AFC West mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

PJ from Colorado Springs wonders if the Broncos could trade Brandon Marshall for fellow unhappy receiver Anquan Boldin.
BW: I could see where you could think this. It would be a decent compromise for both teams. Neither team wants to lose their star receivers, but, obviously, both Marshall and Boldin would be nice replacements for one another. But there are some road blocks. The biggest, I believe, is if Arizona would be willing to give Marshall a new contract. He'll want a new deal. The Cardinals have been reluctant to give Boldin a deal, and he has much less baggage than Marshall. So that could be a hard sell for Arizona.

Kyle from Hagerstown, MD wants to know if I believe the San Diego defense will be improved in 2009.

BW: I do, yes, especially in the passing game. San Diego really struggled last season against the pass. It improved as the season wore on, but it was never great. There are a few reasons why I see it improving. Of course, it starts with the return of linebacker Shawne Merriman. He is one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL. San Diego missed him dearly last season as he missed all but one game with a knee injury. The Chargers just didn't have a presence without Merriman. His return should provide a major spark. Plus, the team is having an entire offseason working with new defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. He replaced Ted Cottrell at midseason. A full year of Rivera's influence should also help. Add in a healthy Antonio Cromartie (he slumped after injuring his hip early in the season) and top pick, pass-rusher Larry English, and I see a much-improved defense.

Tyler wants to know if the Raiders could sign free-agent linebacker Derrick Brooks.

BW: I know that Brooks wants to play, but I don't know if he is a perfect fit for the Raiders. I think there may be other fits for Brooks besides Oakland. The Raiders are OK at linebacker. The one area where Brooks, who was cut by Tampa Bay this offseason, could really help Oakland is in a leadership role. Oakland has showed that leadership is a priority this offseason. It signed fullback Lorenzo Neal and defensive end Greg Ellis in the past several weeks. So Brooks could appeal to the Raiders in that regard.