NFL Disaster Ratings: Retirement and Injury






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.

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May 2 Updates

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins suspended for six games (PEDs): 3/10 Disaster Rating
We're going to have to wait a while to see Arizona's explosive offense. It was exciting to think about the possibilities of Kyler Murray paired with DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown, but Hopkins won't be available until late October because of a six-game PED suspension.

Losing Hopkins for about a third of the season would ordinarily be a crushing blow to a team in a difficult division. However, the Cardinals still have plenty of weapons. Brown, A.J. Green, Zach Ertz, Trey McBride and Rondale Moore will all be able to help Murray survive without his No. 1 receiver. Granted, we don't know which opponents the Cardinals will battle in their first six games, but a losing record amid Hopkins' suspension seems unlikely.

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March 7 Updates

Falcons WR Calvin Ridley suspended for 2022 season: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the entire 2022 season because he bet on NFL games. Ridley claimed that he wagered $1,500 in a tweet, all while declaring that he didn't have a gambling problem.

My opinion on whether this suspension is fair coincides with whether or not Ridley bet against his own team. If he did, this suspension is justified. If not, he shouldn't have been banned for so long. NFL players have gotten far less for domestic abuse. Congressmen, meanwhile, take advantage of insider trading all the time, yet neither the Nancy Pelosis nor the Dan Crenshaws are never punished for it. The NFL has created an environement that is so pro-gambling that every single former quarterback has become a shill for a sportsbook. It's only natural that Ridley would place some bets.

As far as the harm this does for the Falcons, it's very minimal. Atlanta has almost no chance of making the playoffs this upcoming year, and Ridley's absence will help them earn a top-three pick for the 2023 NFL Draft. This is important, given the quarterback talent in that class. For more, check out my 2023 NFL Mock Draft.

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Feb. 1 Updates

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady announces retirement: 10/10 Disaster Rating
It's odd that Tom Brady is announcing his retirement at this time. Despite being 44, Brady was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this past season, as he and Aaron Rodgers appear to be the two favorites to win MVP. Brady may still be playing if his defense didn't surrender a deep pass to Cooper Kupp in the final seconds of the divisional-round loss to the Rams. Unless Brady lost his passion for football, which didn't seem to be the case based on his play in 2021, it's almost as if he were compelled to retire.

Regardless, Brady's exit is a calamity for the Buccaneers, who have just $7.6 million in cap space. They don't have enough money at the moment to lure in a Russell Wilson or Rodgers. They would have to cut a substantial number of players to afford one of those signal-callers, and that doesn't even include losing key free agents like Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Carlton Davis and Ryan Jensen (plus Antonio Brown, who was missed after being exiled.) The Buccaneers may have to settle for someone like Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater or Ryan Fitzpatrick if current rookie Kyle Trask isn't ready to start in 2022.

Edit: Never mind!

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Jan. 26 Updates

Eagles G Brandon Brooks announces retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Brandon Brooks has been one of the most talented guards in the NFL, but he's been extremely unreliable, especially in recent years. Brooks often missed time due to personal issues, but never more than a couple of games per season. That changed beginning in 2020. In fact, he only played a couple of games in 2020 and 2021.

Having Brooks back next year would've been a huge bonus for the Eagles, but they couldn't count on the soon-to-be 33-year-old to remain healthy. Still, Brooks' retirement, coupled with Jason Kelce's potential departure, could strain the interior of the offensive line. That would ordinarily be devastating to a team, but I wonder if this would be a blessing in disguise for the Eagles, who need a complete rebuild. Philadelphia's roster is mostly lackluster, and Jalen Hurts is not the answer. It would actually be in the Eagles' best interest to tank in 2022 so that they can land one of Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud the following April (see my 2023 NFL Mock Draft for more.) That's why I've given this a low Disaster Grade.

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Jan. 25 Updates

Saints HC Sean Payton announces retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Sean Payton took over as the Saints' head coach in 2006 and had an incredible run that featured seven NFC South titles and a Super Bowl victory over the Colts. However, all good things must come to an end, and that time is now for the Payton era; the 58-year-old coach has decided to step away from the NFL.

Losing a great coach like Payton would ordinarily be devastating, but the Saints must begin rebuilding. They currently have negative $74 million in cap "space," so they're going to have to jettison many of their talented players this offseason just to be able to sign their rookies. It would actually be in their best interest to blow up the entire roster, so they can tank in 2022 so that they can land one of the two stud quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft, Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud (go here for my 2023 NFL Mock Draft.)

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Dec. 21 Updates

Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
It's so odd that Chris Godwin ended up tearing his ACL when he was questionable for the longest time to return to action against the Saints. Unfortunately, Godwin was diagnosed with a torn ACL, meaning he'll miss the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.

This is a huge blow to Tampa's offense because Godwin has been Tom Brady's preferred weapon this season. However, the Buccaneers still can win the Super Bowl, so I won't go above a 6/10 Disaster Grade. Brady still has so many talented players at his disposal, namely Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, who is returning from his unjust suspension this week.

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Dec. 6 Updates

Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey out for season (torn pectoral): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens discovered what their secondary might look like without Marlon Humphrey in the fourth quarter against the Steelers, as a usually decrepit Ben Roethlisberger ripped through Baltimore's defense with ease during multiple scoring drives. Humphrey played for most of the action, but the Ravens lost other cornerbacks during the game. Now, they won't even have Humphrey, who was their top cover man by far.

This injury kills Baltimore's chances of making a Super Bowl run. The Ravens could've survived without Humphrey if Marcus Peters were still healthy, but he's been out for the season. Without their two top cornerbacks, the Ravens will have to start the oft-injured Jimmy Smith and the pedestrian Anthony Averett on the outside, which is a huge disaster.

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Nov. 29 Updates

Browns OT Jack Conklin out for season (torn patella tendon): 9/10 Disaster Rating
More people know Christian McCaffrey than Jack Conklin, but this is the more devastating season-ending injury that was reported today. Whereas McCaffrey will be fresh for the start of the 2022 season, Conklin will be fighting an uphill battle just to be active next year.

A torn patella tendon is the worst regular injury an NFL player can suffer. There's a long list of players who have torn patella tendons and have never made it back to their former selves. It's happened before, but the percentages are against Conklin.

This is devastating for the Browns as far as the present and future are concerned. Baker Mayfield is a completely different quarterback when protected well, and Conklin is one of the premier right tackles in the NFL. Mayfield will not be the same without him unless the Browns find a viable replacement for Conklin, which will be very difficult to do.

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Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey out for season (ankle): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Carolina's 3-0 start seems like so long ago. The team struggled when Christian McCaffrey got hurt the first time, but there was hope for them when he returned to the lineup. That's no longer the case, as McCaffrey will miss the rest of the year.

The Panthers can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye, but there is a silver lining with this injury, and that would be that McCaffrey can rest and return completely fresh for 2022, which could be when the Panthers finally have a viable quarterback. That said, it's difficult not to be worried about McCaffrey, as he has played just 10 games in the past two seasons. There's a good chance there will be more of this in the future, which is yet another reminder for teams that it's never a good idea to pay big money to running backs.

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Nov. 27 Updates

Bills CB Tre'Davious White out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Tre'Davious White is one of the top shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL, so this is a huge loss for the Bills. Buffalo will have to get past No. 1 receivers like Tyreek Hill, Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown and Mike Williams in the playoffs without the services of White, which will hurt.

However, this will not preclude the Bills from winning the Super Bowl. They can still do it if Josh Allen plays up to his potential. The defense, meanwhile, still owns the No. 1 pressure rate in the NFL, so it's not like Buffalo's stop unit will fall apart.

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Nov. 7 Updates

Raiders WR Henry Ruggs waived (DUI arrest): 3/10 Disaster Rating
As far as real life is concerned, this is a 10/10 Disaster Grade for all parties. Because of Henry Ruggs' selfish and idiotic alleged actions, a 23-year-old woman was killed. Ruggs, meanwhile, is facing years in prison for DUI resulting in death and reckless driving. Unless Ruggs is found not guilty and avoids numerous years in prison, his NFL career is finished.

From a football perspective, this isn't a huge deal. Ruggs had tremendous potential as the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but hadn't lived up to it. He caught only 26 passes as a rookie, and he recorded just one 100-yard game in 2021. He was more of a decoy than anything, but there are others who can serve his role. Someone like Bryan Edwards certainly won't have the same upside, but his production could equal Ruggs'.

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Nov. 1 Updates

Titans RB Derrick Henry out 6-10 weeks (foot surgery): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Titans can almost breathe a sigh of relief. It was reported early Monday that the Titans may have lost Derrick Henry for the season. Instead, he'll be out "only" 6-10 weeks.

This is great news. Henry will be back for the playoffs, and he may even return before that. The Titans have all but locked up their division - they're three games ahead of the Colts, including the series sweep - so they probably would have been better off resting Henry anyway. Henry can return with fresh legs for the postseason.

There is some worry that this injury could last longer than expected, but the Titans have seemed to dodge a bullet.

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Falcons WR Calvin Ridley leaves football (personal): 9/10 Disaster Rating
The Falcons desperately need to rebuild. Their offensive line must be retooled, while their defense needs an injection of talent at every level. Most of all, the organization has to find a new franchise quarterback. The Falcons at least knew they had two dynamic, young offensive play-makers in place, but that's no longer the case.

Calvin Ridley will no longer be with the Falcons, opting to step away from football indefinitely for personal reasons. It's unclear what's ailing Ridley, or how long he'll need to recover. It's possible that he could be back later this year or for the start of the 2022 campaign. It's also possible that he could never return to action, much like Barry Sanders or Telvin Smith.

This is obviously very troubling for the Falcons. Instead of having three offensive building blocks in Ridley, Kyle Pitts and Chris Lindstrom, they now possess only two. Atlanta will have one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL as long as Ridley remains away from the team.

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Oct. 29 Updates

Cardinals DL J.J. Watt out for season (shoulder surgery): 9/10 Disaster Rating
Things escalated quickly for J.J. Watt, who played through an injury in the second half of the victory over Houston. Watt was innocently ruled out for the Thursday night affair, and now it's been reported that Watt will need season-ending shoulder surgery.

If there was any doubt how impactful Watt's absence would be, we had a first-hand look on Thursday night. The Cardinals, previously stout against the run, had no answer for Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. The stop unit couldn't get off the field versus an undermanned Green Bay offense.

With Watt gone, there's more of this to come. As someone who bet the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl, this saddens me. Arizona should still make the playoffs, but a Super Bowl appearance now seems so much more unlikely.

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Oct. 8 Updates

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson out 4-8 weeks (torn tendon in finger): 10/10 Disaster Rating
Russell Wilson got a much worse deal than Matthew Stafford in the Finger Bang Bowl. Whereas Stafford seems OK after a while, Wilson never returned to action. An MRI revealed a torn tendon in his middle finger, which will require surgery. He'll be out 4-8 weeks.

It's possible that Wilson will be able to return after the team's Week 9 bye, but it's unclear if his finger will be fully healed by then. The Seahawks will have to turn to Geno Smith in the meantime, as they'll have a new quarterback on the field for the first time since 2011. Smith played well in relief of Wilson, but that's not likely to last once teams game plan for him.

This is an utter calamity for Seattle. Assuming they can't pull any upsets with Smith at the helm, the Seahawks will likely be out of playoff contention once Wilson returns. Wilson reportedly will demand a trade this offseason, so he'll likely push harder for one after a playoff-less 2021 campaign. Furthermore, the Seahawks don't even have a first-round pick because of the Jamal Adams trade debacle, so it's not like they can even benefit in the long term from losing.

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Sept. 24 Updates

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey out for a few weeks (hamstring), CB Jaycee Horn out 2-3 months (broken foot): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Roger Goodell claims to care about player safety, but those are just hollow words because he continues to force players to engage in a very physically taxing sport on just three days of rest. The result of this is the sort of massacre we saw in Houston, as multiple Panther players left the game with injuries.

Christian McCaffrey will be sidelined for a few weeks because of a hamstring, while Horn will be out two to three months with multiple broken bones in his foot. Thankfully for the Panthers, these injuries weren't inverted. They have other talented cornerbacks (Donte Jackson, A.J. Bouye), so they can survive without Horn for a while. McCaffrey obviously cannot be replaced, but a three-game absence isn't the end of the world. Besides, the Panthers have some easy games on the horizon. They battle the Cowboys on extended rest, then take on the Eagles, Vikings, Giants and Falcons. McCaffrey should be back by the final contest.

Then again, those games seem easy. The absences of McCaffrey and Horn could turn those sure victories into losses, which will hurt once the Panthers begin the difficult portion of their schedule, starting in November.

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Sept. 16 Updates

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence out for 6-8 weeks (broken foot): 6/10 Disaster Rating
The Cowboys have been dealing with issues on their offensive line, but now their defensive front is in shambles. After Randy Gregory was ruled out for Week 2, DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot in practice, which will require him to miss up to two months.

Lawrence's absence for a big chunk of the season will be enormous. He's the best player on the Cowboys' front by a wide margin. Dallas won't be able to generate any sort of pass rush with Lawrence gone, which will severely hurt their chances of winning a division in which the previous favorite, the Redskins, apparently do not have the playoff-caliber defense they were expected to possess. That said, Lawrence should be back in December, which will allow the Cowboys to make a run if another team isn't running away with the divisional crown.

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Sept. 13 Updates

49ers CB Jason Verrett out for season (torn ACL), RB Raheem Mostert out for season (knee): 7/10, 1/10 Disaster Rating
Raheem Mostert and Jason Verrett both left the Detroit game early with injuries. While many more people know Mostert than Verrett, the injury to the latter is far more significant.

Mostert is an excellent running back, but the 49ers have several other talented backs on the roster to take his spot. Trey Sermon showed some promise in the preseason, while Elijah Mitchell was excellent versus Detroit.

The injury to Verrett, on the other hand, is utterly devastating. Verrett was a legitimate shutdown cornerback last year, and the 49ers were counting on him with Richard Sherman gone. With Emmanuel Moseley also banged up, the 49ers suddenly have some dire problems at corner. Making matters worse, Verrett has suffered so many injuries throughout his cursed career that it could be exceedingly difficult to return from this one. This injury, which made the 49ers vulnerable to Jared Goff in the fourth quarter this past Sunday, is likely to doom their season.

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Redskins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick out several weeks (hip): 3/10 Disaster Rating
I thought all hope was lost for the Redskins when Ryan Fitzpatrick got hurt against the Chargers, but Taylor Heinicke did a nice job as a replacement. Little did I know that Antonio Gibson would fumble the game away, but that's another story.

Fitzpatrick was supposed to provide some stability at quarterback this season, but he struggled versus San Angeles in the opener. Heinicke was markedly better. I don't know if this will continue, but it's worth noting that Heinicke performed above expectations against the Buccaneers. I'm excited to see what he can do, and he has some easy opponents on the horizon (Giants in Week 2, Falcons in 4).

Perhaps I'm wrong, and Heinicke will be a total disaster, but I'm willing to bet that the Redskins will be just fine with him at the helm. And who knows, perhaps Fitzpatrick won't even have his job when he returns.

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Saints CB Marshon Lattimore out a couple of weeks (thumb surgery): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Marshon Lattimore popped up on the injury report late in the week, but ended up playing against Davante Adams. Lattimore probably wasn't even needed, given how efficient New Orleans' offense was. Still, it's significant that Lattimore will miss time with thumb surgery. He has no concrete timetable for a return, but he's noted as being out a "couple of weeks."

Lattimore is a great cornerback, but the Saints will survive without him. They traded for Bradley Roby, but the primary reason is their upcoming schedule of quarterbacks. These are the signal-callers they're set to battle in the next few games: Sam Darnold, Mac Jones, Daniel Jones and Taylor Heinicke. The only concern here is if Lattimore suffers a setback and has to miss action after that, but the Saints likely won't miss him very much as long as he's out just a "couple of weeks."

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Lions CB Jeff Okudah out for season (torn Achilles): 6/10 Disaster Rating
This is a tough grade because this is both good and bad for the Lions. Detroit will stand to benefit from any injury, given that it has no playoff aspirations and thus needs as high of a draft pick as possible. I often grade injuries like this as 0/10. I would designate the Mekhi Becton and Lamarcus Joyner injuries similarly for the Jets, which is why they don't have their own write-up. Perhaps it can be argued that Becton should be a one or two because his absence could hurt Zach Wilson's development, but what Wilson really needs most is Kayvon Thibodeaux or Derek Stingley on the other side of the ball to give him more possessions.

For the Lions, this is tricky because it puts Okudah's long-term status in doubt. Okudah had a poor rookie season and was in the process of getting torched by Deebo Samuel upon getting hurt. He needs to develop, and that won't happen while he's healing from his injury. He also may never fully recover, so I'm grading this rather highly, considering that the Lions need to lose as many games as possible this year.

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Sept. 10 Updates

Cowboys OT La'el Collins suspended five games (drug tests): 3/10 Disaster Rating
So much for that great Dallas offensive line! One day after the Cowboys dominated the Buccaneers in the trenches, despite Zack Martin's absence, the team got some bad news. Stud right tackle La'el Collins was suspended for five games because of violated drug tests.

This is obviously bad news for a Dallas team that began the year with a loss, but it's not the end of the world. The Cowboys' next five opponents are the Chargers (road), Eagles (home), Panthers (home), Giants (home) and Patriots (road). In that span, they'll battle three bad teams as hosts, and only one of those squads, the Panthers, has a dynamic edge rush. Assuming there are no further injuries to the offensive line, and Martin returns from his very minor illness, the Cowboys should be able to beat the Eagles, Panthers and Giants, giving them a 3-3 record heading into their Week 7 bye. That's not ideal, but it's good enough to compete for the divisional title in the NFC East.

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Ravens CB Marcus Peters out for season (torn ACL): 4/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens lost two running backs to torn ACLs, but this injury to a sole cornerback is much more dire.

Running back is a replaceable position, and Baltimore has a skilled third player in Ty'Son Williams. Finding a new cornerback isn't nearly as easy. Marcus Peters is a talented starting cornerback and an important member of this defense. He'll sorely be missed.

That said, if there's a silver lining, it's that the Ravens have quality backups at the position. Jimmy Smith and Anthony Averett are both capable of starting across from Marlon Humphrey. Depth will take a hit, but the Ravens should still be fine as long as another cornerback doesn't get hurt.

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Sept. 9 Updates

Ravens RB Gus Edwards out for season (torn ACL): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens' running back position is looking like the Defense Against the Dark Arts gig, with one person going down after another. It's such a shame for Gus Edwards, who had a great chance to handle a big chunk of the workload in the wake of J.K. Dobbins' injury. That won't be the case anymore because like Dobbins, Edwards tore his ACL.

This is a bigger deal for the Ravens than the Dobbins loss because this is their second season-ending injury at the position. Still, it's not totally devastating because the Ravens still have Ty'Son Williams, who is extremely talented. Le'Veon Bell is also on the roster, though I don't have much faith in him.

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Aug. 29 Updates

Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins out for season (torn ACL): 1/10 Disaster Rating
It's unclear why the Ravens had their starting running back on the field in a meaningless preseason game. I'm sure they regret it now because J.K. Dobbins went down on the opening drive after catching a pass. He had to be helped off the field and then was carted into the locker room. The injury has been diagnosed as a torn ACL, which means Dobbins is out for the season.

While this is a devastating injury for Dobbins' career, it shouldn't affect the Ravens' 2021 outlook much at all. Running back is one of the least-important positions in this era of football, and the Ravens have a viable backup in Gus Edwards anyway. Edwards is not a steep downgrade from Dobbins. Also, Baltimore has a talented backup behind Edwards in Ty'Son Williams, who has been extremely impressive this preseason.

Furthermore, this injury being so early in the season helps Dobbins' chances of being ready for Week 1 in 2022. That's definitely not a guarantee - Saquon Barkley isn't 100 percent for the 2021 opener after tearing his ACL in Week 2 last year - but Dobbins at least has a shot of being recovered by then.

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Aug. 19 Updates

Jets DE/OLB Carl Lawson out for season (torn Achilles): 3/10 Disaster Rating
It's been a long time since the Jets have had a dynamic edge rusher. That appeared to change this offseason when they signed Carl Lawson to a mega contract. The Jets will now have to wait one more year, however, because Lawson is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Lawson is a spectacular player, so an injury like this would normally be a catastrophe for most franchises. However, the Jets are still a low-echelon team in the NFL. They had no chance of reaching the playoffs this year, so losing more games this season will be a good thing for the long haul, as it'll improve their 2022 draft positioning.

The silver lining here is that Lawson suffered this injury so early that he could be 100 percent by the start of 2022. However, that's far from a guarantee with something as nasty as a torn Achilles.

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Aug. 3 Updates

Colts G Quenton Nelson out 5-12 weeks (foot injury): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Quenton Nelson suffered the same injury as Carson Wentz, somehow, so he will miss about the same period of time as his quarterback. There's a chance he could return at some point in September, but he could be out as late as early November.

This is obviously another disastrous situation for the Colts. Their backup quarterback could have survived in easy matchups because of the stellar blocking, but that's now no longer the case. Nelson is one of the top guards in the NFL, and he'll sorely be missed.

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Aug. 2 Updates

Colts QB Carson Wentz out 5-12 weeks (foot surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Is it time for Nick Foles to take Carson Wentz's job again? Perhaps there will be a trade of some sort with the Bears, as Indianapolis will have to scramble to find a viable replacement for Wentz, who could be out for three months.

It's obviously disastrous for the Colts to be missing Wentz for an extended period of time, as it could obviously cost them the divisional crown. However, there are two reasons to be somewhat optimistic. First, the Colts have an excellent roster, so if the Titans trip up early in the season, Wentz could return just in time to help Indianapolis win the AFC South. Second, Wentz's absence means the Colts won't have to surrender a first-round pick to the Eagles in what appears to be a stacked 2022 NFL Draft.

Here are the top NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings.

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Rams RB Cam Akers out for season (torn Achilles): 4/10 Disaster Rating
We enjoyed an unusually injury-free NFL summer, but that came to an end. We just had our first major offseason casualty, with Cam Akers tearing his Achilles while training. He'll obviously miss the entire 2021 season.

This will hurt the Rams, but it's not a devastating blow by any means. Akers is a good player, but running back is one of the most replaceable positions in football. If the Rams want, they can sign Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson or Todd Gurley (check out the Top NFL Free Agent Running Backs.) They could also just opt to utilize their other backs, namely Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones and Jake Funk. I don't think this injury will preclude the Rams from winning the Super Bowl.

If there's a silver lining concerning Akers himself, it's that this injury occurred before training camp, so he'll have plenty of time to recover for the 2022 season.

Here are the top NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings.

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