Below are several whispers we're hearing from around the AFC West:
• A source said it's likely that the Raiders will let QB Bruce Gradkowski explore options with other teams this offseason. Gradkowski, who replaced Jason Campbell as Oakland's starting quarterback on two different occasions this year before being placed on injured reserve in early December, has sparked the team's offense at times over the past couple of seasons. He has struggled to stay healthy when given an opportunity to play, though. He'll be a free agent in the offseason.
• Although a foot injury caused Chargers TE Antonio Gates to miss the final four games of the season and go on injured reserve, he will not need to undergo offseason surgery. Rest is the best way to heal a torn plantar fascia, so Gates likely will have to stay off his feet for the next several weeks. He should be good to go well before training camp.
• The Chiefs sent three players to the Pro Bowl in the club's resurgent season, but they had numerous other deserving candidates who were left off the roster. We hear that QB Matt Cassel, who put up some of the best numbers in the AFC, was more concerned about the team making a postseason run than about not heading to Hawaii. ILB Derrick Johnson, meanwhile, said he was pegged as an alternate for the game.
• We hear the Broncos have been happy with the development of rookie CB Syd'Quan Thompson, who came away with the game-winning interception in Denver's 24-23 win over the Texans in Week 15. The seventh-round draft pick is one of only two players on the Broncos' roster with multiple interceptions and could be thrust into a bigger role next season if veteran CB Champ Bailey doesn't re-sign.