This is a new feature where I'll list Disaster Ratings (one being the least problematic, to 10 being code red) for NFL teams involving offseason retirements and injuries. With some of the recent players going down or calling it quits, I thought it would be nice to have a new section where I can discuss and rate everything.
Chargers LB Denzel Perryman out for season (torn LCL): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Everyone's talking about the Eagles and Rams losing Ronald Darby and Cooper Kupp, respectively, but this was the most devastating season-ending injury that occurred this weekend. The Rams can survive without Kupp, while the Eagles and Jaguars (Brandon Linder) were pretty much cooked already.
The Chargers, on the hand, probably can't overcome this. Denzel Perryman was the heart and soul of the Chargers' defense. He played the run and covered extremely well. His loss will have a profound effect on the defense, which was already missing its best player, Joey Bosa.
The loss of Perryman will likely be the beginning of the end for the Chargers. Unless Bosa can make a miraculous comeback soon, the Chargers will have a horrible defense. With Perryman and Kyzir White out, their linebacking corps is in shambles.
Jaguars C Brandon Linder out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
R.I.P. 2018 Jaguars.
Jacksonville, at 3-6, would have to run the table to reach the playoffs, but it'll have to do so without Brandin Linder. The 26-year-old is one of the better centers in the NFL, and he was the best blocker on the Jaguars' offensive line. Jacksonville will now have to try to win without its left tackle and center.
This is a 7/10 Disaster Grade for this year, but perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Linder's absence will worsen the Jaguars, so more losses will ensue. That means they might have a better chance of landing Justin Herbert in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Eagles CB Ronald Darby out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel for Ronald Darby, who was set to enter free agency for the first time this upcoming offseason. Instead of signing a large contract, he'll be rehabbing his knee. Hopefully he has a swift recovery.
As for the Eagles, this is probably the final nail in the coffin of their repeat Super Bowl aspirations. Already having issues in the secondary, Philadelphia will now be without its top cornerback as it takes on the Saints (Michael Thomas), Giants (Odell Beckham Jr.), Rams (Brandin Cooks) and Texans (DeAndre Hopkins) down the stretch.
This seems worthy of a 7/10 Disaster Grade. The Eagles could still survive somehow if their other injured corners - Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills - return to the field, but if at least one misses extended action as well, the Eagles won't win many more games this season.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Sean McVay told the media that Cooper Kupp's knee injury "didn't look good" following Sunday's victory over Seattle. The Rams' fears were warranted, as Kupp is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The Rams have two other very talented receivers in Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, so they'll survive. Their Super Bowl aspirations are still intact. However, given the Rams' problems on defense, they rely so much on their offense, so if a key cog of their attack is missing, it'll definitely hurt their chances of winning the Lombardi Trophy.
I'm giving this a 6/10 Disaster Grade. Kupp has been Jared Goff's favorite receiver, and given his absence, another injury to a receiver would be devastating. But for now, the Rams are still one of the best teams in the NFL.
Redskins G Brandon Scherff, G Shawn Lauvao, WR Paul Richardson out for season (torn pectoral, torn ACL, shoulder): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Redskins-Falcons game was a disaster, and I'm not just referring to the five units I lost on Washington. The Redskins suffered countless injuries, as right tackle Morgan Moses got hurt and had to miss some action. That was painful, as left tackle Trent Williams was already out. Making matters worse, guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao, as well as wide receiver Paul Richardson were lost for the season.
Scherff and Lauvao being out for the year means that the Redskins will be down three starters up front until Williams returns to the lineup, while a fourth starter (Moses) plays hurt. This is bad, especially when considering how talented Scherff is. Lauvao is a pedestrian player, but whomever the Redskins fill in for Scherff will be a colossal downgrade. Richardson, meanwhile, further depletes a receiving corps that had already been struggling.
All of this deserves an 8/10 Disaster Grade. The Redskins were in control of the NFC East heading into Week 9, but they'll struggle to get wins in the wake of all of these players going down.
Bengals DE Carl Lawson out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I initially read this as Carlos Dunlap being out for the year, which would've been even worse. Carl Lawson was the Bengal lineman lost for the year with a torn ACL, and that's still very grim news.
Lawson is a terrific edge rusher, and he'll be missed when the Bengals have to battle the Steelers again later in the year. Lawson is just the latest Bengal defender to get hurt, as linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil are injured as well. Cincinnati had trouble defending the middle of the field without Burfict and Vigil, and now its edge rush will be worse.
The one thing that could save the Bengals is that they have decent depth at defensive end, so I'm going to mark this down as a 5/10 Disaster Grade. Dunlap being out, for those wondering, would've warranted a 7/10 or maybe an 8/10.
Texans WR Will Fuller out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Will Fuller was down for a while after drawing a deep pass interference flag late against Miami. He eventually walked off, telling his teammates that he's OK. Apparently not, as Fuller is out for the year with a torn ACL.
This is a huge blow for the Texans, who are so reliant on their deep attack. Fuller provided a downfield threat, so he'll certainly be missed. The Texans have promising rookie Keke Coutee to emerge as Watson's second receiver, but he's not the same sort of player. Houston simply doesn't have anyone to replicate what Fuller provided, so I'm grading this a 6/10.
Eagles DE Derek Barnett out for season (shoulder surgery): 4/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles have been hit by too many injuries this season. Derek Barnett is the latest to go down, as he'll be lost for the year because of shoulder surgery.
Barnett got off to a nice start to the year in the first four weeks, but was banged up after that. Now, the Eagles won't have him at all going forward. The silver lining here is that the Eagles are very deep at defensive end with Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett and Chris Long remaining at the position. Fourth-round rookie Josh Sweat, a promising player, could also see an increase in snaps.
I don't think this is a major loss, considering the Eagles' great depth. However, another injury to an edge rusher could really hurt, so I'm going to make this a 4/10 Disaster Grade.
Broncos QB Chad Kelly arrested: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Chad Kelly, what the hell are you doing? Kelly was arrested and charged for criminal trespassing early Tuesday morning. Kelly was standing outside a residence at 1:17 a.m. and had to be chased away by the occupant. It's unclear what this is all about, but I have some ideas.
Kelly is such a talented quarterback, and he was one poor start from Case Keenum away from taking over as Denver's starting quarterback. I'm not sure if that'll be the case now. The Broncos could decide to give Kelly another chance, but it's also possible that they'll cut him. It's worrying that he hasn't been able to overcome his previous off-the-field issues yet.
I'm giving this a 7/10 Disaster Grade. I like Kelly a lot as a quarterback, but this incident may force John Elway to select another pedestrian quarterback in the NFL Draft rather than try Kelly as the next starter.
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman out for season (groin injury): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Some Atlanta fans may disagree with me on this 0/10 Disaster Grade, but I think this injury is a blessing in disguise. It doesn't have any long-term implications, so this should help the Falcons in the long term.
This is nothing against Freeman, who is an important player in the passing attack because of his superior receiving ability. Plain and simple, the Falcons don't have the tools to compete this year. They've lost way too many players to injury. Their defense is awful, and now some of the offensive players are going down. The Falcons would be better off losing as many games as possible so they can secure one of the top defensive tackles in the 2019 NFL Draft. Atlanta's defense needs someone like Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams, Derrick Brown or Jeffery Simmons. If they win several more games, they'll be out of the running for those prospects, especially if one or more return to school.
Eagles RB Jay Ajayi out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Where did this come from? Jay Ajayi left the Minnesota game temporarily, but returned to action after missing several snaps. Ajayi apparently played on a torn ACL against the Vikings, which would definitely excuse his lost fumble inside the 5-yard line.
Ajayi is done for the year, but I don't think this is a big deal. Running back is one of the least-important positions in the NFL because viable replacements can easily be found, barring exceptions to elite players like Todd Gurley, and Ajayi is certainly not elite. The Eagles are deep at the position with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, while Darren Sproles will return from injury soon.
I would argue that this injury is far worse for Ajayi than the Eagles. Ajayi is set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason, so he may have to sign a 1-year "prove it" deal as a result of his torn ACL.
Seahawks S Earl Thomas out for season (broken leg): 10/10 Disaster Rating
I usually reserve 10/10 Disaster Grades for injuries to quarterbacks, or situations in which star players will miss multiple seasons (i.e. Ryan Shazier.) Thomas will be back next year from his broken leg, but this still gets a 10/10 for multiple reasons.
Most obviously, the Seahawks are done. They improved to 2-2 with a victory over the Cardinals, so there was a glimmer of hope that they'd be able to challenge for a wild-card spot. That's no longer the case, as Thomas was one of the few remaining star players on the roster. The defense will be substantially worse without Thomas. That is evident.
What pushes this over the top is that the Seahawks wished to trade Thomas, but that will no longer be possible. The Seahawks lost out on at least a second-round pick in a loaded 2019 NFL Draft class, so they'll have to settle for a compensatory third-round choice in 2020 instead. An extra second-rounder in 2019 could've helped Seattle rebuild, but the franchise lost a valuable asset in the wake of this injury.
Titans S Kenny Vaccaro out 2-4 weeks (dislocated elbow): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Titans have a bye in Week 8, so perhaps Kenny Vaccaro will make his return after that. Vaccaro is a talented safety, but will Tennessee need him during the next three games? They won't this Sunday, as they get to battle the Bills. However, things will get more difficult after that, as the Titans will take on the Ravens and Chargers, both of whom can air it out. Vaccaro will be missed, and his absence could cost the Titans a victory.
That said, this will not earn a high Disaster Grade. I think 2/10 makes sense because the Titans are 3-1 and have a nice cushion. Vaccaro will be back before more damage can be done.
Eagles S Rodney McLeod out for the season (torn MCL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles were able to win the Super Bowl last year despite several key players suffering injuries. They'll have to duplicate that feat, as Rodney McLeod is out for the year with a torn MCL.
This is a tough loss. McLeod is a talented safety who had been playing very well this season. Philadelphia has endured some struggles at corner, so losing one of the couple of strengths in the secondary will be difficult.
I don't think this injury will preclude the Eagles from winning the Super Bowl, but I still think this is worth a 5/10 Disaster Grade. We've seen Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick torch Philadelphia thus far, and things will only get worse in that regard without McLeod.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo out for season (torn ACL): 10/10 Disaster Rating
There's no question that this deserves the maximum Disaster Grade. The 49ers had hopes of making the playoffs, but those are completely gone in the wake of Jimmy Garoppolo's season-ending torn ACL.
This injury is a shame, as Garoppolo will miss a chance to gain more experience as a young quarterback. If there's a silver lining, it's that this injury occurred so early in the year that he should be 100 percent heading into 2019. We also haven't heard anything about any other torn ligaments beyond the ACL, so hopefully the operation goes smoothly and Garoppolo is able to make a quick recovery.
I should note that Richard Sherman will be out for several weeks with a calf injury. That, as well as future injuries for the 49ers that won't impact 2019 will be graded as 0/10. San Francisco won't win many more games with C.J. Beathard, so it's actually in the team's best interest to lose as much as possible so that it can obtain one of the stud defensive linemen from the stellar 2019 NFL Draft class.
Packers DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson out for the season (ankle surgery): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Aaron Rodgers won't be healthy for a while, so for the Packers to make the playoffs, they need most of the other aspects of their team to perform at a high level. Their defensive line was considered a major strength, but that's no longer the case.
Muhammad Wilkerson was once known as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. He signed a big contract with the Jets, then proceeded to slack off. He had to sign a 1-year "prove it" deal with the Packers, and while he wasn't the dominant player he once was, he was performing on a very high level.
With Wilkerson out, the Packers will be even weaker defensively. They still have two studs on their defensive line, but Wilkerson's absence will really be felt in what looks to be a very tight divisional race.
Rams CB Marcus Peters out 2-4 weeks (strained calf): 2/10 Disaster Rating
This is amazing. When Marcus Peters suffered a leg injury, I assumed it was a torn Achilles. He had to be helped off the field, as he couldn't put any pressure on his leg. It looked terrible, so a two- to four-week time table for his injury almost seems like a miracle.
Peters will obviously be missed, especially on Thursday night versus Minnesota's talented receivers. However, with the rest of the NFC West in shambles, the Rams can afford to lose a game or two and still win the division.
You could argue that this could impact home-field advantage, especially if the Vikings are able to prevail on Thursday night as a result of Peters being out. Keep in mind though that the Rams don't have a good home-field advantage, so I'm not sure how relevant that is. I'm giving this a 2/10 Disaster Grade, and that might be a bit high.
Falcons S Ricardo Allen out for season (torn Achilles): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Wow, is anyone still healthy in the Falcons' back seven? Atlanta lost Keanu Neal and Deion Jones in the opening week of the season, and now it'll be without its other safety, Ricardo Allen, who tore his Achilles late versus New Orleans.
This is a huge loss. Allen is a very talented safety and was arguably the best defensive player the Falcons had remaining outside of Grady Jarrett and Desmond Trufant. Atlanta is going to be very soft over the middle of the field without Jones, Neal and now Allen. This is definitely worth a Disaster Grade of 7/10 or so.
The one caveat here is that the Falcons may consider trading for Earl Thomas. Everyone is talking about Thomas going to Dallas, but Thomas played for Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in Seattle when Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator.
Cowboys LB Sean Lee out several weeks (hamstring): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Sean Lee rushed back from a hamstring injury that he suffered on Sunday night versus the Giants. He overcompensated and hurt his other hamstring versus Seattle. He's now expected to miss several weeks.
This is a terrible injury for Dallas, and one that will likely end its season. The Cowboys historically have been far worse defensively without Lee, and that has been the case this year. The Giants' offense finally got moving in Week 2 when Lee left the lineup, and the same could be said of the Seahawks, who had way more success moving the chains in the second half than the early going.
If there's one silver lining, it's that rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will get more snaps. Vander Esch has looked decent in limited action thus far. He doesn't have the awareness and high football IQ that Lee possesses - at least not yet - so he's not a perfect substitute for Lee, but this is exactly why the Cowboys drafted him.
Dolphins DE William Hayes out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The 3-0 Dolphins suffered a setback when they lost William Hayes early against the Raiders. This didn't end up mattering versus Oakland, but Hayes' absence will certainly have an impact going forward.
Hayes wasn't a starter for the Dolphins, but he was a valuable member of Miami's defensive line rotation. He's solid as a pass rusher and even better as a run defender. He'll be missed in tougher matchups where the Dolphins absolutely need to put heat on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing (i.e. next week versus New England.)
I'm giving this a 3/10 Disaster Grade. It's not the end of the world for the Dolphins, but this injury will have an impact.
Giants C Jon Halapio out for season (broken ankle): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Jon Halapio had been doing a solid job as the Giants' center through a game-and-a-half, but broke his ankle Sunday night against the Cowboys. He's out for the year.
If the Giants were a playoff contender, this would be a big deal. However, they appear to be the worst team in the division, so it's in their best interest to lose games. Also, they don't have a viable franchise quarterback on their roster to replace the decrepit Eli Manning next year, so it's not like they have to protect any of their signal-callers. As sad as it is to say, it's actually in the Giants' best interest to have as poor blocking as possible, so that Manning continues to look bad. That will force the front office to replace him, which is something they should've done a couple of years ago.
This is getting a 0/10 Disaster Grade for me, and I'm sure some people on Facebook will joke that I should've given this a negative number because it's a blessing in disguise for New York. Halapio will be 100 percent for 2019, which is the important thing.
Jaguars OT Cam Robinson out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Cam Robinson struggled as a second-round rookie last year, but was showing improvement in his sophomore campaign. Unfortunately, his season has ended because of a torn ACL.
The Jaguars' offense didn't skip much of a beat in the wake of Robinson's injury on Sunday, but the Patriots didn't exactly bring their "A" game to Jacksonville. Replacement left tackle Josh Wells was beaten on several occasions, so the blind side can be considered a liability for Jacksonville going forward. Thus, I'd say this is worth a 6/10 Disaster Grade.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon out 2-3 weeks (knee surgery): 3/10 Disaster Rating
It was initially reported that Joe Mixon would be out closer to two months, but it turns out that he'll miss 2-3 weeks with a knee scope.
Given that Mixon won't be out for too long, the Bengals have to be ecstatic. Mixon has looked great through two games, thanks to his offseason workouts and improved offensive line. Mixon will be missed for sure, especially in tough matchups at Carolina and Atlanta, but the Bengals have a nice safety net with their 2-0 start. They can afford to stumble a bit, especially after defeating their primary rival for the AFC North crown, the Ravens.
I'm giving this a 3/10 Disaster Grade. This could impact Cincinnati's ability to get a first-round bye, but the team won't be missing Mixon for long.
Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves out for season (shoulder): 1/10 Disaster Rating
You have to wonder if this is it for Vernon Hargreaves in Tampa. Hargreaves has been a bust since being selected with the 11th-overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. He struggled as a rookie, then was out for seven games in 2017. Now, he's done for the year with a shoulder injury after just one week of action.
This wouldn't be a big deal if Hargreaves didn't stink, but he has struggled in most games he has played. Thus, I'm giving the Buccaneers a 1/10 Disaster Grade. This only hurts depth, but the Buccaneers have some young, promising corners like Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, who deserve snaps over Hargreaves.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen and OT Daryl Williams out indefinitely (foot, knee): 3/10 and 7/10 Disaster Ratings
I hope what happened to the Panthers serves as a lesson to other NFL teams and players. Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams were considered questionable for Week 1. They opted to gut it out in the season opener, but both aggravated their injuries. Now, because they pushed themselves too much, they'll be out for a long time. Olsen will be evaluated on a monthly basis, while Williams will undergo knee surgery, so he's likely done for the year.
These two injuries obviously hurt the Panthers. Williams seems like the worse one, as he was the top offensive lineman on the roster. The Panthers have no viable replacement for Williams, and they'll struggle mightily to block as a result. Olsen, on the other hand, might not be too bad of a loss. Olsen seemed like he was over the hill already, and Carolina has a promising young tight end in Ian Thomas, a fourth-round rookie. Thomas is very athletic and has high upside, and it could be a blessing in disguise to get him some playing action; if he has experience heading into 2019, that could mean that he'll have a big sophomore campaign. Of course, Thomas could also be a bust, meaning the Panthers would really miss Olsen.
I'd say Olsen has a 3/10 Disaster Grade, while Williams is a 7/10. Cam Newton's protection just got much worse without his great right tackle.
Falcons LB Deion Jones out at least 8 weeks (foot): 7/10 Disaster Rating
A year ago, we saw the Steelers regress from a Super Bowl contender to a one-and-done playoff squad that could barely beat mediocre opponents late in the season because Ryan Shazier suffered a horrible injury. The Falcons could have a similar downfall without Deion Jones.
Jones is one of the top linebackers in the NFL. He's great in every facet, and he's the heart and soul of the Falcons' defense. Atlanta's stop unit will be far worse without Jones, which, combined with the opening-week loss, will make it difficult for the team to reach the playoffs.
If there's any good news, it's that Jones will have a chance to return after eight weeks. By then, however, it could be too late. Replacement Duke Riley isn't horrible, but he's not even close to the player Jones happens to be.
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin out at least 2-3 weeks (partial MCL tear): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Doug Baldwin partially tore his ACL on Sunday, and that sort of an injury usually carries an absence of 2-3 weeks. They won't have him against the Bears, Cowboys and maybe the Cardinals.
Even though Baldwin could be back by October, this injury is still very significant for the Seahawks, worthy of a 5/10 Disaster Grade. Seattle has a void of talent on its roster, as the team owns just a handful of quality players. Baldwin is one of them, so his absence will really hurt the offense. With a depleted roster, Seattle needs all hands on deck, but if Baldwin is out, the top wideouts become a decrepit Brandon Marshall and an inefficient Tyler Lockett.
Titans TE Delanie Walker out for season (ligament damage, dislocated ankle): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Week 1 didn't go very well for the Titans. One of their top weapons went down with a season-ending injury, and that may not even be the worst news they've heard, as Marcus Mariota could be dealing with a nerve injury in his arm.
Delanie Walker's season-ending injury hurts, however. Walker will be done for the year because of ligament damage and a dislocated ankle. If Mariota ends up being fine, he won't be as effective without his trusted safety valve.
If there's a silver lining, the Titans might have a fine replacement in Jonnu Smith. Chosen in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Jonnu is an athletic player with upside. Perhaps this will spark his development. Smith could also be a bust, however, as he has yet to do anything in the pros, and if he is, it'll be difficult for the Titans to make the playoffs, even if Mariota is 100 percent.
Falcons S Keanu Neal out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Non-contact injuries tend to be the worst, so when Keanu Neal went down with one in the season opener against the Eagles, there was some fear that he would be lost for the season. That has turned out to be the case, as Neal tore his ACL.
Neal is a very talented safety, but I'm only grading this as a 3/10 because the Falcons have a very promising replacement in Damontae Kazee. The fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft thrived in the preseason and performed masterfully against the Eagles. Atlanta's defense won't skip a beat with Kazee replacing Neal.
That said, I don't think this should be below a 3/10 Disaster Grade because the Falcons will be in serious trouble if either Kazee or Ricardo Allen gets hurt. They're OK for now though.
49ers RB Jerick McKinnon out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The 49ers feared the worst when Jerick McKinnon went down with a non-contact injury in Saturday's practice when making a cut. It turns out that their worries were validated, as McKinnon is lost for the season with a torn ACL.
San Francisco paid McKinnon $30 million over four years this offseason, so some may see this as a big loss. I wouldn't agree with that assessment. I always believed McKinnon was an overrated player, and that San Francisco spent way too much money on him. I didn't think McKinnon could handle an entire workload, and that he was just a glorified third-down back. I also don't believe that there's much of a downgrade from McKinnon to the duo of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida.
The 49ers should be fine without McKinnon, though I'll still give this a 3/10 Disaster Grade because another injury to a running back could really deplete depth at the position.
Browns LB Mychal Kendricks out indefinitely (insider trading): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I never imagined that an NFL player would be indicted for insider trading, yet here we are. Mychal Kendricks has gotten into trouble for it, prompting the Browns to release him.
It was puzzling to me why the Browns cut Kendricks so quickly when other NFL teams have retained players who have committed far worse crimes. However, it seems as though general manager John Dorsey was angry that Kendricks lied to him about the situation prior to the two agreeing to a contract back in June. As we've learned, covering stuff up can have dire consequences, and Kendricks has paid the price.
Losing Kendricks definitely hurts the Browns. Here's what I wrote when grading the Kendricks signing as an "A" in June: "The linebacking corps was seen as the weakest link of the stop unit. That won't be the case in the wake of signing Kendricks, who had a phenomenal 2017 campaign with the Eagles. Kendricks is going to offer an instant upgrade for the Browns at a cheap price. This has to be an 'A' grade as a result."
Now, the Browns weren't expected to make the playoffs or anything, but it was believed that they would be way more competitive than usual in 2018. That'll still be the case, but Kendricks' departure creates a void at linebacker. This is a serious loss, but not absolutely crushing, so I'll give the Browns a 5/10 Disaster Grade.
Jaguars WR Marqise Lee out for season (knee): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Marqise Lee suffered an awful-looking knee injury over the weekend, and an MRI has shown ligament damage. He's been placed on injured reserve and will be out for the season.
I was hesitant to even write a Disaster Grade for this injury because I deemed it largely irrelevant, but I've gotten plenty of requests for it, so here we are.
We just saw the Jaguars reach the AFC Championship last year despite losing their No. 1 receiver, Allen Robinson, to a season-ending injury in Week 1. If they could survive without Robinson, they'll be perfectly fine without Lee, who is an inferior player by comparison. Jacksonville has comparable players to receive Lee's targets, such as Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and rookie D.J. Chark. And besides, it's not like they relied on their aerial attack to get them wins. They were always going to achieve victories because of their outstanding defense and potent ground attack; not because of Lee catching five passes for 60 yards each week.
Cowboys C Travis Frederick out indefinitely (Guillain Barre Syndrome): 10/10 Disaster Rating
Travis Frederick is going to be out for a long time with Guillain Barre Syndrome. He may not even play again. This is horrible news, and hopefully Frederick is able to fully recover and return to the field at some point.
Guillain Barre Syndrome is a rare disorder where a body's immune system attacks the nerves. According to a health database, most people make a full recovery from Guillain Barre Syndrome, but it takes a long time, and some individuals can have long-term issues.
This is obviously a 10/10 Disaster Grade. Frederick, in my opinion, was the best center in the NFL. Joe Looney is a capable backup, but he's nowhere near as talented as Frederick, so Dallas' offensive line - and offense as a whole - will take a big hit. This is a crushing blow for the Cowboys' playoff aspirations. That said, Frederick's health is the most important issue, and hopefully he can completely overcome this horrible disease.
Ravens CB Jimmy Smith suspensed for 4 games (personal conduct policy): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Jimmy Smith has been suspended for four games for violating the personal conduct policy. The NFL determined that Smith had a pattern of improper conduct where he threatened and emotionally abused his ex-girlfriend. Smith has since apologized for this.
Despite Smith's issues, the Ravens' secondary won't be as potent without him. Thus, the proper course of action in determining how much Baltimore will miss him is to look at the first four opponents' passing attacks. The Ravens will battle the Bills (Josh Allen), Bengals (Andy Dalton) and Broncos (Case Keenum) to start the year. If that sounds great for Baltimore, you'd be right. However, the fourth game of the season is versus the Steelers. The Ravens will miss Smith as they attempt to cover Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington.
It's only one game, but the result of the Week 4 Baltimore-Pittsburgh affair could determine the winner of the AFC North. Thus, I feel compelled to rate this higher than normal four-game suspensions.
Patriots G Isaiah Wynn out for the season (torn Achilles): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Patriots had two first-round picks, but aren't having good fortune with either so far. Sony Michel has been banged up throughout the summer, and now Isaiah Wynn has been lost for the year with a torn Achilles.
Losing a starting offensive lineman would ordinarily be a big deal, but that's not the case here because Wynn wasn't even slated to start. The primary guards to begin the year were going to be Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. Wynn was going to serve as solid depth and a potential starter toward the end of the year, but his absence won't necessarily hurt the Patriots, who have survived with worse injuries.
I'm giving this a 2/10 Disaster Grade, only because of depth concerns as well as the unlikely possibility that Wynn could feel ramifications from this injury in 2019.
Redskins RB Derrius Guice out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Derrius Guice had a strong preseason debut Thursday night against the Patriots. He had a 33-yard run featuring a spin move and a great stiff-arm on his final carry, though the play was wiped out by a hold. Guice left with a knee injury, though it was initially reported just to be a sprained MCL. Guice was expected to be ready for Week 1. Unfortunately, that's not the case anymore, as he was re-diagnosed with a torn ACL. He's done for 2018.
This is a shame. Guice looked like he was going to have a great rookie campaign. He was head and shoulders above any other running back on the roster, as he already won the starting job. He was going to have the luxury of running behind a terrific offensive line. Now, the Redskins will have to resort to using Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine or whomever else they happen to sign.
I liked the Redskins as a potential playoff sleeper, but I'm less optimistic now. Guice's absence will take away a big threat on offense, so a 7/10 Disaster Grade seems appropriate.
Vikings G Nick Easton likely out for season (herniated disc): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Vikings are having a terrible summer. The most prominent news was the unfortunate passing of offensive line coach Tony Sparano. Now, Minnesota likely lost a starting lineman for the season, as guard Nick Easton needs surgery to repair a herniated disc.
It appears as though the Vikings' offensive line is in shambles. Easton is probably done for 2018; Joe Berger has retired; both Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers are hurt right now; and Sparano is no longer around to get the most out of Minnesota's blockers.
Easton isn't a very good player - he's probably slightly below average - but losing a starter on a line that already had some holes and no longer has its coach is pretty bad. I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade, and it's possible that this number should be higher.
Panthers G Amini Silatolu out for several weeks (torn meniscus): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Surprise, surprise, Amini Silatolu is hurt. Silatolu, a former second-round pick, showed signs of promise early in his career, but that has changed in recent years. Silatolu has played double-digit games just once since his rookie year in 2012. He'll now be out anywhere between 4-8 weeks with a torn meniscus.
The Panthers losing their starting left guard might seem like a big deal after right tackle Daryl Williams suffered an injury as well. However, the Panthers used a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Taylor Moton. The Western Michigan product has plenty of upside, so Silatolu's absence could be a blessing in disguise, as it'll give Ron Rivera an excuse to get Moton into the lineup.
Chiefs S Daniel Sorensen out indefinitely (knee): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Chiefs initially feared that starting safety Daniel Sorensen would be out for the season with a torn ACL, but the injury isn't that bad. Still, Sorensen will be sidelined indefinitely, and it sounds like he won't return until the middle of October at the very earliest.
Sorensen is a sub-par player, so this injury doesn't mean very much. The Chiefs have some guys like Robert Golden or rookie Armani Watts to take over for him. Depth is definitely an issue in the wake of this injury, however. That's the only reason this has earned a 2/10 Disaster Grade and not anything less.
Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley out for the season (torn ACL): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Arizona has lost its "starting" center A.Q. Shipley to a torn ACL on Monday. He'll be out for the season. Center is a very important position, yet Arizona will get just a 1/10 Disaster Grade for this injury.
This Disaster Grade is so low because the front office spent a third-round pick on Michigan's Mason Cole, who was expected to challenge for the job anyway. Shipley has struggled in recent years, so Cole figures to be an upgrade. The only way this hurts Arizona is from a depth perspective, hence why this isn't a 0/10 Disaster Grade.
Packers OT David Bakhtiari and Colts OT Anthony Castonzo out for several weeks (ankle, hamstring): 1/10 Disaster Rating
A pair of franchise left tackles suffered scary-looking leg injuries in practice over the weekend. David Bakhtiari was even carted off the practice field. However, both will only be out for several weeks, and there's a good chance they'll both be on the field for their respective season opener.
Both of these injuries will get a 1/10 Disaster Grade. There's an outside shot one of Bakhtiari or Castonzo's injuries could linger into the first week or two of the regular season - particularly Castonzo's because it's a soft-tissue malady - but it really sounds like they'll be fine once we get to see real NFL action.
Patriots RB Sony Michel out for several weeks (knee): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Sony Michel suffered a knee injury Wednesday and will undergo a procedure. There was worry that he would miss some regular-season action, but newer reports say that he could be ready for Week 1.
It hurts Michel's development that he won't be practicing or playing in the preseason games. His first regular season could get off to a slow start as a result. However, the Patriots have gotten off to middling starts before and have finished on a strong note, and the important thing is that Michel will likely be the primary back in New England's offense in the second half of the year. That's really what matters, which is why I'm giving this just a 1/10 Disaster Grade.
Titans S John Cyprien out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
There have been a lot of injuries thus far in training camp, and Titans safety John Cyprien is the latest victim. Cyprien tore his ACL on Thursday and will be out for the year.
Cyprien is a very talented safety who signed a 4-year, $25 million contract in the spring of 2017. He didn't live up to it last year, as he missed six games and wasn't healthy when he was on the field. He was expected to rebound this year, but now the Titans will have to scramble to find a viable replacement. Unfortunately, one does not exist on the roster.
That said, this earns just a 3/10 Disaster Grade because there are quality replacements available on the open market. As you can see in the NFL Free Agent Safeties page, the Titans could sign one of five players with two or more stars, including Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid. Both would be solid replacements for Cyprien.
Colts G Jack Mewhort announces retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Jack Mewhort got off to a very promising start to his career. His first two seasons were exceptional, and it seemed as though he would be a Pro Bowl guard for years to come. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his career enough for him to call it quits at just 26 years old.
It seemed as though the Colts anticipated that this would happen. They signed Matt Slauson in free agency and then spent two picks in the first couple of rounds in the 2018 NFL Draft on guards (Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson and Auburn's Braden Smith.) Nelson and Slauson were already projected to start at guard, and Smith could compete to play over the latter. Mewhort wasn't even in the picture anymore, as the Colts had no faith in his health. That's why this is a 0/10 Disaster Grade. It's a shame for Mewhort, but the Colts aren't hurt at all by this.
Packers ILB Jake Ryan out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The Packers lost a key member of their linebacking corps Monday, as Jake Ryan will be out for the season with a torn ACL. Despite Ryan being a starter last year, this isn't a huge deal for the Packers.
Ryan was a well-rounded player last year, as his usage increased as the season progressed. He formed a decent tandem with Blake Martinez, so if this were 2017, this injury would be more devastating. However, the Packers spent a third-round pick on Oren Burks to bolster the position. The athletic Vanderbilt product will likely start away, which could be a blessing in disguise because he has more upside than Ryan.
I'm giving the Packers a 3/10 Disaster Grade. This hurts from a depth perspective, but as long as Martinez and Burks remain healthy, Green Bay will likely be fine at linebacker.
Panthers CB Ross Cockrell out indefinitely (broken leg): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Panthers are not having a fortunate training camp. Days after Daryl Williams suffered a brutal knee injury, cornerback Ross Cockrell broke his leg. It's not clear if Cockrell will be out for the season, but that's certainly a possibility.
Considering that cornerback was already a problematic area for the Panthers, this injury is a big deal. It's not devastating, but it'll hurt Carolina for sure. Cockrell, arguably the best veteran cornerback on the roster, ideally would have started across from James Bradberry, with rookie Donte Jackson in the slot. Now, Kevon Seymour will have to start across from Bradberry, which is horrible because Seymour is an atrocious player.
Panthers OT Daryl Williams out indefinitely (torn MCL, dislocated kneecap): 7/10 Disaster Rating
There was horrible news out of Panthers training camp Saturday, and that was Daryl Williams going down in the morning with a knee injury. It was awful-looking, by all accounts, and Williams was carted off the practice field. It turns out that Williams dislocated his kneecap and tore his MCL. He could be lost for the season. The best case scenario is that he'll return in November, but he won't be 100 percent.
This injury will really hurt Carolina's chances of reaching the playoffs in a very taxing NFC. In the wake of guard Andrew Norwell's departure, Williams was regarded as the best offensive lineman on Carolina's roster. Now, the Panthers' blocking is very poor outside of center Ryan Kalil.
I'm giving the Panthers a 7/10 Disaster Grade. Cam Newton will be able to escape from some sacks, but he'll be under much more pressure in the wake of his injury. The run blocking won't be nearly as potent either. There's plenty of competition in the conference, and now the Panthers could miss the playoffs as a result of Williams getting hurt.
Chargers CB Jason Verrett out for season (torn Achilles): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is reportedly out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles during Friday's conditioning test. The Chargers curse strikes again.
This is unfortunate news for the injury-prone Verrett. The talented corner just can't stay healthy, as he's played just five games in 2016 and 2017 combined. In fact, he's played more than only six games just once in his 5-year pro career thus far. It's fair to wonder if his career is over in the wake of this latest injury.
While this sucks for the Chargers, it's not the end of the world because they have three other talented cornerbacks in Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams and Desmond King. They can survive without Verrett, but what this does is make to crucial for those other three corners to stay healthy. An injury to one of them would seriously deplete the secondary, so I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade.
Giants CB Sam Beal out for season (shoulder): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Well, this is disappointing. The Giants used a third-round pick in the supplemental draft on talented cornerback Sam Beal, who was considered a potential opening-round prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft once upon a time. Beal, however, hurt his shoulder in practice Monday and will miss all of 2018.
It's unfortunate that the Giants won't see Beal in real action until next September, but this injury isn't a huge issue. I didn't think Beal would be able to contribute much until the second half of the year because he missed all of the offseason workouts. Plus, this injury has occurred so early that there's no question that he'll be 100 percent heading into 2019, which is what really matters most, given that the Giants were unlikely to be able to make a deep run into the playoffs this season.
Seahawks S Kam Chancellor announces retirement: 9/10 Disaster Rating
Kam Chancellor has announced his retirement on Twitter in the wake of not being cleared by doctors to play again because of his devastating neck injury. Chancellor retires as a four-time Pro Bowler and one of the top players at his position throughout this entire decade.
This is rather upsetting. It's a shame that Chancellor has been robbed of the final 33-40 percent of his career. He turned 30 this offseason, but given that safeties can play at a high level into their mid-30s, Chancellor had 3-5 more seasons of Pro Bowl-caliber play remaining in the tank. The neck injury he suffered in that Thursday night bloodbath versus Arizona has changed that.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. For reference, a career-ending injury to Russell Wilson would be 10/10, so this is close. Chancellor's absence will make the defense so much worse, especially if Earl Thomas is traded, as expected. The Seahawks are no longer a playoff contender, and they have officially entered rebuilding mode.
Packers RB Aaron Jones and Rams G Jamon Brown suspended 2 games (substance abuse policy): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Both Packers running back Aaron Jones and Rams guard Jamon Brown have both been suspended for two games for violating the substance abuse policy. I thought I'd group them together because they're both getting the same Disaster Grade from me, which is a 0/10.
Jones is the best running back on Green Bay's roster, but it sounded like Jamaal Williams was going to get the starts anyway. Williams and Ty Montgomery can hold down the fort just fine for two contests. Brown, meanwhile, is a starting guard for the Rams, but he's the worst blocker on the team's front. There's no downgrade from him to Austin Blythe.
49ers LB Reuben Foster suspended for 2 games (personal conduct): 4/10 Disaster Rating
If you were to tell any 49er personnel man or fan four months ago that Reuben Foster would be suspended for only two games despite all of the allegations against him, they would've taken it in a heart beat. Foster will miss the season opener at Minnesota, as well as the 49ers' home debut versus the Lions, but that's it.
Despite this suspension being two games, it's a big deal. The Week 1 battle in Minnesota figures to be a very difficult one, and Foster's absence could be the difference between a win and a loss. The Detroit contest could also be problematic without Foster, as Matthew Stafford tends to feast on defenses that have poor linebacking corps.
I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade. It's quite possible that the 49ers will be 0-2 rather than 2-0 because of Foster's suspension. The good news is that Foster will be back Week 3 for another tough matchup versus the Chiefs.
Eagles LB Nigel Bradham suspended for 1 game (personal conduct): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Nigel Bradham has been suspended for the season opener because of an aggravated battery arrest from back in 2016. It's a bummer for the Eagles that they won't have him in a tough matchup against the Falcons, but the good news is that Bradham will return 10 days later against the Buccaneers.
Given that the Eagles nearly lost to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, Bradham's absence could be the deciding factor against Atlanta this time around. The Eagles could lose because of this, and the defeat might mean they won't have home-field advantage in the playoffs once again.
With that in mind, this has to be a non-zero number for the Disaster Grade. Conversely, it can't be above something like 2/10 because Bradham will be out for only one game, and Jordan Hicks will be back to pick up the slack.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston suspended for 3 games (personal conduct): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Jameis Winston has been suspended for three games, stemming from an incident with an Uber driver where he allegedly groped her. This occurred back in March 2016, yet Winston is finally being penalized for it now.
Call me crazy, but I don't think this is a big deal for this season. Maybe I feel that way because I know that Winston has been doing shady things off the field during this spring, which is why I recently predicted that Tampa would have the worst record in the NFL in 2018. With that in mind, I gave the Buccaneers a very little chance of beating the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. They were pretty much guaranteed to lose the first two games. Pittsburgh was a possibility for a win, but I don't think it's out of the question that Ryan Fitzpatrick could beat the Steelers. Fitzpatrick is one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and I don't think there's much of a drop-off between Winston and Fitzpatrick when you factor in Winston's off-field problems.
I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade. It's really a 0/10 for this season - the Buccaneers are definitely not making the playoffs anyway - but the 5/10 is more of a long-term concern. Winston needs to grow up before he knocks himself out of the NFL, much like another former first-round Tampa quarterback who also endured off-field issues, Josh Freeman.
Cowboys DT David Irving suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 6/10 Disaster Rating This is painful for the Cowboys, as it'll definitely harm their chances of repeating as divisional champions. Irving was the team's top defensive lineman last year, as he was the only player who generated a consistent pass rush. He was particularly dominant down the stretch, and at only 23 (24 in August), it seemed like he would take a big step forward in 2017. He'll have to wait until Week 5 to showcase his talents, however.
I wrote this last year - June 28, to be exact - yet it's happened again. Irving has been slapped with a four-game ban for PEDs. I gave the Cowboys a 4/10 Disaster Grade for it then, but I'm bumping it up to a 6/10. It's not that their initial four games are more difficult this year - they're guaranteed to be an underdog at Carolina and Seattle, but that's it - but there's less margin for error in the wake of the Dez Bryant and Jason Witten departures. Dallas' offense won't be as potent in 2018, so the defense will be asked to handle more of a responsibility. Irving's absence will be a blow for sure, and it could turn a potential 2-2 or 3-1 start into a 1-3 opening quarter of the season.
Furthermore, this is a bad sign that Irving can't stay out of trouble. If he doesn't grow up, he could find himself missing many more games.
Browns CB Howard Wilson out for season (torn patellar tendon): 0/10 Disaster Rating
This is a shame. Howard Wilson, a fourth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, missed his entire rookie campaign with a fractured knee cap. He was set to make his debut this year, but he won't be doing that anytime soon because he tore his patellar tendon and will miss all of 2018 as a result.
The Browns are getting a 0/10 Disaster Grade for this because Wilson was set to just be the fifth cornerback on the roster behind Denzel Ward, T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. However, this is a 10/10 Disaster Grade for Wilson himself. A torn patellar tendon is extremely difficult to come back from; in fact, only a handful of players have performed well following that devastating injury. Wilson may never seen action in a professional game as a result, which really sucks for him.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman facing four-game suspension (PEDs): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the PED policy. Edelman is appealing, so there's a chance he could win. We'll know the results in the coming days.
That said, if the suspension is upheld, it's not a big deal at all. It's not like Edelman will be missed for the entire year, like he was in 2017. The Patriots were able to advance to the Super Bowl without Edelman last season, so they'll be fine without him for just four games. I know that Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks are gone, but Tom Brady still has Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, the promising Malcolm Mitchell and Jordan Matthews to throw to. The only way this possible suspension matters is if the Patriots suffer numerous injuries at receiver prior to the season opener.
Chargers TE Hunter Henry out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Paging Antonio Gates! Hunter Henry tore his ACL and will be lost for 2018. This is a harmful blow for the Chargers, who were counting on Henry to be a big part of the offense this upcoming season. Henry had great potential as an athletic, 23-year-old tight end entering his third season, but now Charger fans won't see him again until 2019.
This is a 5/10 on the Disaster Grade scale. Henry's absence will be impactful, but I don't think it'll ruin the Chargers' chances of making the playoffs. A major part of that reason is Antonio Gates' availability in free agency. The Chargers were willing to let go of Gates because of Henry, but they can now re-sign him for one more year. Also, we recently saw the Patriots win the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski, as tight end isn't exactly the most important position. It's worth noting that Henry's injury occurred so early that he'll be 100 percent by training camp next summer.
Eagles LB Paul Worrilow out for season (torn ACL): 1/10 Disaster Rating
To quote Adam Sandler's character in the Wedding Singer, "Things that could've been brought to my attention yesterday!" This is poor timing, as Worrilow was lost for the year on the same day the Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks. Philadelphia now has some desperate need for linebacking help.
That said, this is just a 1/10 Disaster Grade. Worrilow ideally was going to provide decent depth, but he would not have been a viable starter in the wake of Kendricks' release. It should be easy to replace him, as there are some decent linebackers available, which you can see in the NFL Free Agent Linebacker Rankings.
Saints RB Mark Ingram suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 1/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel for Mark Ingram, who needed to be in the best physical shape possible to warrant touches in the Saints' offense. He and Alvin Kamara split the work last year, but the latter was expected to shoulder more of a workload in 2018. Perhaps this was the reason Ingram was flagged for PEDs, prompting the four-game suspension.
This sucks for Ingram, but it's not a big deal for the Saints. Kamara, as mentioned, will be the featured back this upcoming season, so Ingram was set to see less of a workload. This suspension only matters if Kamara gets hurt as well. If that happens, the Saints will have to rotate Trey Edmunds, Jonathan Williams and Boston Scott.
Cowboys TE Jason Witten announces retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Jason Witten didn't exactly pick the best time to inform the Cowboys that he would retire. Dallas will now have to scurry to delve deeper into tight end prospects, though I'm not sure this decision will necessarily change their plans for what they will do on Day 2.
Witten has been a great tight end throughout his career, and he'll be in the Hall of Fame one day for certain. However, this isn't a big deal. Witten turns 36 in May, and he had already been slowing down as a receiver. He was still a strong blocker, but he was definitely in decline. The only reason this isn't a 0/10 Disaster Grade is because the Cowboys will miss Witten's leadership in the locker room.
Eagles CB Daryl Worley arrested: 1/10 Disaster Rating
Daryl Worley was arrested Sunday morning when police found him inside a vehicle blocking the highway. Worley was then "combative" with the officers and had to be tasered. Worley is expected to be released in the wake of this arrest, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Eagles seemingly won a trade with the Panthers this offseason when they acquired Worley for Torrey Smith. However, this was because Philadelphia was able to get rid of Smith's bad contract; not because it acquired Worley. The West Virginia product played well as a rookie in 2016, but was awful last year. A former third-round pick, Worley was seen as having potential, but apparently not.
This arrest and potential subsequent release is not a big deal at all. It's a 1/10 Disaster Grade at the very most. It'll only affect depth, but the Eagles can just spend a third-day pick on a cornerback to fix that.
Bills G Richie Incognito announces retirement: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Richie Incognito's career would be viewed more favorably if it weren't for his involvement in "Bullygate," but he will absolutely be missed. He's been an important member of Buffalo's offensive line the past three seasons, and his absence will be a tough one to fill, especially considering the circumstances.
Buffalo's blocking unit is in shambles right now. Center Eric Wood retired earlier in the offseason, while Cordy Glenn was traded as well. Aside from promising left tackle Dion Dawkins, the Bills don't have a viable starter up front, which has to be a huge concern, given that Buffalo is set to trade assets to move up for a quarterback. Perhaps this will force the team into starting A.J. McCarron for the entire 2018 season, as getting a rookie signal-caller murdered behind a poor blocking group doesn't sound like the best idea.
Panthers LB Thomas Davis suspended for four games (PED ban): 2/10 Disaster Rating
I gave the Bengals a 6/10 Disaster Grade for Vontaze Burfict's suspension. That's because Burfict being gone for four weeks could derail Cincinnati's season. Thomas Davis, on the other hand, doesn't have the same sort of impact.
This is a 2/10 Disaster Grade at the most. This would've been higher several seasons ago, but Davis, now 35, is a declining player. He's still decent, but he's no longer a dominant defender. The Panthers were even considering decreasing his snaps in favor of Shaq Thompson this year, so this will help expedite that process. I don't really think Davis' four-game absence will have any sort of impact on Carolina's 2018 record.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict suspended for four games (PED ban): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Thomas Davis has been suspended today - I'll get to that Disaster Grade in a bit - and that reminded me that I forgot to write something up for Vontaze Burfict's ban.
Burfict is an incredibly important player for the Bengals. Here's proof: In the past two seasons, the Bengals are 3-8 when Burfict misses action. They are 10-10-1 otherwise. Burfict is one of the most talented linebackers in the NFL, so it's understandable why Cincinnati would have such a huge rate of failure in his absence.
I'm grading this as a 6/10. Depending on their schedule, the Bengals could conceivably begin 0-4 without Burfict. The only good news is that this is "only" four games, so if Cincinnati can start 1-3, the team can rebound once Burfict returns.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett arrested: 0/10 or 6/10 Disaster Rating
I have to copy-paste Adam Schefter's tweet here so I don't incorrectly type anything about this report:
"District Attorney of Harris County, Texas announced it has indicted Eagles' DE Michael Bennett for felony charge for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic working at NRG Stadium to control access to field at SuperBowl LI. A warrant has been issued for Bennet's arrest."
It's unclear how the Eagles will respond to this, or if Bennett will see a suspension at all. Bennett is in trouble for knocking over a 66-year-old woman in a wheelchair, but that it may or may not have been incidental. The report in question says that following the game, Bennett shoved his way to the field where players were gathering to celebrate. The woman told him he had to use a different entrance for field access. He didn't listen, and he pushed through the security team, including the paraplegic woman.
This doesn't sound like it was done with malice, and that a frustrated Bennett didn't mean to knock the woman over, which makes me wonder why he's getting a felony charge. The report continues...
"The charge, injury to the elderly, includes intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older. It carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine."
Wow. Bennett's legal team will obviously try to prove that he didn't intentionally and knowingly cause bodily injury to the woman, so we'll see what happens. I'm wondering why the NFL has a 66-year-old paraplegic working to control access to the field in the Super Bowl in the first place. I think that's probably the most confusing part of the story.
Depending on what transpires legally, this may not have any impact on the Eagles' season, hence the 0/10 Disaster Grade. However, if Bennett is suspended and/or the Eagles cut him, this Disaster Grade should be a 6/10. With Vinny Curry gone, Bennett was set to become a crucial piece of Philadelphia's defensive line. The Eagles can still win a Super Bowl without Bennett, but it'll be much harder to repeat without him.
49ers ILB Reuben Foster arrested: 7/10 Disaster Rating
There were a couple of reasons why Reuben Foster slipped to the end of the first round last year. Injury concerns certainly played a part, but his character issues were seen as problematic as well.
Both of these items have been factors thus far in Foster's pro career. Foster missed six games as a rookie, and he's now getting into trouble. He's been arrested twice this month. The first arrest wasn't a big deal, as it was just marijuana possession, but this one is worse, as Foster has been booked on charges related to domestic violence and the possession of an assault rifle.
It's likely that Foster will be suspended for a few games. It's very troubling that he's been arrested twice in the 10 months he's been in the NFL. The next time he has legal issues - and there's no reason to believe things will change - Foster could be banned for many more games. It's a bad trend that really has to worry San Francisco's front office and coaching staff.
Update: Details have come out about Foster's second arrest. He's been accused of physically dragging his girlfriend during an argument, and that she was injured. Foster also owns multiple semiautomatic rifles. This looks terrible, and if everything Foster is accused of is true, the 49ers need to consider cutting him. At the very least, it seems like he'll be suspended for six games.
Colts HC Josh McDaniels has decided not to take the head-coaching job: 5/10 or 9/10 Disaster Rating
It was widely reported that the Colts hired Josh McDaniels on Tuesday morning. I posted my grade for the Colts hiring Josh McDaniels here. Now, news has broken that McDaniels has opted not to go to Indianapolis, and he will remain New England's offensive coordinator.
To me, I think this means one of three things happened:
1. McDaniels was told that Bill Belichick will retire soon, which will give him the opportunity to take over as head coach of the Patriots.
2. McDaniels learned that Andrew Luck's health is much worse than what has been reported.
3. McDaniels realized that he cannot work with Jim Irsay.
All of these scenarios are bad for the Colts, especially No. 2. If it's the second item, this Disaster Grade has to be a 9/10. Otherwise, I'd say it's a 5/10. I thought McDaniels would be a great hire, as he would get the most out of Luck. Now, Indianapolis has to start its head-coaching search from scratch, as all of the top candidates are gone. It's going to be tough for the team to find someone quickly, and it'll be even more difficult for the new coach to come in and assemble his staff by the combine, which is in three weeks.
Bills C Eric Wood announces retirement: 4/10 Disaster Rating
Eric Wood's career is over because of a horrible neck injury. It's a shame that he's forced into retirement at the age of 32 (in March), as he would've had several quality seasons remaining in the tank otherwise.
That said, Wood had been on the decline recently because of a variety of injuries. Wood used to be one of the better centers in the NFL, but that hasn't been the case the past two years.
Still, it hurts to lose Wood. He was still a solid player, and he happened to be a leader in the locker room. Ryan Groy, who isn't horrible, is Wood's replacement, but the Bills likely will look to draft a replacement. Here are the 2018 NFL Draft Center Prospect Rankings.
Jets WR Robby Anderson arrested: 5/10 Disaster Rating
I was going to do a write-up on Marlon Humphrey being arrested for third-degree robbery, but it was revealed that it was just a disagreement over a phone charger. We'll see what happens, and perhaps I'll have a Disaster Grade for it if the situation warrants it. Perhaps it'll all just blow over.
Meanwhile, I remembered that I didn't provide a Disaster Grade for Robby Anderson's arrest. What Anderson did was much more serious. He was charged with hard to a public servant, reckless driving, eluding police and resisting arrest. According to reports, Anderson was driving 60 mph over the speed limit and then threatened the police officer's wife once he was finally stopped. This was the second time Anderson was arrested since joining the Jets.
It doesn't sound like Anderson will be released, but he could be facing a suspension of some sort. He's the Jets' best downfield play-maker, so his absence will hurt the development of their new quarterback. Also, if Anderson is arrested again, he'll almost certainly be released. Hopefully Anderson turns his life around. This is a dire situation for New York, worthy of a 5/10 Disaster Grade.
Titans OT Jack Conklin tears ACL: 5/10 Disaster Rating
We saw how important Jack Conklin was to Tennessee's offense in the divisional-round blowout at New England. The Titans couldn't pass protect at all, and they scored just seven points in meaningful action as a consequence.
The Titans may have to get used to this because Conklin tore his ACL. Had Conklin suffered this injury in September or October, he'd certainly be fine for training camp, but a January ligament tear will be difficult to come back from. Conklin will almost definitely miss training camp, and he could be sidelined for the first few games of 2018. Perhaps he'll even be placed on the PUP list.
If there's a silver lining, it's that the Titans should have Conklin during the second half of the season. However, considering they're in a very competitive AFC South, not having Conklin's services could knock them out of playoff contention before he returns.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer announces retirement: 3/10 Disaster Rating
After 15 years of playing in the NFL, Carson Palmer has announced his retirement. Palmer finishes his career with 46,247 passing yards and 294 touchdowns.
While Palmer had previously performed on a high level, that wasn't the case the past two seasons. Palmer had struggled in 2016 and half of 2017 before getting knocked out with a season-ending injury. The Cardinals had to move on from Palmer anyway, so this could be a blessing in disguise.
So, why is there any sort of Disaster Grade? Well, with Bruce Arians and Palmer retiring, that could coax Larry Fitzgerald to do the same. Fitzgerald can still perform on a high level, so it would not be good if he opted to follow suit. Then again, it may not make a difference, so Arizona fans shouldn't be panicking right now.
Cardinals HC Bruce Arians announces retirement: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Bruce Arians was once considered one of the top head coaches in the NFL. His effectiveness slipped this year, as evidenced by some curious decision-making he made in some of the games. However, he was still very good, and his team played hard for him each week. He'll be missed for sure.
This Disaster Grade really depends on whom the Cardinals find to replace Arians. If it's someone terrible like Jeff Fisher, this Disaster Grade will skyrocket to 9/10. However, if the Cardinals can find a young, sharp, offensive-minded coach to replace Arians and coach up the signal-caller they acquire this offseason, this Disaster Grade will decrease substantially. I think a 6/10 makes sense for now, as the Cardinals had a chance to bounce back and make the playoffs with Arians in 2018 if they didn't suffer the massive amounts of injuries they sustained this past season.