The AFC West has been taken over by the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, with Patrick Mahomes dominating the NFL. As long as Mahomes remains a member of the Chiefs, and Andy Reid is calling the shots, Kansas City is going to be competing for Super Bowls every season. For the rest of the division, the Denver Broncos have an uncertain situation at quarterback, the Las Vegas Raiders haven’t performed well under Jon Gruden, and the Los Angeles Chargers have newfound optimism with Justin Herbert at quarterback and Brandon Staley as their new head coach.
With the regular season approaching, roster cuts are going to be taking place across the NFL. There could also be trades that occur between teams as organizations attempt to piece together rosters that can win games in 2021. But what about trades that could happen during the regular season?
Even though we are months away from the trade deadline, let’s take a look at one ideal trade target for each team in the AFC West.
Denver Broncos: Marcus Davenport, DE, Saints
With Vic Fangio leading the charge in Denver, the Broncos have attempted to put together a defense that can rival any team in the league. Besides getting a healthy Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, Denver has added Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, and Patrick Surtain II to their secondary this offseason. Despite the depth they have at certain positions, the Broncos could use a defensive end to bolster their defensive front.
Marcus Davenport could be an interesting name to keep an eye on as the New Orleans Saints are amid a rebuilding year. Davenport, who was a first-round pick of the Saints back in 2018, hasn’t performed up to expectations thus far in his career. What the Broncos could use is a big-bodied defensive end like Davenport to make Chubb and Miller’s lives easier off of the edge. Also, he’s under contract for two more years for an affordable $13.8 million, so it wouldn’t cost Denver much to absorb the rest of his contract.
Kansas City Chiefs: Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
The trio of Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce has caused headaches for defensive coordinators around the NFL, especially in the AFC West. Despite the personnel they already have on offense, the Chiefs were aggressive in trying to bring in another wideout that could take the offense to another level. Kansas City was unable to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton in free agency, which could lead to them being aggressive on the trade market for a wide receiver in the regular season.
There are a bevy of wideouts that the Chiefs could pursue, but Sterling Shepard is one that would be an ideal fit in their offense. With Hill and Mecole Hardman being field stretchers, Kansas City could use a wide receiver that excels in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. Shepard is an excellent route runner that knows how to create separation on shorter routes and he’s a sure-handed wideout.
With the New York Giants taking Kadarius Toney in the 2021 NFL Draft, Shepard could become expendable in the coming months.
Las Vegas Raiders: Chandler Jones, OLB, Cardinals
Getting after the quarterback has not been a strong suit of the Raiders in recent seasons. Las Vegas has continually whiffed on first-round edge rushers as Clelin Ferrell is expected to start for the team in 2021. While the Raiders did sign Yannick Ngakoue this offseason, they could use another edge rusher that gives them a dynamic duo off of the edge.
Chandler Jones reportedly asked for a trade from the Arizona Cardinals earlier this offseason due to a contract dispute. The Raiders have never been shy in acquiring players that have expensive contracts, and Jones is definitely a player that is worth pursuing. Las Vegas totaled just 21 sacks in 2020 (fourth-fewest in the NFL), 32 sacks in 2019 (eighth-fewest in the NFL), and 13 sacks in 2018 (fewest in the NFL).
Provided the struggles they’ve had at creating pressure, I expect the Raiders to be aggressive in bolstering their pass-rushing unit, especially in the AFC West, where Mahomes and Herbert are quarterbacking offenses.
Los Angeles Chargers: Zach Cunningham, LB, Texans
Upon the hire of Staley as their next head coach, the Chargers are expected to have a much-improved defense. Derwin James is healthy again, Chris Harris Jr. remains a fixture in the secondary, Joey Bosa is expected to be a disruptive force off of the edge, and Kenneth Murray is projected to take a step forward in his second season. Even with Murray operating at inside linebacker, Los Angeles could benefit from adding another inside linebacker.
The Houston Texans should be massive sellers at the trade deadline due to the team in a rebuilding stage amid the Deshaun Watson saga. Zach Cunningham is a common name in trade rumors and he’d fit what the Chargers are looking for at inside linebacker. The athleticism of Murray paired with the sure-tackling of Cunningham could make for a solid duo in the middle of the defense.