Roster turnover for every AFC West team
Returning for the 2016 season, PFF’s snaps lost series takes a detailed look at the playing time void created by players who have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left via free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we will be looking at what percentage of each teams’ total snaps are in need of replacement, rather than raw snap-count totals. Each team will have a ranking following their percentage of snaps lost, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
- Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2016 snap counts are not considered.
- “Biggest losses” are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
- All snap counts are regular-season only.
With those qualifiers in mind, let’s first dive into the AFC West.
Overall snaps lost: 33.66 percent, 31st-smallest loss in the NFL (2015: 29.81 percent, 25th)
Offensive snaps lost: 43.89 percent, 32nd (2015: 38.70 percent, 30th)
Biggest losses: OT Ryan Harris (1,022), G Louis Vasquez (889), TE Owen Daniels (844), G Evan Mathis (821), QB Peyton Manning (603), QB Brock Osweiler (521)
The heavy losses are at quarterback and in the trenches for the Super Bowl winners. Mathis, now a Cardinal, was the only player listed who finished 2015 with a positive grade. Manning retired after a terrific career, while Osweiler took his services to Houston on a lucrative four-year deal. Harris signed on with the Steelers after his lowest-graded season as a pro. Vasquez was a cap casualty in March, and he remains unsigned. Daniels was likewise cut, and at 33, this may have been his last season in the NFL.
Replacement plan: Although the Broncos recently named Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian co-starters at QB, first-round pick Paxton Lynch (Memphis) should still have a shot at the starting gig as well. Russell Okung (Seahawks) should solidify the tackle position and provide an improvement on Harris after drawing limited interest during free agency. TE Virgil Green will likely see a healthy increase on his 389 snaps from last year, and Jeff Heuerman and Garret Graham should be able to help cover for Daniels, as well. The Broncos are in a bit of a bind at guard, where only relatively unproven options exist, including Max Garcia, Ty Sambrailo, and rookie Connor McGovern (Missouri).
Defensive snaps lost: 23.44 percent, 13th (2015: 20.91 percent, 11th)
Biggest losses: DT Malik Jackson (851), LB Danny Trevathan (759), S David Bruton (497)
The defensive losses are less plentiful than the offensive departures, but are arguably more impactful. Jackson took a well-earned paycheck from Jacksonville after two straight years of excellent grades, while the Bears are hoping Trevathan can fill the hole they’ve had at linebacker over the last few years. Bruton was a solid depth player for the Broncos, and he’ll suit up in the nation’s capital this season while competing for the strong-safety position.
Replacement plan: Bruton played primarily while T.J. Ward dealt with a high ankle sprain, and if Ward can remain healthy, Denver won’t need a replacement at safety. Sylvester Williams and Vance Walker could each see an increase in playing time that would offset most of Jackson’s snaps, even if they don’t quite match his production, and former Texan Jared Crick will figure into that mix, as well. Both Todd Davis and Corey Nelson played sparingly last season, and either could fill in next to the recently-extended Brandon Marshall in Trevathan’s place.
Kansas City Chiefs
Overall snaps lost: 16.48 percent, fifth (2015: 28.35 percent, 23rd)
Offensive snaps lost: 16.29 percent, 15th (2015: 44.71 percent, 31st)
Biggest losses: OT Donald Stephenson (564), G Ben Grubbs (468), OL Jeff Allen (441)
After losing nearly half of their offensive playing time last offseason, the Chiefs survived the 2016 offseason with minimal turnover. Stephenson’s 92.5 pass-blocking efficiency would have been fourth-lowest in the league had he played enough snaps to qualify, and losing him to the division-rival Broncos is hardly a fatal blow. Grubbs played well enough in his lone year with the Chiefs, but was let go after a serious neck injury put his career in jeopardy. Allen parlayed the first positively-graded season of his career into a strong four-year deal with the Texans.
Replacement plan: The right tackle position will be filled nicely by free-agent signing Mitchell Schwartz (Browns), our second-highest-graded RT last season. Grubbs and Allen will collectively leave one guard position available, which should remain an open competition. Zach Fulton, who spent time at both guard positions last season, and fourth-round pick Parker Ehinger (University of Cincinnati) should both see reps on the inside leading up to the start of the season.
Defensive snaps lost: 16.67 percent, fifth (2015: 11.98 percent, fourth)
Biggest losses: CB Sean Smith (853), S Husain Abdullah (443), S Tyvon Branch (435)
While the front-seven will return in almost its entirety, there will be a few faces missing from the back end. Smith was lured to Oakland after several strong years with the Chiefs. Branch found his way to Arizona on a two-year deal to be a part of their safety rotation. Abdullah retired amidst health concerns after three straight positively-graded seasons in Kansas City.
Replacement plan: After having a full season to recover from an ACL tear, Phillip Gaines has the inside track to the starting job opposite second-year CB Marcus Peters. Daniel Sorensen and Jamell Fleming could be in for bigger roles this season (each played fewer than 250 snaps last season), but neither has played particularly well thus far. Furthermore, the Chiefs drafted a KeiVarae Russell (Notre Dame) and Eric Murray (University of Minnesota) in the middle rounds of the draft, so while they may not be able to match the production from last year, they’ll have plenty of options to work with.
Overall snaps lost: 19.90 percent, 13th (2015: 31.38 percent, 29th)
Offensive snaps lost: 12.29 percent, 10th (2015: 25.42 percent, 19th)
Biggest losses: OT J’Marcus Webb (1,089), C Tony Bergstrom (254)
Webb was the only lineman on the Raiders’ underrated front to grade in the red whilst playing at least 200 snaps, and he’ll spend 2016 as a reclamation project in Seattle. Bergstrom filled in at center, and he signed a modest contract and has likely landed a starting job in Houston.
Replacement plan: Bergstrom saw most of his snaps when Rodney Hudson missed time with an ankle injury, and with any luck, Hudson will play 16 games this season. Some questioned the value of the signing, but there’s no doubt that Kelechi Osemele (Ravens) will provide a massive upgrade on the departed Webb, regardless of which position he plays.
Defensive snaps lost: 27.51 percent, 21st (2015: 37.33 percent, 30th)
Biggest losses: S Charles Woodon (1,132), ILB Curtis Lofton (585), OLB Benson Mayowa (381)
Woodson capped off a Hall-of-Fame career with a great season made all the more remarkable in that it came at age 39. Lofton was always intended to be a stopgap solution at linebacker, and his release will likely be addition by subtraction. Oakland was probably smart not to match the offer sheet the Cowboys made for Mayowa, who’s had a limited impact in his short career, generating just two sacks and six hits across 775 NFL snaps.
Replacement plan: First-round pick Karl Joseph (West Virginia) could be a Week 1 starter, but the Raiders brought in former Bengal Reggie Nelson on a very team-friendly deal, so they’ll have a couple options at safety. A former fifth-round pick, Ben Heeney had a respectable rookie year in 2015, and would likely be at least a decent upgrade if he slots in for Lofton full time. Bruce Irvin never lived up to expectations with the Seahawks, but he’s far from a bad player, and has topped 800 snaps in each of the past two seasons, so he should have no trouble filling in for Mayowa. Adding 2016 third-round pick Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State) further strengthens the position, an important move with Aldon Smith’s future in doubt. With limited cornerback turnover, free-agent addition Sean Smith (Chiefs) should steal snaps from either T.J. Carrie or D.J Hayden.
San Diego Chargers
Overall snaps lost: 26.50 percent, 24th (2015: 28.96 percent, 24th)
Offensive snaps lost: 17.51 percent, 16th (2015: 24.84 percent, 17th)
Biggest losses: WR Malcom Floyd (856), TE Ladarius Green (686), TE John Phillips (242), TE/FB David Johnson (230)
A career Charger, Floyd elected to hang up the cleats after 12 years in San Diego. Green will be replacing Heath Miller in Pittsburgh, although the deal he was given suggests that they expect him to blossom once out from under Antonio Gates’ shadow. The loss of Phillips and Johnson ensure that the 36-year-old Gates is their only tight end from 2015 still on the roster.
Replacement plan: With a bit of good luck, the recently-extended Keenan Allen could nearly double his 552 snaps from last year. Even so, the Chargers brought in Travis Benjamin (Browns), and between the two of them, should cover nicely for the loss of Floyd. Second-round pick Hunter Henry (Arkansas) will provide Philip Rivers with a huge target and could exceed Green’s 686 snaps from last season. Gates should see a sizable increase on his 510 snaps from last year, when he was suspended for the first four games of 2015.
Defensive naps lost: 35.49 percent, 29th (2015: 33.08 percent, 25th)
Biggest losses: S Eric Weddle (769), CB Patrick Robinson (713), DE Kendall Reyes (674), DE Ricardo Mathews (525), ILB Donald Butler (525), S Jimmy Wilson (492)
After a bitter break up in San Diego, Weddle inked a four-year deal with Baltimore this offseason. Robinson was allowed to leave in free agency, and the Colts scooped him up on a three-year deal. Reyes and Mathews vacate nearly 1,200 snaps, but they combined for strongly-negative grade last season, and while both found a deal in free agency, neither received more than a one-year contract. Butler’s dead money finally dropped low enough that San Diego could release him from that disaster of a contract. The Chargers elected to waive Wilson late last season, and after spending a brief stint with the Chiefs, he remains available on the free-agent market.
Replacement plan: Weddle was the Chargers’ only defensive back to play at least 75 percent of their defensive snaps last year, so players like Jason Verrett, Jahleel Addae, and Brandon Flowers could all increase their snap counts. Still, it will take more than those three to make up for their losses in the secondary, so expect former Packer Casey Hayward to see a heavy workload. By all accounts, third-overall pick Joey Bosa (assuming he signs with the team before Week 1) will provide a massive upgrade on Reyes and Mathews, and a healthy Corey Luiget should have no trouble topping the 451 snaps he managed last season. Lifelong Seahawk Brandon Mebane will help shore up the run defense after signing a three-year deal in March. Denzel Perryman came on strong late in his rookie year in place of Butler (five straight positive grades from Weeks 11–15) and should provide a much younger, cheaper, and more-effective option in the middle of the defense.