Each of the four AFC West clubs spent the offseason loading up on talent in what should be the most hotly contested division in the NFL in 2022.
The Las Vegas Raiders added stars Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. The Denver Broncos traded for Russell Wilson. The Los Angeles Chargers imported Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson on defense. And the Chiefs are still the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, even after swapping Tyreek Hill for JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in their receiver corps.
“It’s going to be fun,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said recently, via The Athletic. “No one thinks anything of us, and I think that’s what makes it fun is you always have to put the ball down and play the football games.”
Carr choosing the “no one believes in us” motto at the start of training camp is slightly faulty. Plenty of analysts are penciling in Vegas to make another trip to the postseason. In what should be a very tight division, someone will be disappointed.
Still, at this point in the offseason, players staying humble and hungry is par for the course.
“You get frustrated when you see other people’s names on things and this and that,” Carr said. “And you’re like, ‘We’re here, too. We feel like we got better, too.’ I thought we made the playoffs. … It doesn’t guarantee anything this year, but it does guarantee that we have some good guys.
“And so we’ve got a chip on our shoulder like always. And as Raiders, I think that’s how we should have it. And we’re excited to compete against the best. My buddy Khalil joined the Chargers. And the Broncos got better. The Chiefs got better. … It’s going to be fun playing against these teams, against some of the best quarterbacks in the game. And that’s what you look forward to. That’s what you want to sign up for.”
With Josh McDaniels in Vegas, coupled with the on-field additions, the Raiders boast a team that should compete against the best if everyone stays healthy.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Carr said. “We’ve got a lot of talent. I’ve been on some really talented teams that didn’t do much. And so I’m just [focused on] the leadership part of it, making sure that the work is being put in.”
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