Before you get back to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, here is an update on what has been going on in the National Football League.
Okay, you already know the obvious, the Green Bay Packers re-signed quarterback Aaron Rodgers and in Biblical fashion after 40 days and 40 nights Tom Brady ended his sojourn into retirement. He returns for a 23rd professional season in 2022.
Now for a couple less obvious activities, the player Rodgers named as the best he has ever played with, Davante Adams, skipped town the week after Rodgers confirmed his reservations in Green Bay. Adams opted for a guaranteed contract in Las Vegas that would financially bailout any small town in America facing financial distress in these uncertain times.
The deal reunites the receiver extraordinaire with his college quarterback, Raiders signal caller Derek Carr. Adams and Carr teamed at Fresno State in their college years.
The deal strengthens the Raiders, who overcame a number of off-field distractions and tragedies in 2021, along with a mid-season coaching change, to advance to the playoffs. They were beaten in the Wild Card round in a close battle against the eventual American Football Conference Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
Adams’ arrival in the AFC West Division also strengthens what now appears to be the most talented division in football. It is home of the Kansas City Chiefs, who have won a Super Bowl and advanced to the prior four AFC Championship Games. The Denver Broncos, who finished in last place in the AFC West last year, have added quarterback Russell Wilson to their offense in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. The move somewhat mirrors what the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams did last year, send high draft picks and mortgage your future in hopes of winning now.
It worked for the Rams, but the Broncos have more holes than Los Angeles when they made the deal for Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions last year. By-and-by, these deals for immediate help will offer an initial boost but send the team into talent purgatory in the years to come when they are less likely to improve their roster without high draft choices.
Which means this, teams like the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks could reload in a hurry with the bevy of draft choices they received by trading their talented quarterbacks. Consider this, the Seahawks acquired Wilson with a third round draft choice, got the best years of his career in Seattle, won a Super Bowl and appeared in two with the former Wisconsin signal caller behind center, and now get a team building shipment of draft choices in the trade with Denver.
They shipped him to the Mile High City in return for five draft choices including two firsts, two seconds and a fifth round choice. The first round choice this year is the ninth overall selection in the 2022 draft.
Mark the Seahawks down for long-term gains even if they are now, whether they want to admit it or not, in a rebuilding period.
We know how good the Chiefs are, you don’t have four straight AFC Championship Game appearances and Patriick Mahomes running your offense without gaining a great deal of respect. We know the Raiders are better, and Carr and Adams could be key for a team with a new head coach, Josh McDaniels, and visions of advancing further in the coming season’s playoffs. This shift at quarterback for the Broncos by bringing in the quarterback that drilled them in Super Bowl XLVIII, Russell Wilson beat Peyton Manning in that game 43-8, kindle hopes that Denver can again find a veteran signal caller to lead them to the promiseland. Manning did finish his career with the Broncos by winning Super Bowl 50.
But, what makes the AFC West so darn compelling is the other team in the division, the Los Angeles Chargers. Their quarterback, Justin Herbert, has received rave reviews for his first two professional seasons, but what has been missing is consistent wins. In his rookie year, the Chargers were 7-9 and last year again missed the playoffs with a 9-8 season record.
So what gives?
The Chargers seem to have enough personnel on defense that they should be winning more games than they are if Herbert is as good as advertised.
Then when does the winning start? When do the Chargers crack the playoff field?
In his second year as head coach, Brandon Staley is likely to gain a lot from his first year experience at the helm of a team talented enough to compete with anyone in the league. This off-season, the Chargers strengthened their already talented defense with the acquisition of Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears.
The talent is in place, the coach gains from experience, and the missed playoffs the past two years feed the motivation of the team by my numbers most likely to excel in 2022.
Yep, the AFC West is the strongest division in football and the team that is going to rise to Super Bowl status is the one that has all the pieces and hasn’t cracked the playoff field in recent years, the Los Angeles Chargers.