be Cleveland, where he and his family live.

Should be ready by May
February 18, 2003

C Tom Nalen continues rehab after midseason surgery to repair a torn ACL. He should be ready for the May mini-camp, at least on a limited basis.

Will be an intern coach with NFL Europe
February 18, 2003

Denver Bronco defensive tackle Chester McGlockton will be one of six active NFL players to work as an intern coach with NFL Europe clubs for a month begining next Monday. The new program is designed to give former and current players an opportunity to break into coaching when the NFL Europe training camp opens in Tampa. The new internships will offer "a taste of the coaching experience" NFL Euope managing director John Beake told USA Today. The program is not specifically designed to help minority hiring of NFL coaches, but certainly may help increase opportunities. Keeping players involved in the game is one of the major goals of the program, which will also include 12 retired NFL players.

If talks fails, plenty of others interested
February 19, 2003

The Washington Redskins' pre-free agency period is slow going. The club, after re-signing two pending free agents late in the season, has not agreed to new contracts with any of the 10 players set to become unrestricted on Feb. 28. There has been extensive conversation with defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, far and away the best of the 10. But the team pulled a late switch to tank the latest round of talks, in early February, and although there is optimism about an agreement soon there also are substantial hurdles. Talks are expected to resume at this week's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. If the sides emerge without a deal, Gardener likely will depart. An emotional person with strong feelings about loyalty, Gardener already has wanted to break off negotiations at several points. Gardener is looking for about $15 million over the first three years of his new deal, while the Redskins are offering about $12 million. However, a bigger point of contention is Washington's desire to make the entire signing bonus subject to the future health of Gardener's back. The sides had agreed to a $5 million signing bonus with no restrictions before Washington's late switch. Denver is expected to make a play for Gardener if he doesn't re-sign, and he has expressed an interest in playing for both Cincinnati (where former Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis now is coach) and Dallas (where Bill Parcells recently returned to coach).

Flop helped team rethink scouting process
February 21, 2003

The Broncos hit it big last year in the draft, with second-round pick Clinton Portis running away with NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Just the opposite was true, however, in 2001, with second-round pick Paul Toviessi already out of the league. With hopes of landing more guys like Portis and avoiding mistakes like Toviessi, the Broncos have stepped up their evaluation process. Last year, they began flying in renowned radiologist Charles Ho from California to read magnetic resonance imaging tests on sight in Indianapolis, rather than relying on local doctors to do the same. This year, they will begin administering their own psychological profile test as other teams have been doing for years. "We don't want to overanalyze anything, but we want to hit it from all angles, and make sure we have all our bases covered," Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said. When the Broncos pulled the trigger on Toviessi two years ago, they figured he'd be collecting sacks for years to come as a bookend starter. Instead he has collected only his $1.25 million signing bonus, injury benefit and $500,000 disability policy - having retired before getting the chance to play because of bone-on-bone grinding in his right knee. "I don't want to say we made a mistake," Sundquist said of the medical evaluation of Toviessi. "Now we're grading the MRIs with a fine-tooth comb. We're taking a finer look and are a little bit stricter on the MRIs." The Broncos were aware of Toviessi's past knee problems. He underwent reconstructive surgery during his sophomore year at Marshall but recovered to start all 26 games in his final two seasons. After arriving in Denver as the No. 51 overall pick, he played briefly in training camp before undergoing arthroscopic surgery. A major microfracture procedure followed, as did injections to "lubricate" the joint, but that procedure also was unsuccessful. The Broncos released Toviessi last summer before he ever played a down. Sundquist is convinced Toviessi further injured his knee in camp, resulting in the career-ending situation. But Ho's presence in Indianapolis might alert team officials sooner to potential problems. Denver picks No. 20 overall in April.

Release won't come for a while
February 22, 2003

There's little doubt QB Brian Griese will be released by the Broncos this offseason, but don't expect it to be before June 1. After that, the blow to the team's salary cap will soften a bit.

Wouldn't mind Broncos
February 23, 2003

Center Brett Romberg told the Denver Post that he wouldn't mind ending up with the Broncos and blocking for former college teammate Clinton Portis. "(Broncos offensive line coach Alex Gibbs) saw me throughout my whole college career, and I do fit the bill in terms of Denver's style - the leaner, faster, more mobile athletic center is probably going to fit the bill a bit better than a 6-5, 6-4, 330-pound center. Denver fits the bill nicely," romberg told The Post. "I wouldn't mind playing there." Gibbs visits Miami to see Hurricanes offensive line coach Art Kehoe.

Kansas City Chiefs

Surgery scheduled
February 18, 2003

C Casey Wiegmann was scheduled to undergo a microscopic procedure on a knee.

If new deal not reached, QB could move on
February 19, 2003

Back in January when the Chiefs were wrapping up a 2002 season that saw them emerge as the top scoring offense in the NFL, the retention of quarterback Trent Green seemed like a done deal. It's still likely to happen. But, as the clock ticks down to the March 2 date on which Green is scheduled to receive an $8 million roster bonus, Chiefs president Carl Peterson now is raising the prospect that keeping Green -- who had the AFC's third-highest QB rating (92.6) last season -- is something less than a fait accompli. "We have a contract with him," Peterson said of the three years remaining on the deal Green signed upon joining the Chiefs in 2001. "If we can't reach agreement on a new one, it's our decision as to whether we want to honor that contract or go in another direction." The Chiefs were hardly talking about "going in another direction" last January as they glowed in the accomplishments of an offense that finished No. 4 league-wide in total yards. But that was before Peterson began talks with Jim Steiner, Green's agent, about terms of a new, more cap-friendly contract. Peterson has been burned by Steiner in the past. During the winter of 2001, shortly after luring Dick Vermeil out of retirement to be his new coach, Peterson and Vermeil were led to believe that incumbent Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac -- who was scheduled to receive a $10 million roster bonus that March -- wanted to strike a new deal that would keep him in Kansas City. Turns out that Grbac wanted out of Kansas City, and the Chiefs were forced to release him when a new contract couldn't be struck. A scent of deja vu now is beginning to waft over the Green negotiation, which has been unfruitful in its early stages. This one smells different, though, in that Green has a genuine affection for Vermeil, the man who gave him a chance in St. Louis, then brought him to Kansas City and stood by his side throughout a difficult 2001 season when Green led the NFL in interceptions. The Chiefs seemed so pleased with Green's rebound in '02 -- when he cut his picks in half to 13 while throwing 26 TDs -- that in January they talked about having enough cap money available to honor Green's current contract, which includes a $2 million salary in addition to the $8 million roster bonus. But, they would much rather convert that roster bonus into a signing bonus that could be prorated for cap purposes over the length of a new contract. And until they get this situation resolved, they won't be able to know how much cap room they'll have for shopping on the free agent market when it opens later this month. Hence, a warming up of the rhetoric now that the warm-and-fuzzy afterglow of a successful offensive season has been turned the hard-and-cold reality of contract negotiations.

New contract not team's top priority
February 21, 2003

Though he says he has talked with NFL Offensive Player of the Year Priest Holmes about a new contract, Carl Peterson says striking a new performance-rewarding deal with the running back is not a club priority just yet. "We talked about priorities -- about getting (WRs Eddie) Kennison and (Dante) Hall re-signed, about working on (prospective free agent LB) Mike Maslowski and then looking at free agency," Peterson said. "Before we talk with him we have to settle those matters and see where we are cap-wise. "Besides, Priest hasn't come to me and said this is a pressing problem." Holmes, however, has said in other forums that he believes his performance over the past two seasons -- when he's been the NFL's most productive running back -- deserves a new contract with a substantial pay rise. Peterson doesn't necessarily disagree, but he also quickly notes that Holmes' current five-year contract -- which still has three years remaining -- already provides for performance-related salary increases. "The contract he signed two years ago had (performance) accelerators that increased his salary substantially in years 3, 4 and 5," Peterson said. "He's certainly had two exceptional years, and I've talked with him personally about discussing both his current and future contracts."

Setback in rehab?
February 22, 2003

Most of his discussions with RB Priest Holmes concern rehabilitation as opposed to renegotiation, GM Carl Peterson said. The Chiefs continue to maintain that Holmes is making slow but steady progress in recovering from the hip injury -- still described as a slow-healing contusion with no damage to the hip socket itself -- that knocked him out of the season's final two games last year. But even the Chiefs' own website acknowledges that Holmes experienced something of a setback just last week. Bob Gretz of the team's radio crew, who writes a column for the team's web page, reported that Holmes' hip strength had been testing at about 80 to 85 percent of normal during recent weeks of rehab work. But after Holmes tried to force the recovery schedule with some running last week, he tested out at only 75 percent. But the Chiefs continue to insist that Holmes is on the road to a full recovery. "Other than that small setback, everything with the injury is proceeding on schedule and Holmes should be more than ready in July when the Chiefs go to Wisconsin for training camp," Gretz wrote.

Release would save team $5.5 million
February 23, 2003

The Chiefs, whose current contract commitments are reported to be almost $7 million over next season's $74.8 million salary cap, are expected to release DE Duane Clemons. Clemons, a starting DE who never did provide the pass rush the Chiefs hoped to get when they acquired him three years ago, would give them the biggest cap savings of possible players to be cut. He is due to receive a $3.5 million roster bonus, and his release could save the Chiefs almost $5.5 million. Clemons' cap number for 2003 is $7.5 million.

Oakland Raiders

Tampa might be option
February 16, 2003

Free agent RB Randy Jordan is a special teams captain who probably won't garner a lot of interes on the market, unless it is by Jon Gruden in Tampa.

Expected back<>br> February 18, 2003

Free agent LB Eric Johnson, a special teams star, is expected to be re-signed.

Questions remain unanswered
February 19, 2003

Questions about Barret Robbins' disappearance Super Bowl week and his NFL future remain unanswered nearly a month after the incident. One of the continuing questions is why the Raiders, knowing Robbins' history of depression, do a better job chaperoning him prior to the biggest game of his life. "You can only do so much," Callahan said. "We had league security where we were staying. There is just a point in time where you can only do so much as a coach and an organization when someone slips through the cracks. "His situation didn't mandate personal bodyguards around the clock. He has been with us for the last few years (eight all together). I've been with him personally and he's conducted himself professionally on the road. "Why this occurred at this point in time, I don't know. But I would not say it was because of the lack of security."

Surgery not expected
February 21, 2003

Wide receiver Jerry Porter sustained a partial tear of the posterior cruciate ligament but there are no plans for surgical intervention. Recovery time is an estimated six weeks.

Might miss half of next season
February 22, 2003

Tight end Roland Williams will require major knee surgery that could keep him out as long as through the first half of next season.

No decision on surgery yet
February 23, 2003

A decision has not yet been made on surgery for defensive end Trace Armstrong (torn groin).

News compiled from ChiefsInsider.com, BroncosUpdate.com & SilverandBlack.com

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