AFC West retirement watch

In the first week of the NFL offseason, ESPN.com’s Hot Read is a look at how players deal with deciding whether to retire or not.

In her usual deft style, Elizabeth Merrill takes the reader through the struggles that players and their families go through as they try to figure out whether or not to hang them up.

There are some players in the AFC West who are going through this process now. Let’s take a look at a few:

Denver safety Brian Dawkins

Comment: Dawkins has said he will decide soon on his future. He is 38 and has dealt with a neck injury. If Dawkins wants to come back in a limited role, I could see the Broncos having interest in having him on the team for one more season.

Kansas City center Casey Wiegmann

Comment: Wiegmann, 38, has considered retirement the past few seasons and he has always come back for one more season. It could happen again. The word is, though, Wiegmann may take his time on his decision. He is still playing at a high level and he has played more than 11,000 straight snaps.

San Diego guard Kris Dielman

Comment: Dielman was considering retirement after suffering serious aftereffects of a concussion that ended his season prematurely last season. The UT San Diego has reported there are indications Dielman will return in 2012.

San Diego center Nick Hardwick

Comment: Hardwick is just 30 and he is a free agent who is playing at a high level. I’d be surprised if he hangs them up.

San Diego tackle Marcus McNeill

Comment: McNeill, 28, wants to play but he is dealing with serious neck issues. The UT San Diego reported that he is expected to be cut next month because he isn’t expected to be cleared medically by the time the Chargers owe him a huge bonus. Perhaps McNeill will resume his career, but the odds are it will not be in San Diego.