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.
Dolphins Gs Ted Larsen and Kraig Urbik out indefinitely (torn biceps, knee): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I somehow missed the Ted Larsen injury from two weeks ago, so I thought I'd group him along with Kraig Urbik. Larsen tore his biceps and will likely be placed on injured reserve, which he can return from after eight games. Urbik, meanwhile, is dealing with a knee injury that may require a scope. It's unclear when he'll return to action.
Larsen's injury constitutes the bulk of this Disaster Grade. He's the only halfway-decent player the Dolphins have at guard, so he'll be missed. It's nice that he can possibly return for the second half of the season, but will he be 100 percent? And will the Dolphins be out of contention by then? Urbik, meanwhile, isn't very good, but he's better than the alternatives. In the wake of his knee issue, some guy named Jesse Davis will have to start in his place.
I have no idea how the Dolphins are going to block against teams with dynamic defensive tackles. The Buccaneers in Week 1, in particular, pose a great challenge with Gerald McCoy and Chris Baker. The same goes for the Chargers in Week 2 (Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane). Despite getting their quarterbacking problems resolved, the Dolphins could still be in trouble because of the state of their offensive line.
Bills WR Anquan Boldin announces retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
The Bills envisioned Anquan Boldin as their third receiver when they signed him two weeks ago, but he won't be playing for them at all. Boldin informed the team Sunday night that he would be retiring.
It's unclear why Boldin has elected to retire, but I can't help but think that he was discouraged by what he saw with the team, especially after the Bills dealt their top receiver and cornerback, then proceeded to play horribly in Thursday's preseason game.
Regardless of the reason, this Disaster Grade is easily a 0/10 for a couple of reasons. First, Boldin turns 37 in October and wasn't projected to be a huge factor. He was projected to be a decent third wideout, but I don't know how much of an impact he would've made on the win total. And second, the Bills appear to be tanking, so any reduction of talent will actually help them in the long run, especially considering how packed the upcoming class appears to be in talent (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft for more.)
Bengals S Shawn Williams out 4-6 weeks (elbow): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Shawn Williams dislocated his elbow against the Chiefs, and it was ruled he would be out 4-6 weeks. He's almost certain to miss the first two games of the season, especially since the second contest is a Thursday night affair. At the very worst, it seems like he'll be missing until the team's Week 6 bye, but that's a worst-case scenario.
Even if Williams is out for the first five games, it's not a huge deal based on the fact that four of the initial five opponents don't have dynamic passing offenses. The Ravens, Texans, Browns and Bills don't throw the ball especially well, so Williams won't be missed very much. The one exception is the Packers in Week 3, but it's unlikely the Bengals were going to win in Green Bay anyway.
Thanks to scheduling dynamics, I'm giving this a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Williams could be back for the Packer game anyway, so 2/10 might even be a bit too high.
Seahawks OT George Fant out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
There have been a number of teams who have lost important offensive linemen this summer, and the Seahawks are the latest victims. Left tackle George Fant had his leg rolled up by teammate Justin Britt during Friday night's game. His leg was put in an air cast, and he was carted off the field. It was later revealed that he suffered a torn ACL and would be out for the year.
This is a huge blow for the Seahawks, who already had offensive line woes. Fant struggled last year, but worked hard this offseason and improved during training camp and the preseason games. Fant's absence creates a big hole for Seattle, which was filled by second-year Rees Odhiambo, who was abused by the Viking backups.
It doesn't appear as though Seattle has many options. The team just missed out on Austin Pasztor, the top remaining player in the NFL Free Agent Tackle Rankings, as he was signed today by the Falcons. The other options are either retired (Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Sebastian Vollmer, King Dunlap) or injured (Michael Oher). Given the lacking replacements, I had to go with a 7/10 Disaster Grade.
Patriots DE Derek Rivers out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Derek Rivers is a third-round rookie, but he was expected to make a big impact this season. The Patriots don't have a very good edge rush outside of Trey Flowers, and Rivers had performed very well in training camp and during the first preseason game. Unfortunately for Rivers, he'll have to wait until 2018 to make an impact because he tore his ACL and is out for the year.
This is definitely a blow for the Patriots, who will struggle to muster a consistent pass rush with Rivers gone. Perhaps they'll get something out of Kony Ealy, but he's been a big disappointment thus far. They could always trade for an edge rusher, but it's unclear who will be available.
I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade, which is par for the course for what I've given second-day draft choices who have been ruled out for the season (Forrest Lamp, Raekwon McMillan). The silver lining is that Rivers should be at full strength by the 2018 season opener.
Raiders CB Sean Smith arrested (felony assault): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Sean Smith was charged with felony assault today for an incident that allegedly took place on July 4 weekend. Smith allegedly stomped on the head of his sister's boyfriend, and he could face up to seven years in prison.
It's safe to assume that the Raiders will be cutting Smith shortly. Smith had gotten benched in favor of T.J. Carrie anyway, so it's likely that Oakland could have released him. Thus, I can't give a very high Disaster Grade for this arrest.
The thing is, the Raiders really needed Smith to step up. He was woeful at the beginning of the 2016 campaign, but improved as the year went on. I thought there was a chance that could happen again, so I have to give Oakland some sort of a Disaster Grade because that won't be a possibility now. However, the odds of Smith repeating what he did last year were somewhat slim.
Colts C Ryan Kelly out until Week 9 (foot surgery): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Several weeks ago, I graded Ryan Kelly being out a couple of weeks as a 2/10. It was not known then that he would need surgery, however. It's apparent now that he will, and Chuck Pagano said Kelly would miss a part of the regular season.
Pagano wasn't very specific about Kelly's timetable, but what's clear is that the Colts are in big trouble. Andrew Luck's Week 1 status is in doubt, and now Indianapolis will be without one of the few talented blockers. Furthermore, the Colts don't really have much behind Kelly.
I considered marking this down as a 7/10, but the Colts have some options. Jeremy Zuttah and Nick Mangold are currently free agents, and both would make sense as replacements for Kelly. There's a chance Indianapolis won't be able to obtain either, however, so I can't go below a 5/10.
Update: Ian Rapoport has reported that Kelly will likely be placed on injured reserve, so his first opportunity to return to action will be Week 9. This doesn't impact this Disaster Grade, though it's nice to hear that Kelly could make it back for a potential playoff run if Luck somehow stays healthy and doesn't miss any action. Unfortunately for the Colts, that doesn't appear to be the case.
Saints CB Delvin Breaux out 4-6 weeks (fractured fibula): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Saints already had massive issues with their defense prior to Nick Fairley's unfortunate heart condition. Now, they'll be without one of their top defensive backs, as Delvin Breaux will be out 4-6 weeks with a fractured fibula. This means he'll likely miss at least a couple regular-season games, and he could be out until the team's Week 5 bye in a worst-case scenario.
That said, I don't think this is a huge deal, based on the schedule. New Orleans' opponents prior to the bye are the Vikings, Patriots, Panthers and Dolphins. Excluding New England, whom the Saints were unlikely to beat anyway, none of those teams have dynamic aerial attacks. Thus, the Saints can survive without Breaux, though they'll need him right after the bye because they have to take on the Lions and Packers in consecutive weeks.
Breaux will be missed, but this isn't a devastating injury by any means. It's fortunate that the Saints don't have to battle multiple great passing attacks during Breaux's absence, so that makes this a 2/10 Disaster Grade.
Dolphins CB Tony Lippett out for season (torn Achilles): 1/10 Disaster Rating
It sucks to lose a young player to a severe injury like a torn Achilles. This will surely stunt Tony Lippett's growth, and he may not be 100 percent for 2018. Just 25, Lippett had some potential despite struggling last year, so it's far from ideal to see him hurt.
That's why I'm giving this a positive Disaster Grade. Otherwise, this injury doesn't seem significant for Miami. Lippett wasn't expected to start this year; he was just a depth player, and it's not like the Dolphins didn't have other young cornerbacks. Xavien Howard (2016 second-rounder) and third-round rookie Cordrea Tankersley are on the roster, and the front office also signed Alterraun Verner, so the team's depth at corner seems fine even without Lippett.
Chargers ILB Denzel Perryman out for 4 games (ankle): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Wow, when is the last time the Chargers have been this lucky with an injury? When Denzel Perryman suffered a non-contact injury to his foot and was subsequently carted into the locker room, things looked grim for the Chargers, and even the preseason TV announcers speculated that it might be an Achilles. As it turns out, Perryman has a minor injury to his ankle, and will "only" be out 4-6 weeks.
Perryman is a talented linebacker and will be missed. The six weeks portion of the timetable puts him on track to play in either the third or fourth game of the season, so if the Chargers miss him for just two contests, that's not a big deal. Still, not having him around Week 1 (Broncos) or Week 3 (Chiefs) would hurt their playoff chances because those are obviously two very important games.
That said, I can't go above a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Perryman may miss only one game in a best-case scenario. Plus, Jatavis Brown played well in relief of injured players last year, so there might not be much of a drop-off. If either Brown or Korey Toomer goes down, however, the Chargers will be in some serious trouble until Perryman returns.
Update: Ian Rapoport has reported that Perryman will miss four games. He'll be missing for the matchups against the Broncos, Dolphins, Chiefs and Eagles. I'm bumping this up to a 3/10. The Chargers still have Jatavis Brown and Korey Toomer, so the Chargers should be OK. Like I said, however, another injury to the linebacking corps could mean trouble.
Lions DE Kerry Hyder out for season (Achilles): 6/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens and Chargers are known as the teams that have been the most snake-bitten by injuries, but the Lions are certainly up there. They suffered a number of casualties last year, especially down the stretch when they lost every game following a promising 9-4 start. With Taylor Decker already out, Detroit couldn't afford to lose any more talented players, but that's exactly what happened when Kerry Hyder tore his Achilles.
Hyder wasn't the best player on the defensive line, but his absence will certainly be felt. Hyder led the Lions in sacks last year with eight, and without him, Detroit doesn't really have anyone who can put consistent pressure on the quarterback outside of Ziggy Ansah. Making matters worse, an Achilles could prevent Hyder from being 100 percent in 2018.
I was debating between this being a 6/10 or a 7/10. I was going to lean toward 7/10, but realized that the Lions could trade for a defensive end if they can start the year off well. Someone like Jerry Hughes could be available, as the Bills are having a fire sale. So, despite things looking grim right now, Detroit definitely has some options.
Bills WR Jordan Matthews out for several weeks (chipped sternum): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Talk about bad trading luck, Jordan Matthews suffered this injury 15 minutes into his first practice. The good news is that this isn't a very serious injury, and Matthews could be available Week 2 or 3 at the latest. The bad news is that Matthews won't be able to get acclimated to the offense, so his learning curve will be pretty steep.
This would be a problem for most teams, but not Buffalo. The Bills are blatantly in tank mode, as they've obtained what appears to be four of the top 40 picks in a terrific 2018 NFL Draft class (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.) Anything that helps them lose at this point is beneficial, and that would be the case with this injury.
Broncos DE/DT Billy Winn out for season (torn ACL, MCL and meniscus): 1/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel bad for Billy Winn, who suffered a major knee injury during the preseason opener. He tore two ligaments and a meniscus, so he has a very long recovery time ahead of him. He may never be the same player again.
However, this is not a big deal for the Broncos at all. Winn was a pedestrian player who was below average versus the run and a non-factor as a pass-rusher. This is only a 1/10 because it affects depth, but Winn's absence almost certainly won't impact Denver's win total in 2017.
Ravens G Alex Lewis out for season (torn labrum): 0/10 Disaster Rating
And another Raven bites the dust. I normally wouldn't trivialize an injury to a starting offensive lineman like this, but I feel inclined to give Baltimore a 0/10 Disaster Rating, as this could be a blessing in disguise.
Following the news that Lewis would be out for the season, a report broke that the Ravens were discussing the possibility of bringing back Jeremy Zuttah. That would be huge for the team, as Zuttah made the Pro Bowl last year, yet was oddly cut by the 49ers. Zuttah, familiar with the system, would be a nice re-signing, and having him on the roster would be a huge upgrade over Lewis, who was absolutely terrible in 2016.
Redskins DE/OLB Trent Murphy out for season (torn ACL, MCL): 4/10 Disaster Rating
The Redskins lost some key personnel on both sides of the ball this offseason, and now they'll be without Trent Murphy, who tore his ACL and MCL in the preseason opener against the Ravens.
This injury definitely hurts, as Murphy was Washington's best edge rusher not named Ryan Kerrigan. Also, given that Murphy tore multiple ligaments, it could be difficult for him to return to 100 percent, though he'll have plenty of time to do so.
The one piece of good news for the Redskins is that they have some options to replace Murphy. Preston Smith is a former second-round pick and has some potential despite struggling last year. Ryan Anderson is a second-round rookie and could contribute right away. Thus, I'm not going to grade this too highly, despite the severity of the injury.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games (domestic violence): 6/10 Disaster Rating
There were varying opinions on what sort of suspension Ezekiel Elliott would receive for domestic violence. Anything from a slap on the wrist to six games was suggested, and it turns out that the NFL has given him the harshest of the predicted penalties.
This is obviously a crushing blow for the Cowboys. They had a pair of Pro Bowl rookies in their backfield last year, but Elliott was the better of the two. He led the NFL in rushing, after all. Part of that was because of how prolific the offensive line was, but that may not be the case in 2017. Ronald Leary is gone, while Tyron Smith is dealing with his infamous bulging dick disc issue. With a weaker rushing attack, Dak Prescott will find it more difficult to move the chains aerially, so he could be in for a sophomore slump - at least until Elliott returns in Week 8.
Of course, Dallas' opponents in the six games must be considered as well. Those foes are the Giants, Broncos (road), Cardinals (road), Rams, Packers and 49ers (road). There are two apparent sure victories there (Rams, 49ers), so the Cowboys' goal should be going 1-3 in the other four contests; if they can come out of the first six games with a 3-3 record, they have to consider that a victory. And I think that's definitely possible. The Giants and Broncos have major offensive line issues as well, while the Cardinals are an unknown commodity because of Carson Palmer's age.
With that in mind, I'm still giving the Cowboys a 6/10 Disaster Grade for this suspension. I believe they can survive this year, but the fact remains that one more incident, per the league's guidelines, could lead to a season-long suspension for Elliott, which would obviously be devastating. Dallas will be hoping that Elliott will be able to stay out of trouble, but he hasn't been able to do that yet.
Dolphins ILB Raekwon McMillan out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
It's official now that Raekwon McMillan is out for the year with a torn ACL. This is a huge blow for the Dolphins, as they were counting on their second-round pick to provide an upgrade in their linebacking corps.
The Dolphins now have a big concern at linebacker. Kiko Alonso is the only reliable starter they have remaining, and he's not the most durable player there is. Lawrence Timmons is also there, but he's decrepit and played poorly last year.
If there's a silver lining, it's that this injury occurred so early that McMillan will likely be 100 percent for 2018. However, his absence will stunt his growth a bit, and it'll also make it more difficult for the Dolphins to reach the playoffs again.
Jets WR Quincy Enunwa out for season (neck): 4/10 Disaster Rating
It seemed like the Jets were in full tank mode this offseason when they let go of some key veterans and then went to sign Josh McCown to compete with Christian Hackenberg to be the starting quarterback. This will only expedite matters, as New York will now be without its top three wideouts from a year ago.
Quincy Enunwa is far from a household name, and he was slated to be the weakest No. 1 receiver in the NFL, but he at least had some promise. A 25-year-old, Enunwa had 58 catches for 857 yards and four touchdowns last season despite playing with poor quarterbacks. He had some potential, and this could stunt his growth.
That said, this is only a 2/10 Disaster Grade for that reason. Enunwa should be fine in 2018, especially if the Jets are able to land Sam Darnold (as seen in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.) There's a great chance that will happen; the Jets are the worst team in the NFL, and that was before this injury.
Update: I'm increasing this to 4/10 because neck injuries can be difficult to come back from on occasion. It's unknown how severe this is, and I'll have another update if there's any developing news.
Falcons CB Jalen Collins suspended for 10 games (PEDs): 5/10 Disaster Rating
If this sounds familiar, it's because it happened last year. Jalen Collins was also suspended for PEDs in 2016, only he was slapped with just a four-game ban. This time, it's 10, and Collins now stands at risk for being out an entire year if he's caught one more time.
Collins, a second-round pick in 2015, was steallar at the end of this past season. Desmond Trufant was knocked out with an injury, but it didn't matter because Collins performed like a No. 1 corner. Collins' injury will hurt a bit, but not so much because Trufant is back. Atlanta will be in serious trouble this time if Trufant gets hurt in the first 10 games of the season. The good news is that Collins will be available in the final six contests.
I don't think this suspension is a huge deal in a vacuum because of Collins' impending availability, but as mentioned, an early injury to Trufant would hurt. Also, a year-long ban for Collins is now a possibility, so that would explain why this is a 5/10 Disaster Grade.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill likely out for season (knee): 4/10 Disaster Rating
It's not official yet, but Adam Schefter is reporting that the Dolphins are considering season-ending knee surgery for Ryan Tannehill. No decision has been made yet, but it looks grim for Miami.
Most starting quarterbacks getting knocked out for the year would earn an extremely high Disaster Grade. I wouldn't call a 6/10 "extremely high," and it's a 6/10 because the Dolphins have one of the best No. 2 signal-callers in the league. There was no drop-off from Tannehill to Matt Moore last season, and Moore handled himself well in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh. The Dolphins averaged 21.6 points in the games Tannehill started last year, and that number increased to 23.5 in Moore's starts. That's not to say that Moore is better or equal to Tannehill, but he's not much worse.
That said, the Dolphins have to feel discouraged that they won't get to see Tannehill progress in the second year of Adam Gase's offense. He should be fine for 2018, but it's too bad that he won't get to improve in 2017.
Update: I'm cutting this Disaster Grade down from 6/10 to 4/10 in the wake of the Jay Cutler signing. I actually think Cutler could be an upgrade for Miami's offense, especially considering his familiarity with Adam Gase's system. However, it still sucks for the Dolphins that Tannehill won't be able to progress in 2017. Also, there has to be some concern with Tannehill's knee going forward, as he's had multiple injuries on it in the past eight months.
49ers G Joshua Garnett and LB Malcolm Smith out indefinitely (knee, chest): 0/10 Disaster Rating
I thought I'd group these two together because they both deserve the same Disaster Grade. And that would be a zero.
Any non-long-term injury is a good injury for the 49ers. Though they'll be more competitive this season, they still stand no chance of making the playoffs, so they need to lose as many games as possible. If they can't get Kirk Cousins, they'll need to be in a position to draft Sam Darnold, or at least Josh Allen. If they do get Cousins, they'll need to give him the best support possible, whether that's with Trey Adams or Saquon Barkley.
Chargers G Forrest Lamp out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I gave the Ravens a 4/10 Disaster Grade for fourth-round rookie guard Nico Siragusa being out for the year. As with Siragusa, Forrest Lamp was projected to start, but he was a better prospect as a second-rounder. Thus, this hurts a bit more.
The Chargers, like the Ravens, are very used to injuries. There should be major concerns with their training staff, and it's doubtful that Lamp's ACL will be the final major injury of the summer. The Chargers made a great effort to upgrade their offensive line, so it's disheartening to see a projected starter go down.
Texans WR Will Fuller out indefinitely (broken collarbone): 3/10 Disaster Rating
It's not yet clear how long Will Fuller be out, but most broken collarbones take 6-12 weeks to return from. If that's going to be the case for Fuller, this is a painful injury for the Texans, but not one they can't overcome to reach the playoffs.
Fuller has major problems hanging on to the football, as drops plagued his rookie campaign. However, he's been working on his hands so that he can fully take advantage of his game-breaking speed. Deshaun Watson will wish he could have Fuller at his disposal, but considering that Watson is merely a rookie, the Texans were planning on winning with a strong defense and a steady running game anyway. Fuller's presence would have stretched the field and opened things up for Lamar Miller (and Watson) running the ball, but the Texans can survive. Besides, Fuller should be able to return for the second half of the season, so I think a 3/10 Disaster Grade feels right.
Rams DT Dominique Easley out for season (torn ACL): 2/10 Disaster Rating
This injury hurts Dominique Easley a lot more than it hinders the Rams. Easley was expected to start along with Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers on Los Angeles' new three-man front. That won't be the case anymore, as the talented Easley tore an ACL for the third time since his college days.
Easley's absence will create a huge hole on the defensive line, where the pedestrian Ethan Westbrooks will have to start. However, given that the Rams weren't expected to compete for a playoff spot this year, Easley's injury could actually help them secure a better selection in what looks like a terrific NFL Draft. If Jared Goof is awful, the Rams could be in a position to select Sam Darnold or Josh Allen. If not, Trey Adams, Arden Key, Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley would all be great choices.
There are no long-term ramifications for Los Angeles with Easley's injury, since Easley was signed for just one year. Easley, meanwhile, has a tough recovery ahead of him, considering that this is his third major knee injury. He may never be the same again, so this is an 8/10 or 9/10 Disaster Grade for him personally. The Rams, on the other hand, get just a 2/10 because there was only an extremely slim chance they'd be competitive enough to be in position for a wild-card spot. This injury could actually help them in the long run.
Colts QB Andrew Luck rumored to begin season on PUP list (shoulder): 8/10 Disaster Rating
There are conflicting reports on Andrew Luck. Jason La Canfora said he has heard rumblings about Luck beginning the year on the reserve/PUP list because of his shoulder issues. That would mean he would miss six games, which would almost certainly cost the Colts their 2017 season. If Luck is out for six games, Indianapolis would likely have to go 10-0 or 9-1 when Luck returns to make the playoffs, which is highly unlikely to happen.
Meanwhile, general manager Chris Ballard told the media that Luck will be activated from the active/PUP list prior to Week 1. This could be wishful thinking on Ballard's part, however, and even if Luck is activated, there's no guarantee that he'll play early on. And even if he does, he may not be 100 percent.
As you can tell, Indianapolis' season is in jeopardy right now unless Luck's situation rapidly improves in the near future. I'm grading this as an 8/10, and it could easily be 9/10 if La Canfora's reports are confirmed.
Ravens G Nico Siragusa out for season (torn ACL, MCL, PCL): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Forgive me if I'm missing anyone, but this is now Nico Siragusa, Tavon Young, Kenneth Dixon, Crockett Gillmore and Dennis Pitta all out for the season, with Joe Flacco nursing a bad back, Breshad Perriman dealing with a hamstring, and John Urschel retiring. I mentioned the Redskins as having one of the worst offseasons in the NFL, but Baltimore trumps Washington for that distinction.
Losing Siragusa hurts. He was only a fourth-round pick, but he was expected to start at left guard. With Siragusa out, Alex Lewis will likely have to get the nod, which is horrible news because he was atrocious last season. Baltimore now has three holes on the offensive line at left guard, center and right tackle.
I can't give this a very high Disaster Grade because it's unclear how good Siragusa would have been, but without him, there's no help at the position this year. Furthermore, Siragusa's massively torn knee could mean that he won't even be fully healthy for 2018.
Redskins TE Jordan Reed week-to-week (toe): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Several teams can argue that they've had the worst offseason of 2017. The Redskins are one of those franchises. Between numerous key departures, the controversy surrounding the former general manager, and the dispute with Kirk Cousins, Washington has been in complete turmoil. Now, things appear to be getting worse, as Jordan Reed could be out for a few weeks.
Reed, according to Jay Gruden, has no timetable for a return after seeing a specialist. The injury was supposed to be a simple toe malady, but it's apparently more complicated than that. It's possible that Reed could miss the opening game of the season, and even if he comes back by then, there's no telling if he'll be 100 percent.
With no clear injury timetable, this is a difficult grade to give, but a 4/10 sounds right for now. Perhaps Reed will be fine, but there's a good chance he could be out or limited for a while. If so, that's a crushing blow for a Redskin offense that lost Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.
Update: Reed is considered "day to day" now, which is obviously good news. He's still a major injury risk, however, so this still needs to be a positive number, but I've cut it in half from 4/10.
Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich announces retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
A reader pointed out that I had Rob Ninkovich as an offseason departure in my New England Patriots NFL Season Preview, as I forgot that he was extended for a year last September. Then, I saw his retirement and was going to do a grade, but I forgot to do so until another reader, Warren K., reminded me.
Considering how forgetful I've been about Ninkovich, it just goes to show how insignificant I thought he was to New England's plans going forward. Ninkovich had been a very solid role player for the Patriots over the years, but he had slowed down in recent seasons. Ninkovich struggled immensely last year, so I didn't give it a second thought about New England parting ways with him. At 33, Ninkovich didn't have anything remaining in the tank, which is why this is a 0/10 Disaster Grade.
Jaguars OT Branden Albert announces retirement: 5/10 Disaster Rating
Well, I guess we can definitively say that the Dolphins won the Branden Albert-Julius Thomas trade. Albert has announced his retirement after nine seasons with the Chiefs and Dolphins (plus a couple of months with Jacksonville.)
This is a tough grade to make because of Albert's injury history. Albert was slated to be Jacksonville's starting left tackle, but there's no guarantee how effective he would've been. Albert was woeful in 2016, as he was just beaten up as a byproduct of being hurt so much throughout his career. When the Jaguars acquired him, I thought it was a mistake because Albert has been very unreliable. There was some potential for him rebounding in 2017, but I didn't think there was a high-percentage chance of that happening.
That said, the Jaguars still lost their projected starting left tackle, so second-round rookie Cam Robinson will undergo trial by fire. He'll be the blind-side protector in Week 1, meaning he'll be going up against one of Houston's elite edge rushers. That obviously doesn't bode well for Jacksonville. Also, Robinson moving to left tackle means that the team is very thin at guard. Thus, Albert's retirement is more about just the blind-side protector missing. It means that Jacksonville has to re-shuffle its offensive line about a month prior to the start of the season, which is why I've graded this as a 5/10.
Ravens TE Crockett Gillmore out indefinitely (torn meniscus): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Today is a day that ends in "Y," so that means that the Ravens have incurred another injury. This time, it's Crockett Gillmore, who will be out a while with meniscus surgery.
The Ravens really need to consider rehauling their entire training staff because their injury rates have been unbelievably high over the past couple of seasons. Some injuries have crushed them, but this one won't. In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise, which is why I've graded this 0/10. Crockett Gillmore is a decent player, but perhaps his meniscus surgery will prompt Baltimore to sign Gary Barnidge, who would be a clear upgrade over what the team currently has at tight end.
Seahawks DT Malik McDowell likely out for season (ATV accident): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Second-round rookie Malik McDowell suffered injuries in an ATV accident and is likely out for the year, according to Pete Carroll. Fortunately, the injuries are not career-threatening, but it's sounding like Seattle won't have its new defensive tackle until 2018.
The Seahawks didn't have much of an interior pass-rushing presence entering the draft, so McDowell was a logical fit from a needs perspective. He'll be out though, so Seattle will still struggle in that regard. That said, I can't go above 2/10 here because it wasn't known how effective McDowell would be. McDowell had some alarming work ethic concerns coming out of Michigan State, so the odds of him producing right away were pretty slim.
Broncos DE Shane Ray out 6-8 weeks (wrist): 4/10 Disaster Rating
I can't believe I'm writing an entry here about a team not named the Ravens. It's an AFC West squad, and I'm equally shocked it's not the Chargers.
The Broncos lost DeMarcus Ware this offseason, while fellow edge rusher Shaq Barrett was also dealing with an injury. Now, Shane Ray is out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his wrist. If Ray is sidelined for the latter part of that range, he could be out until Week 6, since Denver has a Week 5 bye.
Ware's departure wasn't seen as a big deal because of Ray, who performed on a high level last year. Not having Ray will hurt, especially when considering the caliber of quarterbacks the Broncos will battle prior to their bye. Three of the four signal-callers are Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott and Derek Carr. All three quarterbacks can beat Denver if its only pass rush is coming from Von Miller.
I'm grading this as a 4/10. It could be possible that Ray will return as early as Week 2, but the possibility of him not seeing the field until the middle of October is no laughing matter, as it could cost Denver a wild-card spot.
Ravens C John Urschel announces retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
I mean, how long will it be until I have to rename this page "Baltimore Ravens Disaster Ratings?" It seems like there's something dubious with this team each passing day. Today, it's presumed starting center John Urschel calling it quits to pursue a doctorate in mathematics at MIT.
Losing a starting center would be a crushing blow for most teams, but that already happened to the Ravens this offseason when Jeremy Zuttah joined the 49ers. Urschel was expected to replace him, but he wasn't a strong option. He wasn't a horrible blocker, by any means, but he's been pretty pedestrian. Ryan Jensen, expected to replace him, is the same caliber player.
I'm giving the Ravens a 2/10 grade because an injury now to Jensen would potentially be disastrous. Urschel's retirement has hurt depth more than anything, and Baltimore no longer has any backup plan at center. Then again, Jensen going down could prompt the Ravens to sign Nick Mangold, which they probably should have done already.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco out 3-6 weeks (back): 5/10 Disaster Rating
What was I saying yesterday about Baltimore's training staff? The Ravens have suffered yet another injury, as Joe Flacco is dealing with a back issue. He's expected to miss anywhere between one and six weeks, according to various reports.
There's a wide range of expected absence for Flacco because back problems are weird. They sometimes linger for a very long time, as I very well know. It could be possible that Flacco's back could flare up later this season. Then again, this could be nothing, and Flacco could be completely healthy by the opener, which, as it so happens, is about six weeks from now.
I thought about making this a 6/10 Disaster Grade when the report was first released, but the recent news about Flacco being out maybe just one week made me drop it to a 5/10. There's a good chance Flacco will be just fine, but the concern of him being banged up is keeping me from making this a lesser grade than 5/10.
Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon out for season (torn meniscus): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens really need to look at what's going on with their training staff because the rate at which their players suffer injuries is higher than any other team in the NFL, save for perhaps the Chargers. Tavon Young is already out for the year, and now Kenneth Dixon will join him because of his torn meniscus.
It was initially reported that Dixon would be out 6-8 weeks, but the meniscus needs a full repair. This is obviously unfortunate for the Ravens, who were counting on Dixon to carry the load once he returned from suspension in Week 5. Instead, Baltimore will have to rely on the pedestrian Terrance West and the 32-year-old Danny Woodhead, who is coming off a knee procedure of his own. It would be nice if Baltimore could sign someone viable, but the top NFL Free Agent Running Backs are DeAngelo Williams and Rashad Jennings. Karlos Williams is also listed there, but he's suspended indefinitely, so he's not a real option. Someone who might be an option, as Facebook friend Alex C. pointed out, is Carlos Hyde, who sounds like he'll be available via trade because San Francisco doesn't deem him as a good fit for its offense.
This is bad news for the Ravens, as they won't have much of a running game without Dixon. It's not the end of the world, as I think there might be an opportunity to obtain Hyde. Still, it sucks that they'd have to surrender a draft pick for him, so I can't grade this lower than a 3/10.
Chargers WR Mike Williams out for season (back surgery): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The Chargers are in a new city, but they apparently have the same injury woes. The latest player to get hurt is seventh-overall rookie Mike Williams, who, according to Adam Schefter, is likely out for the year because he needs back surgery.
It goes without saying that this is absolutely brutal for the Chargers, a team that has sustained countless injuries over the past several seasons. It's tough to blame this one on the training staff, but it's unfortunate nonetheless. Williams was expected to be a big-time end-zone threat for Philip Rivers across from Keenan Allen. With Williams and Allen, as well as Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates at tight end and Melvin Gordon in the backfield, the Chargers were seen as having one of the best offensive arsenals in the league. They still have plenty of talent, but Williams' absence will hurt.
Of course, the bigger concern for Williams is the future. Back surgery is nothing to scoff at, and it could be possible that Williams will never be 100 percent because of his ailing back. That would be a shame, though also par for the course for the Chargers. Long-term effects is why I'm giving this a 7/10 Disaster Grade.
Update: Ian Rapoport has contradicted Adam Schefter, reporting that surgery is no longer on the table for Williams. It was an option 3-4 weeks ago, but Williams has apparently improved enough for it to be no longer in consideration.
This is obviously great news for the Chargers. Williams is not out of the woods quite yet, and it's sounding like he could miss several games, but it appears as though he'll be able to play at some point in 2017. Whether his back flares up remains to be seen, but Charger fans have to be feeling much better about this situation now.
Jaguars DE Dante Fowler arrested: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Dante Fowler has been a disappointment as an NFL player thus far, as the Jaguars have gotten nothing out of him. Fowler missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL, and he was horrible last year. Now, Fowler has just been arrested for the second time in 16 months.
Fowler was charged with assault in March 2016, though he had the charge dropped. Now, he's been slapped with simple battery for hitting a man with glasses and then stepping on them. While Fowler isn't likely to receive a lengthy suspension from knocking out Steve Urkel, it's troubling that he continues to show a great deal of immaturity. Fowler's work ethic has also come into question, and it appears as though the 23-year-old (in August) just doesn't get it. Fortunately for the Jaguars, they have a more promising player at the position in Yannick Ngakoue; not to mention third-round rookie Dawuane Smoot.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott involved in altercation: 1/10 Disaster Rating
TMZ has reported that a witness saw Ezekiel Elliott punch a man at a bar Sunday night. The man suffered a broken nose. It must be noted that there is no video of this, and the witness was reportedly intoxicated. No charges were filed.
People were making a big deal out of this on Twitter, with some even complaining that Elliott still has a job in the NFL, while Colin Kaepernick doesn't. Equating the two doesn't make any sense. Never mind the massive talent disparity; it's not even clear if Elliott has ever done anything wrong. Elliott is being investigated for some domestic abuse charges, but he's never been found guilty of anything yet. And it's obviously unclear if he was the one who punched the man in this instance.
This is a 1/10 Disaster Grade at best. I'd say a 0/10, but it's troubling that Elliott continues to put himself in these bad situations. He really needs to evaluate whom he hangs out with before he actually gets into trouble.
Cowboys DT David Irving suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 4/10 Disaster Rating
It was reported in May that David Irving would be facing a possible four-game suspension. Well, it's official now, as Irving will be banned for a quarter of the upcoming season.
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.
If there's a silver lining here, it's that the Cowboys' first four games are winnable, even without Irving; they play the Giants (home), Broncos (road), Cardinals (road) and Rams (home). None of those teams seem particularly strong. However, there's definitely a chance Dallas gets tripped up in at least one of those contests. Given that the Cowboys are expected to be in a very tight divisional race with the Eagles, one loss could make all the difference.
Saints DT Nick Fairley likely out for season (heart condition): 7/10 Disaster Rating
There's been some dubious news out of New Orleans, as Nick Fairley's future is in doubt. He's dealing with a heart condition, and one doctor said he might have to retire.
If the doctor is right, this is obviously horrible news for Fairley, who obviously needs to do what's in his best interest. He's getting opinions from other doctors, but it's sounding like he could walk away from the game forever.
As for the Saints, this would be a painful loss worthy of a 7/10 Disaster Grade. Fairley was their best interior defender last year. Sheldon Rankins is expected to improve if he's healthy next season, but New Orleans thought enough of Fairley to give him a 4-year, $28 million contract this offseason. The Saints made some improvements to their defense this spring, but all of their hard work could be for naught because they'll be missing a key member of their stop unit if Fairley has to retire.
Update: Fairley has been placed on the reserve/NFI list, meaning he's likely to miss all of 2017. His career could also be over. This is obviously a huge blow, as the Saints lost their top interior presence on what happens to be a poor defense. It also obviously sucks for Fairley, so hopefully his condition isn't as dire as it sounds.
Saints OT Terron Armstead out 4-6 months (torn labrum): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Two prominent left tackles are out for 4-6 months with the same exact injury. Terron Armstead joins Detroit's Taylor Decker in being sidelined with a torn labrum.
This is obviously horrible news for the Saints. Armstead is extremely talented. It could crush whatever playoff hopes they had, though this Disaster Grade of 6/10 is slightly lower than Detroit's 7/10. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, Armstead being hurt is hardly a surprise. Armstead has never played a full NFL season, as he was on the field for just seven contests in 2016. Second, New Orleans prepared for this, selecting Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. It's unclear how well Ramczyk will play, but there is at least some hope that he'll be a capable replacement, as at least one team saw him as a first-round talent. And third, Drew Brees hates interior pressure much more than heat off the edge. Losing Max Unger for 4-6 months would be more devastating, though it's worth noting that Unger is hurt as well.
Lions OT Taylor Decker out 4-6 months (shoulder surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
The Lions had a ton of optimism coming out of free agency and the draft. They seemed like they owned one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, which is crucial in the post-CBA football world. Unfortunately for them, their blocking unit took a hit when it was announced that Taylor Decker would have shoulder surgery.
Decker, the team's left tackle, had an amazing rookie campaign in 2016 and was expected to be even better this upcoming season. That almost certainly won't be the case now, as it's unclear when Decker will return to action. Jim Caldwell wouldn't commit to Decker being ready for the season opener.
Decker's timetable is shrouded in mystery right now, so it's difficult to assign a particular Disaster Grade. If he misses one or two games, this will be a 4/10, as his absence will likely result in losses to the Cardinals and Giants, both of whom possess terrific edge rushers. If, however, Decker is out for close to half the season, the Lions can probably kiss their playoff aspirations goodbye.
Update: Decker is out 4-6 months, making this a 7/10 Disaster Grade at the very least. I even considered bumping this up to an 8/10, but there's a chance (albeit a slight one) Decker could return in early October. Decker's absence will create a huge hole at left tackle, making Detroit's offense far less potent. I liked the Lions to perhaps make a deep run into the playoffs, but not anymore. They may fail to qualify for the postseason now with Decker out for at least half of 2017.
Jets cut ILB David Harris: 0/10 Disaster Rating
I like to look at instant reactions to things like this on Twitter to gauge what fans are thinking. Some responses to David Harris' release from Jets fans were, "This makes no sense!" and "We're going to be horrible now!" Well, that apparently seems to be the plan.
The Jets appear to be in full tank mode, 76ers style. They've gutted their roster and appear to be on track to having the worst record in the NFL this season. That's a great thing in this instance, as Sam Darnold is projected to be the top pick next April (here's my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.) Landing Darnold would be enormous for the Jets, and even Wyoming's Josh Allen wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. Missing out on either would be devastating, so the Jets are doing well to making sure that doesn't happen.
This is a 0/10 Disaster Grade. Harris is 33, so he doesn't have much time left in the NFL. By the time the Jets are competitive again, he wouldn't have been on the team anyway, so it's a nice move to let a veteran like this have a shot at winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, Raiders, Packers, etc.
Chiefs cut WR Jeremy Maclin: 4/10 Disaster Rating
This release doesn't make much sense. Jeremy Maclin, at 29, is still a passable No. 1 receiver at this stage of his career. He struggled last year, but only because he dealt with injuries. He was looking healthy at OTAs, so he was bound to bounce back with a strong 2017 campaign. Maclin's release saves $10 million, but also creates $7.2 million in dead money over the next two seasons.
The Chiefs qualified for the playoffs with Maclin struggling last year, so they can get back to the postseason without him. However, their potential for advancing deep into January is very limited without him. The only capable receiver left on the roster is Tyreek Hill, and he's far from being a finished product. Plus, if Patrick Mahomes has to take over in the event of an injury to Alex Smith, it'll hurt if the rookie quarterback won't have a legitimate No. 1 wideout at his disposal.
I think this is a 4 or a 5 on the Disaster Rating scale. It's not a killer, as the Chiefs could still make the playoffs, but their upside is more capped now than it already was with Smith.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta out for season (fractured hip): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens have lost two players in as many days. Tavon Young suffered a torn ACL yesterday, and now Dennis Pitta fractured and dislocated his hip for the third time in his career. He's done for the year, and he may never play again.
Though Pitta suffered a more severe injury than Young, this Disaster Grade isn't nearly as high. Pitta caught 86 passes last season, but the Ravens are deep at tight end. Ben Watson is coming back from injury, while Crockett Gillmore is a steady player. Maxx Williams still has potential. If none of these players are particularly promising, the Ravens could always sign Gary Barnidge, who would actually be an upgrade over Pitta.
Ravens CB Tavon Young out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
And so it begins again. The Ravens have suffered through more injuries than most teams over the past couple of seasons, and it appears as though history is repeating itself. Tavon Young is out for the year with a torn ACL after bumping into another player during practice.
This is a tough loss for the Ravens, but it's not an overly painful one. Young is a good player - he had a great rookie campaign this past season as the team's slot cornerback - but Baltimore is pretty set at the position. The Ravens signed Brandon Carr and drafted Marlon Humphrey in the first round this offseason, so they're pretty deep there and can sustain a loss like Young's. That said, Carr has had an up-and-down career, and Humphrey is an unknown because he's never played in the NFL. If both struggle in 2017, the Ravens will really wish they had Young.
Colts S Clayton Geathers uncertain for Week 1 (neck): 1/10 to 5/10 Disaster Rating
Clayton Geathers may not be a household name, but he's a talented, young safety who was expected to take a leap forward this season next to Malik Hooker. Geathers, just 25 (on June 1), performed well last year, and he and Hooker could make for a stellar safety tandem in 2017.
However, there's some concern with Geathers' availability in Week 1. He has a neck injury that required surgery, and issues of that sort can always be tricky to recover from.
If Geathers misses the first few games this season, it actually won't be a big deal. Four of Indianapolis' first five opponents are the Rams, Cardinals, Browns and 49ers, and those teams feature terrible, sub-par, or rapidly declining quarterbacks. So, the Colts can survive without Geathers until Week 6, when their schedule starts becoming more difficult as far as defending the pass is concerned. That said, Geathers will really be missed if he's out for most or all of the 2017 season. Hence, the wide range in this Disaster Grade.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert unsure if he'll be ready for training camp (back surgery): 2/10 to 6/10 Disaster Rating
Tyler Eifert was on the field for only eight games last season, and it appears as though he could be in danger of missing more action in 2017. Eifert, coming off back surgery, said he wasn't sure if he would be ready for training camp.
This is potentially horrible news, as Cincinnati's offense struggled immensely without Eifert last year. The Bengals did add some firepower in John Ross and Joe Mixon, but Eifert is Andy Dalton's preferred red-zone target, so the Bengals' scoring attack would definitely take a hit if Eifert were to miss more games this upcoming season.
I'm treating this similarly to the Mike Pouncey grade below. Perhaps Eifert will return in the middle of training camp, and everything will be all right. However, there's also a chance that he won't be 100 percent for the entire season. Eifert is not durable at all - he has missed 26 games the past three years - and back surgery is no laughing matter. Even if he makes it back to the field, he may not be quite himself.
Dolphins C Mike Pouncey injured (hip): 2/10 to 6/10 Disaster Rating
Mike Pouncey is one of the better centers in the NFL when healthy, but he has had trouble staying on the field. Pouncey played in just five contests last year and hasn't been on the field for the entire season since 2012. It appears as though that tradition will continue, as Pouncey reportedly could sit out the preseason with a troublesome hip injury. This problem could leak into the regular season, whether that's Pouncey being limited or completely out.
This is a huge deal. Center is arguably the second-most-important position in the NFL, and Pouncey is the key to Miami's offense. If you want proof, the Dolphins were 4-1 last year with Pouncey on the field, with the sole loss happening during the Hurricane Matthew distraction. In the other four games, the Dolphins averaged 29 points. In the Pouncey-less contests, Miami was 6-5, averaging 20.9 points.
It's hard to judge this Disaster Grade because it's unknown how severe this injury is. However, given that the Dolphins already fear that Pouncey could be out throughout the entire preseason, it's likely that he won't be healthy come September. If he misses a fair amount of games, this is a 6/10 Disaster Grade. However, if Pouncey is just dinged up early on and healthy by Weeks 3 or 4, this isn't a huge deal.
Rams Stadium Delayed One Year: 5/10 Disaster Rating
If you ask most people, they would've said that they thought moving one team to Los Angeles was an idiotic idea, given that the city had never supported professional football. Despite this, the league re-located two teams to Los Angeles, with the hope of generating revenue from a large TV market and a new stadium. Well, that new stadium has been delayed until 2020, thanks to supposed record rainfall.
This is not a good look for the league. No one in Los Angeles cares about the Rams or Chargers, and now both teams will have to play in front of empty seats for three more seasons. By 2020, most people might even forget that there are teams in the city, and it's likely that the new stadium opening will be a flop.
Cardinals LB Deone Bucannon undergoes ankle surgery: 2/10 or 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Cardinals lost several key pieces of their defense this offseason, namely Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson and Kevin Minter. They could be without a fourth starter for several weeks, as Deone Bucannon underwent ankle surgery.
Bucannon could begin the year on the PUP list, but the Cardinals are more optimistic, as they're hopeful he can return at some point in September. It's worth noting that this does not mean that he'll be 100 percent.
With several key players gone, this could be a harmful blow to Arizona's playoff aspirations. It really depends on how long Bucannon is out. If he misses two or three games, it's not a big deal, hence the 2/10 rating. If, however, he lands on the PUP list, this would really hurt Arizona. It's not nearly as devastating as losing someone like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu or Chandler Jones, but Bucannon is an important player in the Cardinals' defense.
Browns CB Howard Wilson likely out for season (fractured kneecap): 1/10 Disaster Rating
This is obviously horrible news for Howard Wilson, who now faces an uphill battle to become a viable NFL player. Wilson already has a torn ACL in his past, and now he has to recover from this knee injury. He may never be the player the Browns thought he would be as a result. For Wilson himself, this is probably an 8/10 Disaster Grade.
However, this isn't a big deal for the Browns. Wilson was just a fourth-round pick, so it's not like he was expected to contribute this year. And even if that weren't the case, the Browns won't be making any sort of playoff push. Perhaps Wilson can heal up and be a factor in 2018, which is the earliest Cleveland can be pretty competitive anyway. If not, losing out on a fourth-round pick isn't the end of the world, especially for a team with so many assets in the superior 2018 NFL Draft (click here for my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.)
Cowboys ILB Rolando McClain arrested (drug possession, firearm without permit): 10/10 Disaster Rating
Let me be clear that this is not a Disaster Grade for the Cowboys. Dallas had to be fully aware that it wasn't going to have Rolando McClain available anytime soon. After all, McClain was suspended for a full season back in December.
Given these recent arrests, it's unlikely McClain will ever play again. Marijuana possession obviously isn't the worst thing, but the fact that McClain keeps getting into trouble will keep him from playing in the NFL for a very long time. This is a 10/10 grade for McClain because I don't think he'll play another down again.
Saints C Max Unger questionable for start of season (foot surgery): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Ian Rapoport created quite the buzz Monday morning when he said Max Unger would be doubtful for the season opener because of foot surgery. The Saints' beat writers are a bit more optimistic, calling Unger questionable. If the 2017 NFL Draft has taught us anything, it's that local reporters are much more reliable than the national guys. However, Unger being questionable for the start of the season because of a foot injury is still potentially damaging for the Saints' 2017 chances.
Unger is a talented center and a very key member of the offense. It's my belief that center is the second-most-important position on offense, especially for the Saints, as Drew Brees hates interior pressure more than heat coming from the edge. Unger's absence would be especially damaging for New Orleans because of that reason. Good offensive line play has become extremely crucial in the post-CBA NFL, as teams that can't block have major issues sustaining success. If Unger is out or hurt, New Orleans' offense won't be nearly as potent as it could be.
There's a chance that Unger will make it back in time and be 100 percent, which is why this grade is "only" a 5/10. However, Unger could just as easily be absent, and even if he makes it back, he could rush to return and fail to be healthy as a consequence. That would be a crushing blow for the Saints' 2017 aspirations, as their defense is so bad that they'll need to rely on their offense to outscore everyone.
Giants QB Eli Manning Accused of Selling Fake Memorabilia: 10/10 or 0/10 Disaster Rating
This is a bizarre story that was published by the New York Post on Thursday. The Post reported that Eli Manning was part of a conspiracy to defraud collectors by selling fake game-worn gear. It obtained an e-mail exchange with equipment manager Joe Skiba where Manning was asked to provide two helmets that could "pass as game used," and Manning complied.
It's unclear how true this entire story is - the Giants' lawyers have said that the exchange was taken out of context - but there are other reports stating that the Giants deleted other e-mails.
If true, this is obviously a horrific look for the NFL. Manning signed a $101.5 million contract two years ago, so a player earning a nine-figure contract ripping off people for thousands of dollars is just ridiculous. If guilty, I imagine Manning would be suspended for at least one season, and the Giants could lose a first-round pick for destroying evidence. I'd have to believe that Roger Goodell would strip the Patriots of a mid-round selection as well, just because he hates them.
Then again, this could be fake news. Maybe these exchanges were really taken out of context, and Manning didn't do anything wrong. Either way, the Giants need to be thinking about finding a new quarterback in one of the next two NFL Drafts because Manning's play fell off substantially in 2016. The possibility of Manning being suspended could prompt them to select a quarterback early in the 2017 NFL Draft (check the 2017 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings here.)
Redskins DE/OLB Junior Galette arrested: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Junior Galette was arrested this past weekend for disorderly conduct. The police report said he struck another individual and ran away from a police officer. He was then subdued with a stun gun. Galette must have been bored, as he hasn't played since 2014 because of dual Achilles tears.
Galette is a bum who wasn't expected to contribute to the Redskins anytime soon. One Achilles tear is bad enough, but two consecutive tears would've been too much to come back from. Galette likely would've been a shell of his former self in 2017, even if he'd be able to suit up.
With this news, the Redskins could release Galette, who was caught whipping women on camera a couple of years ago. Then again, it takes the Redskins eons to do anything, so perhaps they'll let him linger on the roster for a few months as Chris Cooley spreads rumors about him.
49ers CB Tramaine Brock arrested and released: 1/10 Disaster Rating
I suppose there are actually two Disaster Grades to issue: one for the 49ers, and one for Tramaine Brock. The San Francisco cornerback was arrested for domestic violence, as police reportedly found his girlfriend with "visible injuries." The 49ers wasted no time in releasing him.
For Brock, this is potentially a 10/10 Disaster Grade. If the allegations are true, Brock may never play in the NFL again. Ray Rice hasn't drawn any interest since his infamous video was released, so why would Brock if he's guilty?
As for the 49ers, losing Brock is not a big deal. Brock is a good player, but he was entering his contract year anyway. San Francisco is years away from competing for a playoff spot, so by the time the 49ers are ready to do so, Brock would be past his prime anyway. Not having Brock will allow the 49ers to have a better shot at the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is packed with great talent (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here.)
Cowboys QB Tony Romo announces retirement: 9/10 and 5/10 Disaster Ratings
Well, the good news for the Texans and Broncos is that they no longer have to wait for Jerry Jones to release his long-time quarterback. Tony Romo has announced his retirement from football, and he will now pursue a career in broadcasting.
This is painful for both teams, especially the Texans. They now have to move forward with Tom Savage as their quarterback unless they can obtain a quarterback at the bottom of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft (check out my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) Romo was always favored to sign with Houston. He wanted to be there more than Denver because it would be close to home. He's about to have a third child, so he didn't want to stray far from Dallas. Plus, being on the Texans would've given him the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl contender.
Houston almost certainly would've made a run at Super Bowl LII as long as Romo could stay healthy. Granted, that was far from a guarantee, considering his dubious injury history, but it at least would've given the Texans a chance. Now, they'll be very lucky if they aren't surpassed by the Titans as the AFC South winner. The Texans clearly deserve a very high Disaster Grade. A 9/10 seems right.
As for the Broncos, their Disaster Grade isn't as high. Romo, as mentioned, was favored to go to Houston. Plus, Denver has a viable quarterback in place for the future in Paxton Lynch. With Romo definitely not in the picture, the Broncos can use all of their resources to develop Lynch, who has the potential to be a very good NFL signal-caller. It still hurts the Broncos that they can't compete for Super Bowl LII - hence the 5/10 Disaster Grade - but perhaps this is better for the long haul.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention CBS hiring Romo. This is perhaps the best news of the day, as Romo will be paired with Jim Nantz, displacing the atrocious Phil Simms. We no longer will have to hear Simms drone on and on about nothing. The days of hearing Simms answer his own questions and mutter stuff about tables being switched are finally over.
Update: Facebook friend Joey Y. wrote the following: "What about a douchebag grade for Jerry Jones? Kind of ridiculous that he forced Tony Romo to walk away by refusing to release him, after he was your quarterback for 10 years."
How could I forget to mention Jones? He definitely deserves a 10/10 for acting like a petulant child who didn't want anyone else to play with his precious toy. Had Jones released Romo earlier, Romo would probably be with the Texans or Broncos right now. I can't believe how utterly selfish a grown man acted in this instance.
Raiders moving to Las Vegas: 9/10 Disaster Rating
The NFL has done some stupid things over the years, but they've generally gotten more things right than wrong. This decision is not included in that statement.
The league owners voted 31-1 in favor of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, with the Dolphins being the lone franchise that opposed this decision. I never thought I'd say this, but the other owners should've followed Stephen Ross' example, because he was the only one who wasn't clueless in that meeting.
I can't believe the Raiders are doing this. They are going to have no one in the stands, and they're going to have the worst home-field advantage in NFL history. Sure, there will be some tourists there going to the games, and I'm sure those attending Vegas business conferences will enjoy the contests from club boxes, but as far as general fans are concerned, the Raiders will have none there. Mark Davis may have to go to one of the closing Macy's and purchase mannequins for $5, so that he can fill the seats with them and not look completely humiliated.
I feel bad for the people of Oakland. They finally have a great team, and now they're moving. It sucks. I don't get it. There's a short-term financial benefit of moving to Las Vegas, but it's going to be horrible for the long haul. Ticket sales and TV viewership in Las Vegas are going to be miserable following the first year. Every single owner should've understood this, but they didn't. Perhaps Ross, owning a team in a tourist city like Miami, was aware of what would occur if the Raiders would move to Las Vegas. He knows it's not going to end well, and he's right.
Panthers QB Cam Newton, DE Charles Johnson undergoing surgeries: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Today is not a good day to be a Panther fan. Both Cam Newton and Charles Johnson will be undergoing surgeries. Newton will repair a partially torn rotator cuff, while Johnson will have back surgery. Johnson will miss the entire offseason program, while Newton's availability for the start of training camp is highly questionable.
Beginning with Newton, it's very strange that he didn't have the surgery back in January. The Panthers have stated that they wanted Newton to have some rest before surgery and subsequent rehabilitation, but giving him more than two months off just seems ridiculous. Hell, one month of rest is almost certainly enough.
Now, this could all blow over, and Newton could be 100 percent by Week 1. That's definitely a possibility. However, another scenario is Newton being rusty from not getting enough reps in with his receivers in training camp and the preseason. That could trickle into the beginning of the season, prompting the Panthers to start slowly again.
As for Johnson, the Panthers had to have known about his back issues because they just signed him to a contract two weeks ago. No back procedure is minor, but I imagine Carolina believes Johnson will be fine. There are no guarantees, however.
I think this is a 6/10 Disaster Rating. It's very ominous for the Panthers' 2017 playoff chances, but as stated above, all of this may not mean anything come September.
Broncos DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware announced retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
It may seem odd to issue a Disaster Grade for the Broncos in the wake of DeMarcus Ware's retirement because he happened to be a free agent. However, there was some speculation that he could return to Denver, so that's why I'm doing this particular write-up.
Had Ware gone back to Denver, he would've just been a backup. Shane Ray, a 2015 first-round pick, was expected to transition into the starting lineup across from Von Miller. Ray showed great potential last year, logging eight sacks despite playing about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Ray was hot at the end of the year, notching four sacks in his final six games.
That said, Ware's loss will still be felt. All the Broncos have behind Miller and Ray is Shaq Barrett. Ware would've been a great third edge rusher, so unless something happens during the draft, the Broncos could have trouble generating a great pass rush if either Miller or Ray goes down.
I'm issuing a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Miller's loss could potentially hurt quite a bit, but that would involve Denver losing one of its players to injury and also whiffing completely in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Washington CB Sidney Jones tears Achilles: 9/10 Disaster Rating
You really have to feel bad for Sidney Jones. The talented cornerback, projected widely to be a top-20 pick, tore his Achilles during his pro day. The injury will cost him millions of dollars, and it will prevent him from seeing the field until 2018.
While Marshon Lattimore is considered the overall No. 1 cornerback, there are some teams that thought Sidney Jones was the best player at his position in this class. He's very talented, and there was an outside shot of him sneaking into the top 10 (I had him No. 13 to Arizona in my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) That's all over now, and the first round is no longer a possibility. Jones will now be hoping to be selected in the second frame like Jaylon Smith was last year. However, the Cowboys genuinely thought Smith would be able to play this past season. Because Jones won't be available until 2018, he could fall into the third round.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade for Jones. The only thing keeping it from being a 10/10 is that it wasn't a torn patellar tendon. Achilles ruptures are difficult to come back from, and Jones may not be in 100-percent form until 2019, but at least his career isn't over.
Cowboys OT Doug Free announces retirement: 4/10 Disaster Rating
Doug Free was once considered one of the top right tackles in the NFL. That hasn't been the case lately, as Free's talent level has dropped, which is understandable, given that he just turned 33. Free apparently noticed this, as he announced his retirement Saturday afternoon.
Despite Free declining, this retirement still hurts the Cowboys. They allowed Ronald Leary to leave via free agency. Had they known of Free's plans, they could've re-signed Leary and moved La'el Collins to right tackle. Now, the plan is to keep Collins at guard and use Chaz Green in Free's spot. The problem with that is Green is far worse than Free. He was horrible last year, and Dallas' offensive line isn't going to be as good without Free.
I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade. It's bad, but it's not horrible, as the Cowboys might be able to find a decent right tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon suspended for 4 games (PED violation): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Kenneth Dixon showed a ton of promise last year, so it's disappointing to see him get a four-game ban like this. Missing four games won't be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things for Dixon, but if he's caught again, he'll be suspended for much longer.
That said, this is probably a bigger deal for Dixon than the Ravens, which is why I've given Baltimore a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Dixon is good for sure, but there so many talented Running Back Prospects in this year's class. I expected Baltimore to take a running back regardless.
Jets cut C Nick Mangold: 4/10 Disaster Rating
I normally don't do grades for cuts, but e-mailer Chris F. requested this, and I realized that I probably should issue a Disaster Rating. Nick Mangold has been with the Jets since 2006, so it's worth discussing.
Mangold wasn't cut for performance, as he still played well when healthy. He dealt with injuries the past couple of seasons, but he was still a good player while available. The cap was the big issue, as he was owed more than $9 million. Releasing him was necessary because of financial implications, and it's a shame that the previous Jets regime caused this to happen.
I don't think cutting Mangold is a huge deal because the Jets are in rebuilding mode, and by the time they're ready to compete again, he'll likely be in decline. However, there's a chance they hit all their draft picks and get back into playoff contention by 2018, and not having Mangold will hurt. Thus, I think something in the middle like a 4/10 Disaster Grade is appropriate.
Redskins C Kory Lichtensteiger announced retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Kory Lichtensteiger has made 75 starts for the Redskins, but he has decided to end his career. He has spent the previous seven years with the team.
Lichtensteiger is apparently a big name - both literally and figuratively, given that he's trending on Twitter - but this is not a major loss for Washington. In fact, it warrants no sort of Disaster Grade. Lichtensteiger was supplanted by Spencer Long this past season, and Long was better than Lichtensteiger happened to be. Lichtensteiger was an OK center, but he was usually inconsistent. Sure, he'll be missed as a backup, but the Redskins can easily find an equal No. 2 center. Besides, Lichtensteiger was turning 32 soon, so he was bound to decline in the near future.
Colts P Pat McAfee announced retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Pat McAfee is, or rather, was one of the top players at his position in the NFL, and he's just 30 (in May). Thus, his retirement comes as a surprise. I was going to give this a 10/10 Disaster Grade until I remembered that McAfee is a punter, and his absence won't matter whatsoever.
McAfee has cited knee concerns for his retirement, and he's going to move on to write for a Web site. I'm sure some Colt fans are upset by this - his retirement; not the writing ventures - but they should be reminded that punters effectively grow on trees, and Indianapolis will be able to replace him very easily.
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater reportedly out for 2017 season (knee): 10/10 Disaster Rating
When Teddy Bridgewater shredded his knee last summer, there was some speculation that he would miss multiple seasons and would never be the same again. It seems as though that will be the case, as it's been reported that Bridgewater is expected to be out all of 2017.
This is obviously horrible news. Bridgewater was seen as a promising young quarterback heading into his third year, but his career has been completely derailed by this gruesome knee injury. The Vikings desperately need Bridgewater; he's a much better signal-caller than Sam Bradford, as he had a penchant for converting third downs, while his mobility helped mitigate Minnesota's horrible offensive line. Bradford did set the NFL's single-season completion percentage mark in 2016. This, however, is one of the most fraudulent records in the history of sports, as Bradford checked the ball down on most of his throws, including third-and-long situations that Bridgewater typically converted.
The Vikings now have to wait until 2018 to potentially get Bridgewater back, but even when he returns, he may not be the same. Thus, I have no choice but to give Minnesota a 10/10 Disaster Grade.
Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn out for playoffs (torn biceps): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Not having Adrian Clayborn for the NFC Championship and possible Super Bowl appearance won't be a big deal for the Falcons, as they managed to blow out the Seahawks without him. Clayborn barely played Saturday, and I'd say Atlanta fared pretty well. It's not that Clayborn isn't a good player; it's just that the drop-off from Clayborn to Dwight Freeney isn't substantial at all. Freeney will have to keep playing more snaps, but that's not a problem.
This injury isn't very detrimental. I think a 2/10 rating is right, and it's only above one because of depth issues. If Freeney gets hurt, there will be a big problem, but the Falcons are fine as it stands right now.
Chargers Change Logo to Abomination: 5/10 Disaster Rating
I graded the Chargers' foolish decision to move to Los Angeles yesterday (scroll down below), and I was going to list some places where it would've been better to move - Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, the Moon - to name a few, but then this happened. The Chargers revealed a new logo. If you haven't seen this atrocity, here it is:
That's horrible. It's like the owner told some 18-year-old intern to make a new logo for him, and the kid went into Photoshop, chose a font, typed "LA" and then added a squiggly line at the end to make it look like a lightning bolt of some sort.
And then, someone pointed out that this was basically a combination of the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning logos:
Wow. Not only did the Chargers create a lazy logo, but they stole two designs. That's pathetic, but it matches the utter incompetence of ownership to move to a city that doesn't care about professional football.
Because the Chargers could get sued by the Dodgers and Lightning for copyright infringement, and also sued by Photoshop for horrible usage of their product, I thought about giving this a 10/10. But then, I realized that no one cares because the Chargers no longer have any fans. Thus, I sliced the rating in half. Just like that. It didn't require much thinking, but neither did this awful logo.
Chargers Move to Los Angeles: 10/10 Disaster Rating
Why are there two teams in Los Angeles? Hell, why is there one team in that city? We've had countless years of proof that Los Angeles does not support professional football, and that was once again proven to be the case this past year. Now, the Chargers will have to fight the Rams for attendance, a situation that can't possibly end well.
If the Chargers thought their home games in San Diego were bad, they haven't seen anything yet. Their matchups versus Oakland, for example, will be Raider home games. Other contests will have 30,000 people in the stands if they are lucky. This is going to look horrible for the Chargers and even worse for the NFL. It's such a short-sighted move, though it's typical for it to occur in this Roger Goodell era.
Broncos HC Gary Kubiak retires: 4/10 Disaster Rating
I couldn't exactly post this on my Coach Firing page. How do you grade someone's retirement, after all? What I can do is discuss how it impacts the Broncos organization.
It sucks for Gary Kubiak that he couldn't continue his career because of health concerns, but those obviously need to come first. It also sucks for the Broncos, as they have to find a new head coach, unexpectedly.
Kubiak will be missed, as he was a very good head coach. However, he's not irreplaceable like Bill Belichick, or like Jim Harbaugh was for the 49ers several years ago. There are good candidates out there, and I'm sure John Elway will find a capable replacement. The challenge, however - and this is why I posted a 4/10 Disaster Grade - will be finding someone who can keep the terrific staff intact. What if Elway brings someone in who unexpectedly clashes with the other coaches? That would certainly ruin what the Broncos have going for them right now.