Eight in the Box: Playing for a contract

A look at a player entering a contract year on each AFC West team who must deliver in 2013:

Denver Broncos: Left tackle Ryan Clady. Clady will likely deliver just fine in 2013 -- he's an upper-echelon left tackle whom the Broncos have given the franchise tag. He had a strong season as Peyton Manning’s blind-side protector in 2012. Denver wants to sign Clady to a long-term contract and an agreement is likely. However, there is a good chance it won’t come until after the season -- so Clady must continue to play well. He is missing the Broncos' offseason program because of a rotator cuff injury, though that is not expected to be an issue during the season. If Clady continues to play at a high level, he will surely get a rich new contract, whether in Denver or elsewhere.

Kansas City Chiefs: Left tackle Branden Albert. Albert’s contract has been a story all offseason. He was given the franchise tag and signed it early in the process. But he stayed away from the team while the Chiefs considered trading him (with the Dolphins the most seriously interested party). But despite the trade talks and drafting of Eric Fisher (who will play right tackle, though left tackle is his natural position), the Chiefs want Albert to stay. Coach Andy Reid asked Albert to rejoin the team -- and he did a few weeks ago. If the sides don't reach a new deal before the season starts, Albert must remain focused.

Oakland Raiders: Running back Darren McFadden. This is a big year for McFadden. He is coming off a poor season and has been plagued by injuries his entire career. The Raiders are hoping for a McFadden rebirth with Oakland's return to the power-blocking scheme in which he has excelled. He did not fare well in the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used last season. If McFadden can perform well and stay healthy, Oakland will very likely give him an extension -- it will have plenty of cap space. But if McFadden’s injuries persist or if he doesn’t return to form in the new offensive scheme, Oakland will likely allow him to walk.

San Diego Chargers: Receiver Danario Alexander. Alexander is in a position of strength. He has a chance to make himself a lot of money. Long considered a solid prospect because of his size and speed, Alexander’s career stalled because of injuries. But he signed with the Chargers off the street last season and became a huge contributor. The Chargers love him and will give him a chance to have a big role this season. If he can continue his upward climb, Alexander will get big money from San Diego or elsewhere. If Alexander plateaus or gets hurt again, he will likely not command much in free agency.