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.
Browns DE Olivier Vernon out for season (torn Achilles): 6/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel for Olivier Vernon, who was an impending free agent. He enjoyed a terrific season in which he logged nine sacks and stuffed the run well. He was going to be paid well as a result, but now he'll have to settle for short-term "prove it" contracts until he proves he's healthy.
Losing Vernon is a big deal. The Browns have some liabilities in their pass defense that they needed to mask with outstanding pressure. They had that with their excellent defensive line, but that unit has taken a big hit in the wake of Vernon's torn Achilles.
Packers OT David Bakhtiari out for season (torn ACL): 9/10 Disaster Rating
NFL teams can win a Super Bowl without their left tackle. The Eagles, for example, won the championship despite Jason Peters being sidelined during the playoff run. The problem is when teams have multiple offensive line injuries, and that happens to be the case with the Packers. Guard Lane Taylor continues to be out, while right tackle Ricky Wagner was carted into the locker room during the Tennessee game.
Even if Turner returns for the second round of the playoffs, the Packers will still be down two blockers, which will make it far more difficult for Aaron Rodgers to go the distance. It could still happen, but the difference between Green Bay and the previously inferior teams won't be very vast.
Furthermore, because this injury occurred late in the year, David Bakhtiari may not be ready for the 2021 opener. Thus, the Disaster Grade for this injury must be 9/10.
Steelers DE/OLB Bud Dupree out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Bud Dupree tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' victory over the Ravens on Wednesday afternoon. This injury wasn't addressed by the broadcasting team, but Dupree is indeed out for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
Dupree is a talented edge rusher who has logged eight sacks through 10 games this year. He'll certainly be missed during the team's playoff run. Even worse, because this injury occurred so late in the season, Dupree could be limited to start the 2021 campaign.
That said, the Steelers have a viable replacement for Dupree in Alex Highsmith. The third-round rookie has played well in limited snaps this year, so the potential is there for him to be a good substitute. Further injuries at the positions would really hurt, however.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow out for season (torn ACL, MCL, more): 8/10 Disaster Rating
I wouldn't have given this a Disaster Grade under normal circumstances. If Joe Burrow had a normal torn ACL, it may have been a blessing in disguise for the Bengals, who would be able to obtain Penei Sewell with the third-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft (go here for my 2021 NFL Mock Draft.)
However, Burrow tore more than his ACL. He also ripped apart his MCL, and there was also other structural damage. In a sense, this was similar to the injury Carson Wentz suffered late in 2017.
Wentz had to miss the first couple of games of the 2018 campaign, and he was never really the same upon his return, so the same fate could befall Burrow. That's terrible news for the Bengals, who were expected to compete for a playoff spot next year. There's a chance Burrow's recovery will be smoother, but this is certainly a dark time for the Bengals, who can do nothing but hope.
Saints QB Drew Brees out indefnitely (multiple rib fractures, collapsed lung): 9/10 Disaster Rating
It's not yet clear how long Drew Brees will be sidelined, but he'll be out for quite a while with multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung.
Brees will be back at some point during the regular season, in all likelihood, but the chances of him being 100 percent again in 2020 are close to zero. That's the crux of this Disaster Grade, as an ineffective Brees won't allow the Saints to win, or even get to the Super Bowl. We saw an ineffective Brees derail the Saints' chances in the opening round of the playoffs last year, and the same thing could occur this January.
With that in mind, this is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. The only reason it's not a 10/10 is because Brees will be 100 percent by the start of 2021, should he desire to keep playing.
Rams OT Andrew Whitworth placed on injured reserve (torn MCL, damaged PCL): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Rams are 6-3 because they've beaten up on the sorry NFC East. Still, they're in a three-way tie for the divisional lead, so they have to be taken somewhat seriously. Even with that in mind, this injury could derail their 2020 campaign.
Jared Goff needs everything to be perfect around him to succeed. When the offensive line is blocking very well, and Sean McVay can script open targets, Goff can play extremely well, as we saw in the Week 10 Seattle game. However, Goff was less effective after Whitworth was carted off the field just prior to halftime. This will be a sign of things to come.
With the Rams very unlikely to make a deep playoff push without Whitworth, this Disaster Grade must be high. The one silver lining is that Whitworth's entire knee wasn't destroyed, so perhaps he'll return at 100 percent in 2021.
Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley out for the season (broken ankle): 9/10 Disaster Rating
A major reason why Lamar Jackson was the MVP in 2019 was his offensive line. The blocking unit comprised two players who might be in the Hall of Fame one day: guard Marshal Yanda and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Jackson will now have to play the rest of the 2020 campaign without both players.
Yanda, of course, retired this past offseason, but Jackson at least had Stanley shielding his blind side. Unfortunately for Jackson and the Ravens, Stanley was lost for the year with a broken ankle. Stanley, arguably the best left tackle in the NFL, will sorely be missed.
Stanley is the most important player the Ravens could have lost besides Jackson, so this is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. The Ravens should still be able to make the playoffs, but Jackson's play will continue to regress against good opponents with worsened blocking.
Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. out for the season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Odell Beckham Jr. injured his knee trying to bring down the player who intercepted a pass intended for him on the opening drive of the Cincinnati game. He informed the media Monday that he was done for the year with a torn ACL.
It's a shame Beckham's season ended this way, but I don't think it's a huge deal for the Browns. Baker Mayfield just had his best game of the season with Beckham sidelined for most of the afternoon. Granted, Mayfield was going against the lowly Bengals, but he was also missing two starting offensive linemen, as well as Nick Chubb and Austin Hooper. Mayfield still has plenty of talent around him, so I don't think he'll miss Beckham too much.
I'm giving the Browns a 3/10 Disaster Grade for this. Things will get tricky if Cleveland loses another receiver, but the team's playoff aspirations haven't taken much of a hit.
Titans OT Taylor Lewan out for the season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Taylor Lewan is often one of the better left tackles in the NFL. That hasn't been the case this year, however, as he hasn't performed up to par, but there was always a chance he would have a strong second half of the season and playoff run. That is no longer a possibility, as he'll be sidelined for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.
While Lewan wasn't quite his old self in 2020, his backup in Week 6, Ty Sambrailo, was even worse, as he surrendered a strip-sack once he entered the game. Sambrailo is a massive downgrade.
That said, this injury may not be that devastating because the Titans spent their first-round pick on Isaiah Wilson. The Georgia product has been sidelined for various reasons, but it seems like he'll be ready to play soon. He obviously won't be as good as Lewan, but he almost has to be an upgrade over Sambarailo.
Steelers LB Devin Bush out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
The last time the Steelers lost their top inside linebacker, their once-promising 2017 season went up in flames in the wake of Ryan Shazier's devastating injury. Pittsburgh was never the same and quickly lost in embarrassing fashion against the Jaguars in the playoffs. The Steelers knew they had to replace Shazier, which is why they moved up 10 spots in the 2019 NFL Draft to obtain Devin Bush. That's how important they believe Bush is for them.
Bush, unfortunately, tore his ACL. He's done for the year, which will create a huge hole in the middle of the Steelers' defense. It'll obviously make the stop unit worse, but Pittsburgh can still survive without Bush, thanks to the other defensive talent, plus the improved passing game, thanks to some emerging, young receivers.
There's also a silver lining here, as Bush's injury isn't serious enough to ruin his career. In fact, this torn ACL occurred early enough in the season for him to be 100 percent by 2021.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott out for season (ankle): 10/10 Disaster Rating
I just re-watched the Cowboys-Giants game, and I saw Dak Prescott injure his ankle once again. It was still a gruesome sight even though I knew exactly what happened already.
Prescott had surgery on his ankle Sunday night, but he's not yet in the clear because there's a risk for infection. Hopefully that doesn't happen, and he has a quick recovery, but the reality is that he's out for the year and possibly longer than that.
This is the maximum Disaster Grade for obvious reasons. Dallas' season is over, as Andy Dalton can't succeed while being surrounded by a pedestrian supporting cast. Furthermore, if Prescott does suffer some infection, he could miss a chunk or all of 2021.
Cardinals DE/OLB Chandler Jones likely out for the season (torn biceps): 9/10 Disaster Rating
Amid the devastating Dak Prescott injury and the Dan Quinn firing, the news of Chandler Jones' potential season-ending injury has slipped through the cracks. Jones, however, seems to be done for the year after tearing his biceps. The Cardinals are still awaiting an MRI, but it sounds like Jones is done.
This is an utterly devastating injury for the Cardinals, a team that was on the cusp of reaching the playoffs. Arizona has lots going for it, but a stellar defense is not one of those things. The team had a dynamic edge rusher in Jones, but without him going forward, the defense will be far worse.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. Jones' absence will make it extremely difficult for the Cardinals to survive in the toughest division in the NFL. Also, Jones turns 31 this offseason. With recovery time on the horizon, it's possible that Jones might lose a step heading into 2021. That's not a guarantee to happen or anything, but it could occur.
Cowboys OT Tyron Smith out for season (neck): 8/10 Disaster Rating
It was bound to happen sooner or later. Tyron Smith's neck injury has been an issue since the infamous bulging disc incident. He's been a weekly fixture on the injury report as a result, so it's no surprise that he's been placed on season-ending injured reserve.
This is obviously a huge blow for Dallas. The Cowboys were already down right tackle La'el Collins for the year and center Joe Looney for a few weeks; not to mention Looney's predecessor, Travis Frederick, who retired in the offseason.
Now down three offensive linemen, the Cowboys are really going to struggle to score outside of garbage time. They've recently made a living by putting up tons of points late in games, but their offense has sputtered in the early stages of each contest. That will now be worse without Smith, whose absence will hurt the team's playoff chances. The Cowboys still had a great shot of reaching the playoffs because of how terrible the NFC East is, but the other three squads now have a better chance of claiming the NFL's worst division.
49ers DE Nick Bosa out for season (ACL): 9/10 Disaster Rating
It was feared throughout the day that Nick Bosa had a torn ACL and would miss the rest of the season. Adam Schefter confirmed it during halftime of the Monday night broadcast after his mask Karen announcement. Bosa won't play again until 2021.
It goes without saying that this is a devastating injury. Bosa was one of the primary reasons why the 49ers were able to advance to the Super Bowl and hold a lead entering the fourth quarter last year. He's a top edge rusher in the NFL, so San Francisco's defense will be far worse without him, especially considering that DeForest Buckner is also gone from last year's special unit.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. The only silver lining is that this injury occurred so early in the season that Bosa will almost certainly be 100 percent for 2021.
Vikings LB Anthony Barr out for season (torn pectoral): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Anthony Barr is overrated. He's a big name, but I don't think he's all that great. He's a solid player for sure, and he does some things well, but he has obvious holes in his game.
That, however, is not the reason why I'm giving this a 0/10 Disaster Grade. It's because the Vikings would be better off losing rather than winning. In my opinion, Minnesota must strongly consider tanking for Trevor Lawrence. Kirk Cousins is a loser, and he's way overpaid. Not only would Lawrence be much better; he'd also be cheaper. The Vikings could take advantage of his rookie contract and add great talent around him. They've had to take away talent from Cousins because of his albatross of a contract, so going to Lawrence would be a refreshing change of direction for the franchise.
Colts S Malik Hooker out for season (Achilles): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Chiefs and Ravens are the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but I thought the Colts were a team that could sneak in and pull some upsets in the playoffs, thanks to their stellar offensive line and improved defense. They suffered a stunning upset in Week 1, but bounced back extremely well against the Vikings this past Sunday. Unfortunately for them, they lost Malik Hooker in the process.
Hooker is done for the year with an Achilles injury. This is a brutal loss, as Hooker was one of the better safeties in the NFL. The secondary was the weak point for Indianapolis' otherwise underrated defense, but now it'll be even worse with Hooker gone.
This deserves a high Disaster Grade, as the Colts needed all hands on deck to beat Patrick Mahomes. Now, Mahomes will be able to exploit a big weakness in the Colts' secondary if these teams meet up in the playoffs.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley out for season (ACL); Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey out for a few weeks (ankle): 10/10 & 0/10 Disaster Ratings
On one hand, it makes no sense to grade these two injuries similarly. Both teams are in different positions, and both running backs will be missing different amounts of time. Conversely, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey were the top two players chosen in fantasy drafts, so it seems like a logical thing to do.
This is a 10/10 for the Giants. They had a chance to win a very weak division, but that's done now in the wake of Barkley's torn ACL. There's no way Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis can replicate what Barkley produced. Perhaps the Giants will sign Devonta Freeman - see the top NFL Free Agent Running Back Rankings - but he won't help much either.
The Panthers, on the other hand, will get a 0/10. In fact, this might deserve a negative grade because Christian McCaffrey's injury might help the team secure a top-two pick. Carolina had no chance of winning this year, so this injury is irrelevant for the 2020 outlook.
Broncos DE/OLB Von Miller out for season (ankle): 9/10 Disaster Rating
The Broncos had very high expectations heading into the 2020 season. With a promising quarterback with more experience, tons of offensive talent, and an exceptional defense, the Broncos seemed to poised to reach the playoffs and perhaps win some games in January.
That is no longer the case, as Von Miller suffered a devastating ankle injury in Tuesday's practice. He is out for the season.
This is obviously a huge blow to Denver's outlook. The Broncos needed all hands on deck to beat Patrick Mahomes, something they have not been able to do thus far. Without Miller to pressure Mahomes, Denver won't be able to defeat Kansas City. Even beating the Raiders will be tough, given how good Las Vegas' offensive line is.
This is either a 9/10 or 10/10 Disaster Grade because Denver's season is all but over. I suppose some younger pass rushers could step up, and Drew Lock's unexpected rapid progression will help offset the Miller loss, but this is absolutely crushing.
Chargers S Derwin James out 6-8 months (meniscus): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Derwin James missed most of 2019, but he was expected to have a rebound campaign in what should be a stellar Charger defense. San Angeles made numerous upgrades this spring, and James was going to be the centerpiece of a terrific secondary. Those plans are now on hold, as James will be out for a "significant time."
It goes without saying that this is very painful for the Chargers. James is one of the best safeties in the NFL, so he'll sorely be missed. This is close to being enough to derail the Chargers, though there is still some hope that James might be out just a month. He could miss more time than that, but at least there's some optimism.
Update: James will be out 6-8 months, meaning he'll be out for all of 2020. This is a crushing blow to the Chargers' slim playoff chances.
Eagles OT Andre Dillard out for season (torn biceps): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles already suffered a big loss to their offensive line when Brandon Brooks was knocked out for the year earlier in the summer. They re-signed Jason Peters to serve as a replacement for Brooks. Now, it appears as though Peters will have to reprise his role on the blind side in the wake of Andre Dillard's season-ending biceps tear.
The Eagles are fortunate they were able to sign Peters earlier, and that's why this Disaster Grade isn't very high. Still, the Dillard injury is very impactful, as the guard situation is in major question. Philadelphia already had one liability there with Isaac Seumalo. Now, the team will have to start either Matt Pryor or fourth-round rookie Jack Driscoll at the other guard spot.
With two weaknesses on the offensive line, it could be difficult for the Eagles to win the NFC East. However, one could argue that having Peters on the blind side instead of Dillard, who struggled in training camp, might be somewhat of a blessing in disguise.
Cowboys DT Gerald McCoy out for season (torn quad): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Cowboys lost Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins to free agency this offseason, so they were really counting on Gerald McCoy to serve as a pass-rushing presence in the interior of their defensive line. McCoy will no longer be able to do that, however, as he was lost for the season with a torn quad.
This is a big loss, as it further depletes Dallas' already-weak defensive front. That said, there was some question as to how effective McCoy would be this year. McCoy was once one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL, but he was not quite himself last year. At 32, McCoy may have declined even further.
Redskins RB Derrius Guice arrested for domestic violence, released: 5/10 Disaster Rating
When Derrius Guice dominated the preseason a few years ago, little did we know that we would barely get to see him play in regular-season action. Guice suffered a torrent of injuries in his first two seasons, and now he's officially done with the team after being released in the wake of a domestic violence-related arrest.
This obviously hurts the Redskins, as Guice is a terrific talent who had tons of upside. While the short term isn't very significant because the Redskins weren't going to be successful this year, it hurts for the long haul because the Redskins will need to find a talented replacement for Guice. Fortunately, running back is the easiest position to replace, so the Redskins might be able to fill their new need with a second-day draft choice in the near future.
Cardinals OT Marcus Gilbert opts out of 2020 season: 3/10 Disaster Rating
Marcus Gilbert has effectively ended his career by opting out of the 2020 NFL season. Given his history of injuries, it's going to be difficult for any team to trust him after he quit on the Cardinals.
This opt-out would be way more serious for Arizona had the team not signed Kelvin Beachum earlier in the offseason. Beachum was a great insurance policy, and now he'll be asked to start at right tackle. The Cardinals aren't out of the woods, however, as both Beachum and D.J. Humphries don't exactly have the best durability.
Broncos OT Ja'Wuan James opts out of 2020 season: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Ja'Wuan James has wasted so much of Denver's money. He signed a $51 million contract last offseason, but suited up for just three games in 2019. Now, he'll miss all of 2020 after opting out despite being one of the lighter tackles in the NFL.
This is a huge blow for the Broncos, who were gaining lots of traction as a playoff sleeper. My one non-quarterback concern for them entering the season was the offensive line, and now we'll know it'll definitely be an issue in the wake of James' decision. If the Broncos can't sign someone like Cordy Glenn to replace James, it could be a long year for Drew Lock.
Jets LB C.J. Mosley opts out of 2020 season: 0/10 Disaster Rating
The Jets paid C.J. Mosley $85 million last offseason, yet he's going to play just three good quarters for them in two years. That's all they got from him in 2019, as he milked an injury and sat out 14 games. His lethargy will now continue into 2020, as he'll sit out despite not having any medical concerns of his own.
Mosley is a very gifted player, but this can't earn any sort of Disaster Grade from the Jets. The team has made it clear that they have no intentions of winning this year in the wake of the Jamal Adams trade. They're building for the future, so the higher their draft pick, the better. Perhaps they'll land Ja'Marr Chase, which is what I have happening in my 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Chiefs RB Damien Williams opts out of 2020 season: 1/10 Disaster Rating
Some of the opt-outs we've seen thus far have made sense. Others haven't, and this is one of them. Damien Williams just derailed his career, as there was a chance he could've held off Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the starting running back job in Kansas City. It'll now be difficult for him to find a home when he returns to the field in 2021.
While Williams hurt himself immeasurably, the Chiefs won't feel too much of that pain. In fact, this may end up being completely irrelevant, thanks to the Edwards-Helaire draft choice. Depth at running back will be an issue for now, but Kansas City can correct that by signing one of the many viable veteran backs available on the market, with Devonta Freeman perhaps being the best option.
Giants OT Nate Solder opts out of 2020 season: 5/10 Disaster Rating
Nate Solder has become the latest lineman to opt out of the 2020 season. His decision is quite understandable. Not only does he have a history of cancer, but his son does as well.
That said, this is going to hurt the Giants substantially. Daniel Jones is a young quarterback who needs all the help he can get if he wants to make a big leap in his sophomore campaign. Solder will be missed in that regard, especially when Jones is battling Philadelphia's stellar defensive front.
I wouldn't give this a Disaster Grade in the 7/10 range like I have with some of the other opt-outs, however. The Giants spent their first-round pick on tackle Andrew Thomas, who will be able to take over on the blind side. Also, Solder is constantly injured, so it's not like New York was really counting on him to play 16 games anyway. Perhaps the Giants will be the team that will sign Cordy Glenn, who would serve as a viable starter at right tackle.
Packers WR Devin Funchess opts out of 2020 season: 1/10 Disaster Rating
Devin Funchess opting out of the 2020 NFL season is hardly a shock, as he is one of the laziest players in the league. He has shown no signs that he wants to improve his football career, so this decision could be the end of it. Teams will likely be reluctant to sign him in 2021 and beyond after he quit on yet another organization, though he may ultimately get another chance at some point.
This isn't a big deal at all for the Packers. Funchess is a terrible receiver who probably should've been moved to tight end. He can't separate at all, and his hands are terrible, so he wasn't going to contribute very much to Green Bay. It's not the most ideal news for the Packers, but their receiving corps sucked already anyway.
Vikings NT Michael Pierce opts out of 2020 season: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Michael Pierce signed a 3-year, $27 million contract this offseason. That now seems to be a waste, as the Vikings will be losing a year of Pierce's prime. Pierce has opted out of the 2020 season, which might make some sense because he weighs nearly 350 pounds.
This is a huge blow for the Vikings' chances of winning the division. The team lost Linval Joseph this offseason, but that was considered to be fine because it brought in Pierce to be an upgrade. With both Joseph and Pierce off the roster, the Vikings will be substantially worse against the run. Given that the Vikings were expected to be in a tight race with the Packers and perhaps the Lions (if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy) for the NFC North crown, Pierce's decision to quit football this year may cost them dearly.
Patriots OT Marcus Cannon, LB Dont'a Hightower and S Patrick Chung opt out of 2020 season: 7/10 Disaster Rating
NFL players are beginning to opt out of the 2020 season. The Patriots lost two major players, as Dont'a Hightower and Marcus Cannon won't be around this year. Cannon has a legitimate health concern, as he's a 335-pound cancer survivor. Hightower, conversely, is just being lazy.
These are huge losses for the Patriots. Beginning with Hightower, the 30-year-old is just the latest departure at the position for the Patriots, who also lost Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins this offseason. With Hightower gone, New England now has one of the worst linebacking corps in the NFL. As for Cannon, it's another blow to the offensive line, which lost legendary coach Dante Scarnecchia to retirement. Perhaps they'll sign someone like Cordy Glenn to serve as a potentially capable replacement.
I also wanted to touch on the Trevor Lawrence chatter. I've seen and heard growing speculation that New England will be in position to land Lawrence atop the 2021 NFL Draft. This seems to be nonsense, as there's no way the Cam Newton-led Patriots will be anywhere near as bad as the Jaguars and Bears. Those teams have a much greater chance of being in position for Lawrence, while the Patriots, now without Cannon and Hightower, should finish in the 8-8/9-7 range. Check out my 2021 NFL Mock Draft for more.
Update: Patrick Chung has opted out of the 2020 season as well. This one doesn't matter nearly as much because the Patriots were already loaded at safety with Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips and second-round rookie Kyle Dugger.
Bears NT Eddie Goldman opts out of 2020 season: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Eddie Goldman has announced that he won't be playing football in 2020, citing health concerns. It's unclear what those health concerns are, but Chicago will certainly miss his presence in the interior of the defensive line. Goldman is one of the top run pluggers in the NFL, so his absence will significantly worsen Chicago's ground defense.
So, why is this a 0/10 Disaster Grade? The Bears, quite simply, are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They had no chance of making the playoffs to begin with, so every injury and quitting player will help them obtain either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. I have them selecting fourth in my 2021 NFL Mock Draft at the moment, but I may move them into the No. 2 spot before long.
Patriots fined $1.1 million and forfeit 2021 third-round pick: 2/10 Disaster Rating
It's quite the coincidence that the Cam Newton signing was announced just ahead of this penalty. The Patriots have been fined $1.1 million and will have to forfeit a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for filming the Bengals' sideline.
I can't speak to Bob Kraft's finances amid the pandemic, but losing a third-round pick is not such a big deal. The Patriots surrendered a first-round selection several years ago due to another cheating incident, and that didn't prevent them from winning the Super Bowl on multiple occasions. Granted, things will be more difficult without the greatest quarterback of all time, but this lost draft choice won't really affect New England too much. It'll be like the team drafted a bust in the third round, which is a common occurrence.
It must be noted that the Patriots are getting off with a light infraction. The NFL obviously found them guilty of spying on an opponent, so the penalty of a forfeited third-round pick isn't much of a deterrent. I'm also still confused about why the Patriots would spy on a 1-12 Cincinnati team, and it also makes me wonder what else Bill Belichick has done.
Jets being destroyed by HC Adam Gase: 9/10 Disaster Rating
You may have heard by now that Jets Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams has requested a trade. In fact, he has told the media that he'd love to be dealt to the Cowboys, Buccaneers and some other teams.
What hasn't been clear is why Adams wanted to be traded. Some speculated that it was because of Adam Gase, and based on reporter Manish Mehta's recent article, it is. In fact, almost the entire team despises Gase.
"Some team sources believe that Sam Darnold and David Fales are among the few returning players that actually tolerate Gase," Mehta wrote.
Fales is barely an NFL player, so according to Mehta, it's basically only Darnold. Either way, this is a huge disaster. Adams might be the first of many players to demand a trade to get away from Gase. The Jets should fire him immediately before he ruins the rest of the roster.
49ers WR Deebo Samuel out 3-4 months (broken foot): 4/10 Disaster Rating
The 49ers will be without their top two receivers from last year to start the 2020 season. Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Saints, and now Deebo Samuel will be sidelined with a broken foot.
This has the potential to be devastating for the 49ers, depending on how quickly and well Samuel heals. If his foot continues to hinder him when he returns, San Francisco's passing attack will be diminished. Samuel is also an important running presence out of the backfield, so San Francisco would miss him in that regard.
Then again, Samuel could recover well and be ready to go by the end of September or the beginning of October. If he misses just three or four games, the 49ers will be fine. They still have a great roster, so they can beat some of their early-season opponents - Cardinals, Jets, Giants, Eagles, Dolphins - without Samuel.
Eagles G Brandon Brooks out for season (torn Achilles): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Brandon Brooks is far from a household name among casual NFL fans, so they might be surprised to see this Disaster Grade. It's an 8/10 for a reason, as Brooks' Achilles tear is a devastating blow for the Eagles' 2020 outlook.
Brooks is one of the top guards in the NFL, and his presence has had a huge impact on the Eagles' success during the Carson Wentz era. Per Zach Berman of the Athletic, the Eagles are 41-23 when Brooks plays at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps, and they're 0-6 when he's out or plays fewer than 50 percent of the snaps.
It would be bad enough if Brooks was the only loss the Eagles had up front, but they'll be moving on from Jason Peters as well. The Eagles have enjoyed tons of success with Wentz, partly because of the offensive line. With Peters gone and Brooks injured, it'll be more difficult for Philadelphia to win the division against the Cowboys and vastly improved Giants.
Arrest warrants issues for Seahawks and Giants CBs Quinton Dunbar and DeAndre Baker: 7/10 & 2/10 Disaster Ratings
In a completely bizarre story, TMZ is reporting that arrest warrants have been issued for Seahawks and Giants cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and DeAndre Baker. Per the report, the two players robbed some guests at a barbecue. They allegedly stole $7,000 in cash as well as some overpriced trinkets and gizmos.
This is a crazy story, if only because Dunbar was set to make more than $3 million in 2020. He was also in line for a huge pay day if he had another strong season. Now, he may not play football for a long time if this is true. This is a major bummer for the Seahawks, who figured to have a stellar pair of cornerbacks with Dunbar joining Shaq Griffin. Dunbar's potential absence would be an enormous downgrade for the secondary.
As for the Giants, Baker is coming off an abysmal season. He has potential as a former first-round pick, but I don't think the Giants were really counting on him to be a big factor after spending so much money on James Bradberry.
Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland arrested, suspended four games: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Bashaud Breeland was arrested this week and will be facing a four-game suspension. The thing is, one doesn't have to do with the other. Breeland was already facing a four-game suspension prior to the arrest, which was for driving without a license, driving with open alcohol and marijuana in the car and resisting arrest. The four-game suspension was for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, which can't be a surprise.
Breeland saw extensive play last year, but was ranked as a 1.5-star free agent for a reason. Breeland stinks, so this latest series of developments could be a blessing in disguise because it could force the Chiefs into trading for an upgrade at the position.
NFL expands playoffs to 14 teams: 0/10 Disaster Rating (A+ Grade)
The NFL has announced today that it'll expand its playoff system to 14 teams. Under this new configuration, only No. 1 seeds will get byes. The seventh seed will battle the No. 2 team in the opening round.
I absolutely love this. In fact, it was part of one of the five things I discussed in my book that the NFL could do to improve its product. Shameless plug incoming...
I understand that it's going to be very rare for seven seeds to do much in the playoffs, but how can anyone complain about two more playoff games? Also, it'll keep more teams involved in the playoff hunt late in the year, which must be a good thing. And finally, this is part of the deal to eliminate the dreaded fourth week of the preseason, which was a huge blight on the NFL because no starters ever play in those games.
This is a 0/10 Disaster Grade and an actual A+ grade from the league office. I'm very much looking forward to an extended playoff!
Cowboys C Travis Frederick announces retirement: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Travis Frederick was the top center in the NFL prior to his bout with an auto-immune disease. It was unclear if he would ever play again, but he returned last year and did quite well. He wasn't as good as his former self, but he was still a solid presence in the middle of the offensive line.
However, Frederick has announced his retirement. This is a major blow to Dallas' deep-playoff hopes, but it's not as dire as it would've been had Frederick announced this a few years ago. Still, it'll be very difficult to replace him. Here are the 2020 NFL Draft Center Prospect Rankings.
Ravens G Marshal Yanda announces retirement: 8/10 Disaster Rating
Lamar Jackson won MVP after an amazing season, but a major reason why he was so successful despite lacking much experience was his offensive line. The Ravens had one of the top blocking units in the NFL. It'll be difficult for them to maintain that status in the wake of Marshal Yanda's retirement.
Yanda was arguably the best guard in the NFL during the previous decade, and with eight Pro Bowls on his resume, he's destined to be enshrined in Canton one day. He was set to turn 36 in September, but he was still playing at an extremely high level. He'll sorely be missed.
We've seen young quarterbacks struggle when their offensive line has regressed. Jared Goff is an obvious example. I don't think Jackson's play will plummet like Goff's, but unless the Ravens can somehow find a viable replacement for Yanda, Jackson will likely decline in 2020. In fact, the possibility of the Ravens winning Super Bowl LV is off the table for me at the moment. That's why this Disaster Grade needs to be a high number.
Panthers LB Luke Kuechly announces retirement: 9/10 Disaster Rating
The NFL won't be as fun without Luke Kuechly. He was an amazing player for the Panthers. He was the best linebacker in the NFL for several seasons, and he'll be enshrined in Canton one day.
This is a painful turn of events for the Panthers. Their defense has been dreadful when Kuechly has missed time with concussions. That absence will now be permanent. It'll be very difficult for the Panthers to come close to replacing his presence on the field. As a result, their chances of making the playoffs next year, even with a healthy Cam Newton, have taken a huge hit.
Texans HC Bill O'Brien engages with fan: 4/10 Disaster Rating
We already knew Bill O'Brien was a terrible NFL head coach and a foolish personnel decision-maker who dismantled his entire front office because he wanted all the power to himself. Now, we see him behaving like an idiot with anger management issues when being heckled by a fan. This video contains NSFW language, so make sure you're listening with headphones:
This is a horrible look for O'Brien. If a player did this, it could be excused because they're young and immature. O'Brien, conversely, is a 50-year-old man who is supposed to set a good example for his team. It's very bizarre that he would care what some drunken idiot in the stands had to say to him, but this behavior is very embarrassing and showcases what sort of a hothead O'Brien is. He fired everyone in the front office because he was angry one day, and this is another example of his character problems. If it wasn't for his players holding him back, he may have climbed into the stands like Ron Artest and pummeled this fan, which may have resulted in a riot.
All O'Brien needed to do was ignore the fan or give him a thumbs up. Instead, O'Brien was exposed as a lunatic. The Texans really need to fire him once they're eliminated from the playoffs Sunday afternoon. A head coach with these sort of mental problems can't have great success in the NFL, and it's not like O'Brien is a good coach in the first place.
Bears G Kyle Long announces retirement (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
I've been asked why the Bears regressed this past season, and my answer is that their offensive line was far worse in 2019 than it was the year before. The tackles regressed, perhaps due to age, while Kyle Long missed lots of time with an injury.
I thought the Bears could rebound in 2020 with a Long recovery, but that won't happen in the wake of his retirement. I can understand why Long is hanging up the cleats, given how many injuries he has suffered over the years, but this is especially painful for Chicago. The Bears will have to find a viable replacement for Long, while filling other needs without the luxury of having a first-round pick in the wake of the Khalil Mack trade.
Chiefs S Juan Thornhill out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Despite being a third-round rookie, Juan Thornhill played very well in his initial NFL season. He's one of the few reasons the Chiefs have made a gargantuan improvement on defense in the second half of this year. Thornhill, however, won't be around for the playoffs after tearing his ACL in Week 17.
Thornhill's absence will be very impactful, especially if the Chiefs have to battle Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson in consecutive weeks in the playoffs. I imagine Brady will attempt to exploit Thornhill's backup, and it's not like Kansas City has a viable replacement.
That said, this doesn't absolutely kill the Chiefs' chances of winning the Super Bowl. However, because this injury occurred at the end of December, there's a chance Thornhill won't be ready for the start of the 2020 season.
Seahawks RBs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise out for season; OT Duane Brown out for 3 weeks: 9/10 Disaster Rating
Pete Carroll had a very solemn expression on his face at the end of the Arizona game, and it's not because his team was losing. It was the sudden realization that all hope was lost going forward, as the Seahawks lost all three running backs (Rashaad Penny also on injured reserve) as well as their best offensive lineman for the season.
The only reason this isn't a 10/10 Disaster Grade is because it wasn't an injury to Russell Wilson. The Seahawks still have a prayer with Wilson leading the charge, but they'll certainly need some insane luck to make a deep playoff run without so many of their important players available.
Update: Brown is out for three weeks, which may end up being the season if the Seahawks are bounced in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery out for season (ruptured Achilles): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles maintained control of their own destiny with a win over the Giants on Monday night, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. That's because they lost Alshon Jeffery and Lane Johnson to injury. We still don't know Johnson's status, but Jeffery has been ruled out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.
This is obviously horrible news for the Eagles. They were already down DeSean Jackson, so they'll be without their top two receivers during their potential playoff run. Carson Wentz doesn't have anyone to throw to besides his tight ends and running backs, and that won't be good enough for Philadelphia to get hot down the stretch.
Titans DE/OLB Cameron Wake out for season (knee): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I saw something on Twitter where people were laughing about not knowing Cameron Wake still played in the NFL when he was announced out for the year. These people are either stupid or ignorant, as Wake had been enjoying a solid season. Wake's 2.5 sacks weren't an eye-opening stat, but he had been placing heavy pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Granted, he had been playing about half the snaps each week in an attempt to preserve his health, but Wake's presence was a major reason why the Titans' defense had been excelling. In fact, the Titans were 6-3 with Wake and 0-2 without him.
This is a harmful loss for the Titans, as their pass rush won't be as potent without Wake. It's not completely devastating because the Titans still have Jurrell Casey, Jeffery Simmons and Harold Landry, and Wake was playing 25 snaps or so per game anyway. However, Tennessee doesn't have much margin for error, so a 5/10 Disaster Grade seems correct.
Browns DE Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely, DT Larry Ogunjobi suspended one game; Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey suspended three games (fight): 9/10, 0/10, 3/10 Disaster Rating
I'm sure all of you have seen what transpired at the end of the Browns-Steelers game by now. As a brief recap, Mason Rudolph tried ripping off Myles Garrett's helmet, but Garrett had better success in doing so. He then used Rudolph's helmet as a weapon, swinging it at the quarterback's head. Maurkice Pouncey then jumped on Garrett and threw some punches. Larry Ogunjobi retaliated as well.
Garrett has been suspended indefinitely, and deservedly so. There's obviously no room for anything like that on the football field, and the league is correct to set a precedent. Garrett will, at the minimum, miss the remainder of the season. He'll also need to apply for reinstatement. I imagine he'll be back on the field in 2020 if he shows contrition.
This is obviously very painful for the Browns. Garrett is their best player, and he'll be missed as Cleveland tries to salvage its season. The Browns need to go 5-1 at the very least to have a shot at the playoffs, and it'll be very difficult to do that with Garrett out of the lineup. Meanwhie, Ogunjobi's absence next week is completely insignificant, since the Browns will be playing the Dolphins.
I can't say I'm a fan of the Pouncey suspension. Maybe one game would've made sense, but he was protecting his quarterback from someone who swung a helmet at the signal-caller's head. It was an understandable reaction. Pouncey's absence won't be too impactful, however, given that the Steelers have to play the Bengals, Browns (at home) and Cardinals. Pittsburgh should be able to win those games without Pouncey.
49ers LB Kwon Alexander out for season (torn pec): 7/10 Disaster Rating
I was skeptical of the Kwon Alexander this past offseason because of his poor durability. "[Alexander has] been injured so frequently of late. He played just six games last year because of a torn ACL, and he missed a quarter of the 2017 campaign because of balky hamstrings," I wrote in the free agent signing grades page. Now, Alexander will be out for all of 2019 with a torn pectoral.
This a huge loss. Despite Alexander's poor injury history, he was excellent in coverage this year. He was San Francisco's best coverage linebacker by a substantial margin. Fred Warner is fine in that regard, and he'll continue to see snaps on every down. Alexander's replacement will be Dre Greenlaw, who is a pedestrian option. However, Greenlaw was a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, so perhaps he can improve as he gains some experience.
Texans DE/DT J.J. Watt out for season (torn pec): 9/10 Disaster Rating
What's with these talented 3-4 defensive ends suffering torn pectorals? It was Stephon Tuitt two weeks ago, and now it's J.J. Watt, who is done for the year.
I don't need to tell you that this is an absolutely devastating injury for the Texans. Houston is currently 5-3, but that record will likely head southward in the wake of Watt being lost for the year. Houston's defense already had major problems as far as covering receivers is concerned. Now, the Texans will need to cover receivers without getting the benefit of Watt putting great pressure on the quarterback.
This has to be graded as a 9/10. It's not a 10/10 because this isn't Deshaun Watson, and this injury won't extend beyond this season, but Houston's 2019 campaign is effectively over.
Steelers DE/DT Stephon Tuitt out for season (torn pec): 6/10 Disaster Rating
This is a painful injury for the Steelers. Stephon Tuitt is one of the top 3-4 defensive linemen in the NFL. Tyson Alualu is a solid replacement, but Pittsburgh's defense will certainly take a hit in the wake of Tuitt's absence. This is huge, given that the Steelers' defense will have to carry the Ben Roethlisberger-less offense.
Under normal circumstances, I'd brush off a 2-4 team losing one of its best players, as more losses would result in a better draft pick. However, the Steelers are all in for this year because they traded their first-round pick, so their losses are more harmful.
I'm giving this a 6/10 Disaster Grade. I think the Steelers can survive and perhaps make the playoffs without Tuitt because of Alualu, but another injury to their defensive line would be devastating.
Chargers C Mike Pouncey out for season (neck): 6/10 Disaster Rating
The Chargers are a mess. Save for their victory against the worst team in NFL history, their only win came as a result of Adam Vinatieri's many missed field goals. Now, they'll have to accumulate more wins without their starting center, as Mike Pouncey is out for the year with a neck injury.
San Angeles will now be down two starting offensive linemen, with Russell Okung also out. The Chargers already had severe problems blocking, and now it's going to be even worse.
It's evident that the Chargers are in serious trouble. They're 2-3 right now, but Pouncey's injury just means that they're going to lose even more often.
49ers OT Mike McGlinchey out 4-6 weeks (knee): 4/10 Disaster Rating
One of the reasons I believe the 49ers can win the Super Bowl this year is their offensive line. They have an amazing blocking unit, but this injury will hurt, especially with Joe Staley set to miss the next several weeks.
Teams can often overcome one offensive line injury, but two can be very tricky. The 49ers will be down to their third and fourth tackles, so that'll be a huge downgrade.
The good news in all of this is that both Staley and McGlinchey will be back by Thanksgiving, so their availability will be crucial for a playoff run. However, their absences could cause the team to lose some games, which could cost San Francisco home-field advantage.
Colts DE Kemoko Turay out for season (broken ankle): 4/10 Disaster Rating
This is a shame, as Kemoko Turay has been enjoying a terrific 2019 campaign. Turay, a second-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, has been placing lots of pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season. The sack total doesn't look great (1.5), but that number isn't indicative of how great he has played. It's also worth noting that Turay missed a couple of games earlier as well; otherwise his sack total would be much higher.
Turay's absence will hurt, but not very much despite his great play. That's because the Colts still have Justin Houston and Jabaal Sheard at defensive end. If one of those players suffers an injury, it'll be very damaging, but Indianapolis will be able to survive without one of its three talented edge rushers.
Redskins HC Jay Gruden has video leaked: 0/10 Disaster Rating
A video of Jay Gruden smoking marijuana has been leaked. Based on how Roger Goodell feels about this, I expect Gruden to be suspended for five years.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have to believe that the Redskins leaked this video so they can fire Gruden for just cause. There's speculation that this video is a year old, so it's quite the coincidence that it was leaked the day Gruden has foolishly chosen to start Colt McCoy over Dwayne Haskins.
There's no logical reason for Gruden to start McCoy over Haskins, so this seems like an attempt to get fired. The video, however, could mean that Washington won't owe Gruden anything, which is great news for the team. Thus, there's no Disaster Grade warranted because it seems as though any coach would be an upgrade over Gruden at this point.
Broncos DE/OLB Bradley Chubb out for the season (torn ACL): 0/10 Disaster Rating
When I first saw this, I thought, "Ooof, that sucks for the Broncos." Then, I quickly remembered that Denver is 0-4. The team hasn't even played the Chiefs yet, so make that six losses. It has no chance of making the playoffs, so the team is better off being as bad as possible to secure a high selection in the loaded 2020 NFL Draft. In fact, I think it would be wise for the Broncos to emulate the Dolphins and tank for Tua Tagovailoa, or at least Justin Herbert.
For that reason, I'm giving this a 0/10 Disaster Grade. This injury could be a blessing in disguise. Even better, Chubb's injury occurred so early in the season that he should be 100 percent by the 2020 opener.
Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict suspended for the 2019 season (unnecessary roughness): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Good riddance. Vontaze Burfict needs to learn his lesson about head hunting, as he has caused numerous players to have brutal concussions over the years. This includes Antonio Brown, whose life has changed every since he took that horrible hit.
Burfict's latest victim was Jack Doyle. Burfict lit him up in Sunday's game and was promptly ejected. It was a disgusting hit, and as soon as it happened, I thought that Burfict needed a yearlong ban because he was endangering the safety of players in the NFL. The league made the correct decision by suspending him for an entire year.
This is a tough grade. On one hand, the Raiders will really miss Burfict, who had been playing well in his first season in Oakland. On the other hand, the Raiders, despite being 2-2, don't really have a great chance to reach the playoffs, so Burfict's suspension will help Oakland obtain a better selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Colts S Malik Hooker out 4-6 weeks (knee): 6/10 Disaster Rating
This one hurts a ton for a non-season-ending injury. When listing the reasons why the Colts were blown out in Kansas City in the divisional round of the playoffs last year, No. 1 would be Malik Hooker's absence. The Chiefs torched Indianapolis' secondary because Hooker was injured.
The Colts have a terrific roster, perhaps the best in the NFL if all quarterbacks are excluded, but Hooker is a big part of that. He's one of the top safeties in the NFL, so his absence will sting, especially against the Chiefs and Texans being the next two opponents following a battle against Oakland.
Indianapolis' margin for error without Andrew Luck is rather small, so Hooker's injury could completely derail their season. If Hooker doesn't return immediately following the team's Week 6 bye, the Colts could be in major trouble.
Falcons S Keanu Neal out for season (torn Achilles): 7/10 Disaster Rating
When Keanu Neal was ruled out for the season in 2018, I gave the Falcons a 3/10 Disaster Grade because they had a viable replacement in Damonte Kazee. That's not the case anymore, as Kazee was already playing extensively.
Losing Neal will hurt, as he's a fantastic talent. He wasn't playing great this year, but he had the potential to turn things around and become a dominant player for Atlanta down the stretch. That's no longer a possibility, and his replacement, Kemal Ishmael, isn't very good at football.
I have to grade this highly. Neal has now been lost for the year for two consecutive seasons, so this is an indication that he can't stay healthy.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley out several weeks (high ankle sprain): 1/10 Disaster Rating
This is a 10/10 Disaster Grade for Saquon Barkley fantasy owners, which includes myself in one of my six leagues. R.I.P., $200 entry fee!
As far as the Giants are concerned, this is not a big deal. In fact, it'll be beneficial, long term. Barkley's absence will allow the Giants to lose games, which would put them in position to land Ohio State's Chase Young in the 2020 NFL Draft. New York's defense is an abomination, so Young would provide a huge boost in fixing it.
The only reason I'm even giving the Giants a non-zero Disaster Grade is because having Barkley would be nice for Daniel Jones' development, but I imagine Jones will be just fine.
Patriots cut WR Antonio Brown: 0/10 & 10/10 Disaster Rating
The Patriots signed Antonio Brown back when his biggest issues were his feud with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock and the weird helmet drama. Since then, however, Brown has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and rape. Weird texts and e-mails have surfaced as well, including one where Brown posted pictures of someone else's children. All of this has been too much for the Patriots, who have cut ties with Brown.
This is a 0/10 Disaster Grade for the Patriots. They've won six Super Bowls without Brown, and they can win a seventh one without him as well. In fact, Tom Brady has claimed some Lombardis with minimal receiving talent, so Brown's departure won't hurt at all. The only thing it'll do is limit New England's chances of finishing 19-0. Brown gave them a shot to do that, but the important thing is winning the Super Bowl.
For Brown personally, this is a 10/10 Disaster Grade. I think he's done in the NFL unless he's absolved of the accusations. Given everything surrounding him, I can't see why any team - short of an XFL franchise - would ever give him a chance unless some major positive news surfaces about him.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger out for season (elbow): 10/10 Disaster Rating
I liked the Steelers to win the division heading into the year, as I never really bought into the Browns. That doesn't seem like a possibility now, as Pittsburgh won't have Ben Roethlisberger the rest of the way, thanks to impending season-ending elbow surgery.
This is a nightmare for Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger, when healthy, is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. However, it was quite apparent that he wasn't the same through two games. His passes have been way off, and his elbow injury got so bad this past Sunday that he was wincing in pain against the Seahawks. The Steelers will be better off with Mason Rudolph than the Roethlisberger we've seen these past two weeks, but not having the real Roethlisberger hurts Pittsburgh's chances of making the playoffs.
Making matters worse, we may never see the same Roethlisberger ever again. He'll turn 38 before he takes the field again, which is far from ideal because he'll be an old player coming off arm surgery.
It'll be the Rudolph show going forward. Rudolph looked solid against the Seahawks - 12-of-19, 112 yards, two touchdowns, one interception that wasn't his fault - but that must be taken with a grain of salt, given that Seattle's horrific secondary surrendered 400 yards to Andy Dalton the previous week. Still, I liked what I saw out of Rudolph in the preseason, so the Steelers should still at least be competitive.
Saints QB Drew Brees out six weeks (torn thumb ligament): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Drew Brees couldn't grip a football during the loss to the Rams this past Sunday. He didn't travel back with the team to New Orleans, opting to remain in Los Angeles to see a hand specialist. The diagnosis was a torn thumb ligament, so Brees will be out until the beginning of November.
This is obviously a detrimental injury for the Saints. Teddy Bridgewater struggled in place of Brees, and I'm not sure he'll be able to lead New Orleans to many victories. In fact, I think it would be best if Sean Payton named Taysom Hill his starter. Hill was excellent in the preseason and has some major potential. Bridgewater, conversely, was inconsistent in the preseason and just doesn't look the same quarterback he once was prior to his devastating injury.
This could easily have been a 9/10 Disaster Grade under different circumstances, but I've opted with an 8/10 because the rest of the NFC South has some major issues right now. Cam Newton is hurt; the Falcons can't block; and the Buccaneers are, well, the Buccaneers. The Saints can still win the division. However, getting home-field advantage in the playoffs seems impossible now, and New Orleans needed that, given how much better the team performs in the Superdome.
Eagles DT Timmy Jernigan out 4-6 weeks (broken foot): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I wrote last week that I wasn't too concerned about the Malik Jackson injury at the time because the Eagles still had great depth at defensive tackle. That depth has now been diminished in the wake of Timmy Jernigan's broken foot. He'll be out more than a month.
NFL teams often have major problems when they suffer multiple injuries at the same position. The Eagles don't have much left in the interior of their defensive line, save for Fletcher Cox. They'll have to use Akeem Spence and Hassan Ridgeway more, which is far from ideal.
The silver lining here is that Jernigan should be back by November. This would obviously be far more devastating if he were out for the season like Jackson.
Jets QB Sam Darnold out several weeks (mono): 9/10 Disaster Rating
I've been covering the NFL for 20 years, and I can't ever remember a quarterback getting mono. For those of you who never had mono before, it's something that completely drains your energy. I had mono when I was 24, and I was wiped out for almost two months. Something simple like taking a shower would exhaust me. While having mono, I wasn't allowed to play any sports because the spleen is enlarged, and thus at risk for major damage upon contact. As a result, I expect Darnold to miss 6-8 weeks.
The Jets' season is over, hence the 9/10 Disaster Grade. I had high hopes for them, but Trevor Siemian will not lead them to many victories.
The silver lining here is that we at least know why Darnold sucked so much in Week 1. He probably felt like crap during the game and didn't know why.
Chargers TE Hunter Henry out 4-6 weeks (knee): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Is Hunter Henry ever not injured? Henry's latest malady is to his knee, which he suffered in practice. He'll be out four to six weeks.
It was initially difficult to give this too high of a Disaster Grade because the Chargers reached the playoffs last year without Henry. However, after thinking about it, I made it a 4/10. Given that this is yet another injury to Henry's knee, there's some potential that this has some long-term ramifications, which would obviously be detrimental to San Angeles.
For the present, the Chargers should be able to survive without Henry. It'll be interesting to see if they give a call to Antonio Gates.
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill out 4-6 weeks (clavicle): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Tyreek Hill was tackled violently by Jalen Ramsey in the season opener and had to be carted off with a shoulder injury. He was ultimately hospitalized because the hit was so hard that it caused damage to his sternum. I was wondering if this would mean that Hill would be lost for the year. Instead, he'll miss four to six weeks.
This is great news for the Chiefs, as they'll likely have Hill back prior to November. They have some easy games coming up, battling the Raiders and Lions on the road, and hosting the Ravens and Colts. I don't think they'll need Hill to win those games. If so, Hill's absence could actually be a blessing in disguise because it'll force Mecole Hardman into action, and giving a raw rookie increased snaps could enhance his development.
Cardinals OT Marcus Gilbert out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
When the Cardinals traded for Marcus Gilbert, I thought it was a good move, but acknowledged that Gilbert might be able to give them only 10 games in 2019 because of his very dubious injury history. Apparently, I was optimistic by exactly 10 games, as Gilbert won't play at all for the Cardinals.
It's a shame that the Cardinals wasted a sixth-round pick on Gilbert. His absence could hurt Kyler Murray's progression a little bit, as newly signed Jordan Mills will be a huge downgrade. The rest of the offensive line played better than expected in the opener, but Gilbert's injury could be the start of a cascade of injuries to the front, which is what occurred last year.
I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade. It would be higher if I didn't expect an injury to Gilbert at some point. Still, this is harmful for Arizona, as another injury to the line would be devastating.
Eagles DT Malik Jackson out for season (Lisfranc): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Malik Jackson seemed like an excellent offseason addition to bolster the defensive line. We'll never know how good of a signing this could have been, as Jackson will be out for the year with a Lisfranc injury.
Jackson is a very talented player, so his absence will hurt the Eagles. However, I don't think this is a huge loss because the Eagles are extremely deep up front. Philadelphia can survive this, though another injury to a good player in the interior of the defensive line would really start to chip away at the Eagles' depth.
Falcons G Chris Lindstrom out eight games (broken foot): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Chris Lindstrom will be out at least eight weeks after breaking a small bone in his foot. Lindstrom may just be one of five starters on Atlanta's offensive line, but his absence will be enormous. The Falcons haven't been able to pass protect at all this year so far, whether it was the season opener at Minnesota or the preseason games. Lindstrom was one of the lone bright spots up front, and now he'll be missing for a couple of months.
The Falcons are in trouble, and Lindstrom's injury is a major reason for that. They're going to have to turn things around quickly, but it'll be difficult to do so with Jamon Brown, who will be a major downgrade from Lindstrom.
Jaguars QB Nick Foles to be placed on injured reserve (broken collar bone): 8/10 Disaster Rating
There's a chance Nick Foles, who broke his collar bone while throwing a touchdown against the Chiefs, will return later this season. However, he'll have to miss at least eight games as a result of being placed on injured reserve.
I know replacement rookie Gardner Minshew went 22-of-25, but only two of his passes were deep attempts, and he was going up against a poor defense playing prevent most of the time in the second half. Minshew was awful in the preseason - check out my Rookie Quarterback Grades for more - so I don't trust his brief success to last over the long term.
This is a devastating injury for the Jaguars. They spent so much money on Foles, yet now they won't have him for half the season. Perhaps their defense can keep them afloat enough until Foles returns, but they're already 0-1, so they already have ground to make up.
Raiders cut WR Antonio Brown: 0/10 Disaster Rating
The drama is finally over. After a summer comprised of strange Antonio Brown stories, the Raiders have finally decided to cut ties with their best receiver. They've officially released him.
This might be the best thing to happen to the Raiders. I'm not talking about for this season, as Oakland will now be one of the two or three worst teams in the NFL. However, the Raiders didn't have much of a chance to reach the playoffs in the first place, thanks to Derek Carr's mediocrity and a schedule that features a 2-month span without a home game. The Raiders needed to tank, and cutting Brown will allow them to do that.
If this move allows Oakland to land one of Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert atop the 2020 NFL Draft, it'll be worth it. The Raiders can restart this upcoming April, finding a real franchise quarterback and then adding a No. 1 receiver or another dynamic prospect with Chicago's first-round choice (which might be higher in the order than expected.) They'll be set up well heading to Las Vegas, all because they opted to get rid of an aging, malcontent wide receiver.
Patriots C David Andrews out indefinitely (blood clots): 7/10 Disaster Rating
David Andrews, one of the better centers in the NFL, could be out for the season because of blood clots in his lungs. Andrews has been hospitalized and will reportedly miss a "significant amount of time."
This is obviously horrible news for Andrews, so hopefully he has a speedy recovery. This is awful for the Patriots as well. Andrews is a key member of New England's offensive line. He's an excellent pass protector, and he'll sorely be missed.
I know I've made the case for the Patriots surviving injuries and suspensions - i.e. from my Patrick Chung write-up before - but with Andrews gone, that'll be two members of the offensive line from last year who won't be back (Trent Brown.) Center is one of the most important positions in the NFL, so this injury could spoil New England's aspirations to repeat again.
Texans RB Lamar Miller out for season (torn ACL, MCL): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Andrew Luck's retirement on Saturday night was absolutely shocking. Conversely, Lamar Miller tearing his ACL and MCL on his first touch of the preseason earlier that evening may have been one of the least-surprising things to ever happen in pro football. I wrote earlier in the offseason that the Texans' coaching staff didn't have faith in Miller lasting the entire season. Well, he didn't even last a single play in the preseason.
It sucks for Miller that he tore his ACL and MCL, but this could be a blessing in disguise for the Texans. Miller, if he somehow managed to remain healthy, was going to wear down in the final month of the season. This injury will force the Texans into acquiring a better running back. Perhaps they'll sign Jay Ajayi or trade for either Melvin Gordon or LeSean McCoy. All three players will be a better backfield threat for Deshaun Watson than Miller was.
I'm giving the Texans a 2/10 Disaster Grade. This forces them to spend money or use draft capital to acquire a running back, but it might be for the best.
Colts QB Andrew Luck announces retirement: 5,000/10 Disaster Rating
Adam Schefter reported that Andrew Luck has announced his retirement. Luck apparently met with owner Jim Irsay to tell him that he's "mentally worn down," and now "checking out."
This is unbelievable. Schefter tweeted it from his verified account, and I'm actually wondering if someone hacked his Twitter account. That's how unreal this is. Luck seems like a guy who lives and breathes football, so the fact that he's "mentally worn down" just seems bizarre to me.
The Colts are absolutely f***ed. They had a great chance to win the Super Bowl this year if Luck could remain healthy. In my opinion, they had the best roster in the AFC. Now, they're completely quarterback-less. Jacoby Brissett will start, and Chad Kelly will remain a developmental young quarterback behind him, but neither is the long-term answer. The Colts have great talent across their roster and thus may not be able to be bad enough to land Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft without trading up. Thus, they might be stuck in purgatory for quite a while.
I've never assigned a Disaster Grade this high, but it's warranted. This announcement will absolutely ruin the Colts.
Patriots S Patrick Chung cited for cocaine (suspended TBA games): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Patrick Chung was cited for cocaine possession in late July, according to Tom Curren of NBC Sports. There will certainly be a suspension, though it's unclear how long that will be. I imagine it'll be anywhere between 4-8 games, depending on what occurs legally.
I don't think this will impact the Patriots at all. They have other safeties who can fill in. Duron Harmon can see more snaps, and that's perfectly fine. New England also has some young players who can be effective in Chung's place.
If you're still not convinced, think about it this way: The Patriots won a Super Bowl in a season in which Tom Brady was suspended for four games. They also won a Super Bowl in a season in which Rob Gronkowski was injured (when Gronkowski was in his prime.) They also won a Super Bowl in a season in which Bill Belichick had to move wide receiver Troy Brown to cornerback because of all the injuries at corner. New England will do just fine without Chung.
Chargers S Derwin James out three months (foot surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Derwin James is the latest Charger who won't be available for regular-season action, as he endured a stress fracture in his foot. He'll undergo foot surgery, which will knock him out until about Thanksgiving.
It goes without saying that this is a disastrous situation for the Chargers. James is the centerpiece of San Angeles' defense, as he was the primary reason why the Chargers were ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed last year for the first time since 2014. The Chargers already suffered a rash of losses, namely to Russell Okung and Melvin Gordon (holdout). James will be the Chargers' most prominent absence.
This Disaster Grade must be a high one. I can't go below a 7/10, as this could ruin the Chargers' 2019 season. The one positive aspect of this news is that James could play the final month of the season, but there's no guarantee he'll be 100 percent coming off foot surgery.
Jets LB Avery Williamson out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
I love the Jets as a dark-horse sleeper to make a deep run into the playoffs, but this news is not encouraging for that prediction. Avery Williamson collided with a teammate during last night's preseason game. He was diagnosed with a torn ACL and will be out for the season.
The Jets already lost Darron Lee this offseason, so Williamson's absence will be painful. The only good news is that the Jets aren't completely barren at the position, thanks to the C.J. Mosley signing. Still, Williamson will be missed, as he's a very good player, particularly in run support.
I'm giving the Jets a 6/10 Disaster Grade for this injury. It would be higher if it wasn't for Mosley. The Jets currently don't have a viable replacement for Williamson unless fifth-round rookie Blake Cashman can step up. Here's a list of the top NFL Free Agent Linebackers for the Jets to replace Williamson.
Bengals WR A.J. Green out 6-8 weeks (sprained ankle): 6/10 Disaster Rating
A.J. Green avoided a serious injury when he was carted off the field following Saturday's practice. It was revealed that he suffered just a sprained ankle, but this injury will keep him out 6-8 weeks, meaning he may miss the entire month of September.
This is potentially disastrous for Cincinnati's season. First of all, the pedestrian Bengals need all hands on deck to be competitive in the wake of their offensive line troubles, and three of their first four games are on the road (at Seattle, Buffalo, Pittsburgh), so it'll be difficult for them to win early. Second, Green has an extensive history of leg injuries, and this is yet another one. It could lead to Green getting hurt again when he returns, which would officially end Cincinnati's season.
I'm giving the Bengals a 6/10 Disaster Grade for this injury. It could be higher, but there's also a chance that Green will make a quick recovery and return after just a one-game absence.
Giants WR Golden Tate suspended for four games (PEDs): 0/10 Disaster Rating
The Giants receivers are dropping like flies. Sterling Shepard broke his thumb, then Corey Coleman tore his ACL. Now, Golden Tate will miss the first four games of the season for PEDs. At this rate, Darius Slayton, Cody Latimer and Russell Shepard should go hide out in a cave somewhere in the mountains before anything bad happens to them.
I gave the Coleman injury a 0/10 Disaster Grade because Coleman stinks. This is a 0/10 Disaster Grade for another reason. Tate still has potential for a big season despite not doing anything for Philadelphia, but the Giants don't have a chance of making the playoffs, especially in the wake of none of their receivers being available early in the season. At this rate, they should consider tanking for the No. 1 pick so they can trade it for a king's ransom to a team desperate to obtain Tua Tagovailoa.
Seahawks DT Jarran Reed suspended for six games (league's personal conduct policy): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Tyreek Hill wasn't the only NFL player who got into hot water for domestic violence this offseason. Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed was accused of this as well. He wasn't charged or arrested, but the league opted to suspend him for six games.
This will be a painful loss for the Seahawks. Reed is their best interior pass rusher, so his absence will be magnified by the departure of Frank Clark. Unless Ziggy Ansah can revert to his former self, the Seahawks will have immense issues getting to the quarterback in the first six games of the season.
To determine how detrimental this will be for Seattle, we must look at its first six opponents. The Seahawks will battle Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Kyler Murray, Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield in the first six games. The Seahawks can defeat Dalton and Murray without Reed, but beating the other four quarterbacks without an interior disruptor will be challenging. That said, the Seahawks have come back from slow starts in past years, so a 2-4 beginning to the season won't disqualify them from playoff contention.
Giants WR Corey Coleman out for season (torn ACL): 0/10 Disaster Rating
When I saw Corey Coleman trending on Twitter, I thought he was arrested, or something of that nature. I quickly learned that he tore his ACL instead. While this sucks for Coleman, I don't know why anyone thinks this is significant.
Coleman was projected to be the Giants' third receiver this year behind Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, but only by default. The Giants have nothing else at the position, though it could be argued that the Giants already had nothing beyond Tate and Shepard. Coleman was a former first-round pick, but he's been a big-time bust in the NFL. Bill Belichick didn't even think he could redeem Coleman, opting to cut him from the practice squad last September.
This is a zero Disaster Grade. Coleman wasn't going to do anything positive for New York this season. I don't know why people think this is a big deal, outside of this being devastating for Coleman personally. The Giants' win-loss record will not be affected in the slightest by this injury.
Titans OT Taylor Lewan suspended four games (substance-abuse policy): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Taylor Lewan took a polygraph test to inform the league that he unknowingly took a substance that prompted this suspension, but the NFL apparently didn't care. Lewan will miss the first four weeks of the season.
This is obviously a blow for the Titans, given that Lewan is one of the top left tackles in the NFL. To determine how devastating it is, we must look at the schedule. Tennessee opens against Cleveland and its revamped defensive line. Following that contest, the Titans have two divisional battles against the Colts and Jaguars, then travel to Atlanta.
The Titans figure to be underdogs in all four games without Lewan. Not having Lewan to block Myles Garrett will be huge. Lewan would also be needed against Jacksonville's stellar defensive line. Missing him for two divisional contests could end up ruining Tennessee's playoff chances.
Given how difficult the schedule is, the Titans could start 0-4. The Disaster Grade has to be relatively high as a result. The only silver lining is that Tennessee has a solid backup tackle in Dennis Kelly, but the Titans will definitely miss Lewan to begin the year.
AFC West sees WR Tyreek Hill suspended zero games: 9/10 Disaster Rating
For a while, it seemed as though Tyreek Hill would be suspended for all of 2019, and possibly longer. A short recording of him was leaked by the fake sports news media, which seemed to incriminate him. Yet, the police dropped their investigation of Hill. It seemed an odd thing to do at the time, given the recording, but we now know why the authorities decided not to pursue any charges after the full tape was released. It turns out that Hill's ex-fiancee was attempting to set up Hill to take a fall. In fact, Hill admitted to not even hitting his ex-fiancee in 2014, which is something he got into trouble for.
Given that the police found no evidence of wrongdoing on Hill's part - including an admission of innocence for an earlier crime - the NFL had no reason to suspend him. As a result, this is horrible news for the other AFC West teams that had a chance to win the division (i.e. Chargers).
It's still possible that the Chargers will win the AFC West, but it's far more unlikely now. I expected regression from the Chargers in the first place, so now they'll have to deal with a dynamic offense that will have its game-breaking receiver for 16 games.
Bengals G Clint Boling announces retirement (medical concerns): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Oh boy. About a month ago, the Bengals could classify three offensive linemen of theirs as solid blockers, assuming that Jonah Williams wasn't going to be a complete bust. They were Williams, Cordy Glenn and Clint Boling. Now, Cincinnati is down to one solid lineman, as Williams is out for the year, while Boling has announced retirement, citing medical worries.
Given what has transpired over the past few weeks, the Bengals now have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. When Glenn inevitably gets hurt - per usual - Cincinnati will have the worst blocking unit in the league. This will make winning very difficult, and it could lead to a record of 2-14 or 3-13.
It doesn't seem as though the Bengals will be very competitive in 2019, but the silver lining is that these events could put them in position to obtain Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft (see my 2020 NFL Mock Draft here.) So, even though this retirement is a 6/10 Disaster Grade as far as the Bengals being viable for the playoffs, it could be argued that this Disaster Grade should really be a 0/10.
Bengals OT/G Jonah Williams likely out for season (torn labrum): 6/10 Disaster Rating
The Bengals suffered a high number of injuries last year, and if Jonah Williams' torn labrum is any indication, 2019 will be another rough year in that regard.
Cincinnati's offensive line is not very good, so the team was counting on its first-round rookie to help stabilize things up front. Instead, Williams will likely spend his entire first season on the injury report after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Williams was an overrated prospect heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, as some teams saw him as a tweener tackle/guard. However, this injury still will hurt Cincinnati's chances of being competitive. This could potentially damage Williams' growth as well, so the Bengals should definitely be concerned.
Redskins LB Reuben Foster out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
The Redskins appeared to obtain a steal with Reuben Foster, signing him after the 49ers cut him in the wake of his latest domestic abuse allegations. Many criticized this move, but Washington looked very smart when the charges were dropped.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, they won't get to have the talented linebacker in the NFL patrolling the middle of their defense. Mason Foster is still available, but Reuben Foster was expected to take the defense over the top. His absence will hurt a team that needed to replace Zach Brown, who signed with the Eagles this offseason.
This injury deserves a high Disaster Grade. I thought the Redskins had a chance at the playoffs if Dwayne Haskins performed well as a rookie, thanks to their stellar defense, running game and offensive line. Foster's impending absence changes those odds, as the Redskins will struggle to cover the middle of the field without him.
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson suspended six games (PEDs): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Patrick Peterson has been suspended six games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He'll miss games against the Lions, Ravens, Panthers, Seahawks, Bengals and Falcons.
It doesn't seem like the Cardinals will be going against too many lethal passing attacks without Peterson, as they'll really only miss him versus Seattle and Atlanta, and perhaps Carolina, depending on how Cam Newton's shoulder feels. Arizona added some cornerback talent this offseason, acquiring Robert Alford in free agency and Byron Murphy early in the draft, so their secondary won't be in a horrible situation without Peterson.
Moreover, I don't think this suspension is a big deal because the Cardinals were unlikely to make the playoffs this year anyway. Losing some extra games will put them in a position to obtain a better player in next spring's draft class, which looks amazing at the moment (check my 2020 NFL Mock Draft for more.)
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin released/likely to announce retirement: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Doug Baldwin has been a terrific receiver for the Seahawks over the past several seasons, but that era is over. Seattle released Baldwin with a failed physical designation, prompting many to believe that Baldwin will announce his retirement in the near future.
This is yet another very painful loss for the Seahawks. Baldwin was Russell Wilson's favorite receiver, so Wilson will now have to find someone new to lock on to. Aside from Tyler Lockett, the Seahawks don't have much at the position. They drafted plenty of wideouts a couple of weeks ago, including the very athletic D.K. Metcalf. However, Metcalf is not a very good football player, and he doesn't know how to run routes.
Given Metcalf's problems, the Seahawks will likely have to count on guys like Jaron Brown, David Moore, Amara Darboh, Gary Jennings and John Ursua to step up, and I'm not sure if that can happen. It seems like Seattle's offense will regress next year, which is a problem, given that the defense has been decimated in recent years.
Jaguars LB Telvin Smith will not play in 2019 (personal): 8/10 Disaster Rating
It's unclear if Telvin Smith is ever going to play again, but we know he won't be on the field in 2019. Smith made the announcement on social media, citing that he needs to give time back to "myself, my family and my health." It's entirely possible that Smith will return in 2020 after taking a year off, but we don't know that for sure.
This is a crushing blow to Jacksonville's 2019 Super Bowl chances. The Jaguars were expected to field one of the top defenses in the NFL, and they were going to pair that with a much better offense than they had in 2017, thanks to Nick Foles' presence. That, however, won't be the case anymore. Smith was such an important member of Jacksonville's defense as a three-down linebacker who thrived in both coverage and run support. Outside of Myles Jack, the Jaguars don't have another player like that, so they may have trouble defending tight ends and pass-catching running backs throughout 2019.
Buccaneers DE/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul out 5-6 months (neck surgery): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Jason Pierre-Paul was in a car crash last week. He was fortunate to survive, but his 2019 season is in jeopardy because of a fractured neck. Adam Schefter reported that Pierre-Paul would miss all of 2019, but it now sounds like he'll be out 5-6 months. That means he could return by November. Still, it's unclear how impactful Pierre-Paul will be once/if he returns to action, as he likely won't be 100 percent.
This is a huge blow for Tampa's 2019 outlook, as Pierre-Paul is one of the Buccaneers' few talented edge rushers. The Buccaneers won't get nearly as much pressure on Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, making it much more difficult for them to defeat their divisional opponents.
That said, I'm reluctant to give this a high Disaster Grade. The Buccaneers weren't expected to contend for a playoff spot this season, so perhaps starting over is the best course of action. Pierre-Paul's injury could put Tampa Bay in a better position to draft Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or Jake Fromm, as you can see here in my 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette arrested: 4/10 Disaster Rating
Leonard Fournette was arrested Thursday for speeding and "knowingly driving with a suspended license." Personally, I think this would be more interesting if he was arrested for unknowingly driving with a suspended license, but that's just me.
This is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, as many worse legal things could've happened to an NFL star. However, this is yet another incident that could prompt the Jaguars to move on from Fournette. There were reports about them considering doing so earlier in the offseason, stemming from his suspension last year and questions about his toughness after he took forever to recover from a hamstring injury. I'm not sure if this will be the camel to break the straw's back - as one Hall of Fame running back once said - but this incident won't help Jacksonville's already tenuous relationship with its talented running back.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski announces retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Rob Gronkowski was once the top tight end in the NFL, and it wasn't even close. Gronkowski was a dominant, downfield presence who couldn't be defended, at least when healthy. That, however, was his downfall. He suffered way too many injuries in his career, prompting an early retirement. At just 29, Gronkowski has hung up his cleats.
Gronkowski retiring a couple of years ago would've warranted a Disaster Grade of 8/10 or so. Now, not so much. Gronkowski was a shell of his former self last year. Looking like he was running in quicksand at all times, Gronkowski caught just 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. He had some nice moments in the playoffs, but he wasn't anywhere close to the perennial All-Pro we were used to seeing.
This is a 2/10 Disaster Grade at most. Gronkowski should easily be replaceable. In fact, the only reason it's not a 1/10 is because the Patriots missed out on Jared Cook in free agency. The good news is that there are several talented tight end prospects available in the draft, as you can see in our 2019 NFL Draft Tight End Prospect Rankings.
Saints C Max Unger announces retirement: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Max Unger has been the Saints' starting center for the past four years, but there won't be a fifth. Unger has decided to retire, completing his career as a three-time Pro Bowler.
Though Unger didn't have a great 2018 campaign, the Saints will certainly miss him. He's been a steady presence for them, missing only one start in four seasons. There's also no viable replacement for Unger. The in-house options are guys named Cameron Tom and Will Clapp, neither of whom is very promising. The best unrestricted free agent in the NFL Free Agent Center Rankings is Stefen Wisniewski, who would make an OK short-term solution.
Luckily for the Saints, there are some second-day centers who could be solid replacements, including Erik McCoy, Elgton Jenkins and perhaps Garrett Bradbury if he falls. However, neither is guaranteed to be a quality replacement for Unger, so this is a painful turn of events for New Orleans.
Browns RB Kareem Hunt suspended 8 games (violent video): 1/10 Disaster Rating
When the Browns signed Kareem Hunt, it wasn't even clear if he would be able to play this upcoming season. There was always a chance he would be suspended the entire year for what we all saw on the infamous video. The punishment has been handed down - much sooner than I expected - and Hunt will only miss half the 2019 season.
This has to be outstanding news for the Browns. They must have expected this to be the best-case scenario for Hunt's suspension. Perhaps they may have thought Hunt would get six games, but they'll absolutely take eight. The Browns, thanks to all of the additions they've made, are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, so having Hunt available during the second half of the year will be huge.
Hunt, by the way, will truly miss 15 games in total, counting the two playoff games, as a result of what occurred. So, for those calling for Hunt to be suspended for an entire year, that's essentially what has transpired. Hunt has shown contrition and is seeking help to prevent something like this from happening again, so this suspension seems fair.
Saints DT Sheldon Rankins out for season (torn Achilles): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles in the victory over the Eagles on Sunday. This is a huge loss, not only for the next two games, but for 2019 as well.
Because this injury occurred so late in the year, it's highly unlikely that Rankins will be ready for training camp. It seems like the best-case scenario will be for him to be placed on the PUP list and then activated at some point in the second half of the 2019 campaign. Even then, chances are he won't be 100 percent.
Meanwhile, Rankins will sorely be missed in the NFC Championship and potential Super Bowl appearance. He's the Saints' best interior defensive lineman. He's excellent at stopping the run and generating an interior pass rush. New Orleans' defense won't be the same without him. His absence won't preclude the Saints from winning the Super Bowl, but it'll be much more difficult for them to do so.
Patriots WR Josh Gordon suspended indefinitely (substance abuse policy): 4/10 Disaster Rating
In a parallel universe, Josh Gordon would be thriving in a football league run by a commissioner who didn't conduct himself like a Saudi Arabian dictator. Unfortunately, in our reality, Gordon will continue to be penalized for stupid things.
It's a shame Gordon has relapsed, though it's not much of a surprise. It'd be nice if Roger Goodell actually cared about Gordon and tried to help him, rather than banishing him from his job. Alas, that is not the case.
For the Patriots, this obviously hurts, but it's not a death blow to their season. Tom Brady has won Super Bowls with inferior supporting casts than this, and he can do it again. The problem with the Patriots happens to be their defense, and I don't see that being resolved before the playoffs.
Titans CB Logan Ryan out for season (broken fibula): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Logan Ryan suffered a broken fibula midway through the Giants game and will be out for the season. This is a painful blow for the Titans, who already were weak to the pass (22nd in DVOA).
Ryan won't be missed this Saturday against Josh Johnson, but you better believe that Andrew Luck, who has never lost to Marcus Mariota, will pick on Ryan's replacement in a must-win Week 17 battle. That replacement is LeShaun Sims, who is not a very good player, to put it nicely.
This is by no means a death blow for the Titans, who already struggled versus the pass. However, Ryan's absence will make it more difficult to beat the Colts, which is required for them to reach the playoffs.
Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller out for season (wrist surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
The Chiefs may have lost control of the AFC West in the wake of Thursday night's last-second loss to the Chargers. They're still first because of tie-breakers, but one more loss could send them tumbling down to the No. 5 seed. Adding injury to insult, Kendall Fuller is out for the year with a wrist injury.
This is a huge loss. Kansas City doesn't have much talent on defense beyond its pass rush, but Fuller was a rare exception. He was the Chiefs' top cornerback, manning the slot exceptionally well. With Fuller out, Orlando Scandrick will have to move into the slot. He's familiar with playing there, but he'll be less effective than Fuller. Meanwhile, sixth-round rookie Tremon Smith will have to start on the outside in place of Scandrick, which will likely be disastrous. Smith has barely seen any action this year, and for good reason.
This injury won't preclude the Chiefs from winning the Super Bowl, but it'll make things much more difficult, as talented opposing quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck will be able to attack Smith successfully.
Bears CB Bryce Callahan out for season (broken foot): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Bryce Callahan is one of the many reasons the Bears have the best defense in the NFL. The 27-year-old had been enjoying a terrific season as the team's slot cornerback. Unfortunately for the Bears, Callahan broke his foot Sunday night against the Rams and is out for the year.
This is a painful injury for the Bears (and not to mention Callahan.) It now creates a hole at slot corner, which Sherrick McManis will have to fill. McManis performed well in Callahan's absence against the Rams, but he's struggled in the past, so it remains to be seen if he can be a proper replacement. I have my doubts.
As for the Bears' chances going forward, I've written that I believe they can win the Super Bowl if they get a "B" performance from Mitchell Trubisky in the playoffs. I'd say Trubisky now needs to be a B+. That's possible, but as someone who has a 100/1 ticket on the Bears to win the Super Bowl, I worry that Trubisky will ultimately self destruct by constantly throwing off his back foot while trying to keep up with the Saints in a shootout in the divisional round or NFC Championship.
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders out for season (torn Achilles): 9/10 Disaster Rating
This is obviously horrible news for the Broncos. Emmanuel Sanders was Case Keenum's favorite receiver. That's not the case anymore, as Sanders is now out for the year with a torn Achilles.
The Broncos are now down two receivers from the start of the season, as Demaryius Thomas was dealt earlier. Denver is now down to one viable wideout in rookie Courtland Sutton. The lack of experience at the position will be incredibly damaging as the Broncos attempt to make a run at the playoffs.
This would already warrant a high Disaster Grade, but making matters even worse, there's a good chance Sanders won't be 100 percent for the start of next season. A torn Achilles is a tough injury to recover from, and Sanders suffered it in December, so the recovery time will be tight.
Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt sent home/likely to be suspended: 9/10 Disaster Rating
TMZ released a video of Kareem Hunt shoving and kicking a woman in February. The Chiefs sent Hunt home from practice. Hunt will likely be placed on the commissioner's exempt list, and he'll probably face a six-game suspension.
This is horrible news for the Chiefs, who are in Super Bowl contention. Hunt is a dynamic play-maker, and he'll be missed. This will also serve as a distraction. That said, Spencer Ware can be an effective replacement. Ware missed all of 2017 with an injury, but prior to the Hunt selection, Ware was a very productive back. He rushed for 921 yards and caught 33 passes in 2016. He's obviously not nearly as talented as Hunt, but he can be a fine substitute.
Still, this warrants a 7/10 Disaster Grade. The Chiefs lost a special player out of the backfield. It's a tight race for the Super Bowl, so this hit could end up costing Kansas City.
Update: I'm bumping this up to 9/10 in the wake of Hunt's release. Some may think this is the right decision right now, but this is something the Chiefs will regret down the road.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton out for season (thumb): 9/10 Disaster Rating
The Bengals have struggled lately, dropping to 5-6. However, they were set to have A.J. Green and Nick Vigil back from injury soon, which gave them a chance to be competitive down the stretch. That's no longer the case, as Andy Dalton is out for the year with torn ligaments in his thumb.
Jeff Driskel will take over for Dalton. Driskel posted half-decent numbers against Cleveland's prevent defense this past Sunday, but was lucky not to have two interceptions that were dropped. Driskel has a nice arm and good mobility, but his accuracy and football IQ are both pretty poor. He's going to commit lots of turnovers.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade, as Cincinnati's season is over. The only reason this isn't a 10/10 is because this injury won't linger into 2019.
49ers LB Reuben Foster out indefinitely (domestic violence arrest): 9/10 Disaster Rating
This is unbelievable. Reuben Foster was given a reprieve back in April when his first domestic violence charge was dropped. Foster apparently didn't learn his lesson, as he was arrested for the same thing Saturday evening. He's out for Sunday's game and could be done for the rest of the season, at the very least.
Foster is an amazing talent, but he dropped in the 2017 NFL Draft for a reason. Teams were concerned with his off-the-field issues (and his durability), but the 49ers took a chance on him at the end of the opening round. They looked smart last year, but now the pick looks like an utter bust, as Foster could be out of the league for a while if these charges aren't dropped.
This has to be a high rating, as Foster will be missed in the future, particularly next year when the 49ers attempt to make a playoff run with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo. Perhaps Foster will see these charges dropped as well, but considering this is the second time in a short span that he's gotten into trouble for domestic violence, he could be suspended for a long time regardless.
Update: The 49ers have waived Foster, and rightfully so.
Redskins QB Alex Smith out for season (broken leg): 5/10 Disaster Rating
It's amazing that 33 years to the day of Joe Theismann's career-ending compound fracture, Alex Smith broke his leg on another gruesome hit by a future Hall of Fame defensive lineman. Smith is out for the year, and his future in the NFL is in doubt.
I would normally grade season-ending injuries to quarterbacks at 8/10 at the very least, but this one is different. Aside from the injured receiving corps and banged-up interior offensive line, Smith was the weak link on the Redskins. He was a liability for the most part and offered zero hope for a deep playoff run, given his limitations. Colt McCoy, one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL, doesn't seem like much of a downgrade. Like Smith, McCoy is a smart game manager who can pick up first downs with timely scrambles. I'm not sure there will be much of a drop-off.
This will earn a 5/10 Disaster Grade because an injury to McCoy would absolutely crush the Redskins' playoff hopes. There's no insurance policy for him like there was for Smith, so the blocking unit better make sure that he's protected.
Chargers DT Corey Liuget out for season (torn quad): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Several days after seeing their top linebacker, Denzel Perryman, suffer a season-ending injury, the Chargers lost another key member of their front seven. This time, it was Corey Liuget, their best interior defensive lineman.
Liuget's loss isn't as impactful as Perryman's, but this one is important as well. Liuget was good at everything. He stuffed the run well and also applied a good interior pass rush. The Chargers don't have anyone on the roster to replace his production, and it's not a coincidence that the Chargers struggled to stop the Broncos late in the game without him.
If Liuget were the only member of the front seven to get hurt, this would maybe be a 6/10 Disaster Grade, but this just compounds the problems the Chargers have, so I'm increasing this to a 7/10 Disaster Grade.
Chargers LB Denzel Perryman out for season (torn LCL): 8/10 Disaster Rating
Everyone's talking about the Eagles and Rams losing Ronald Darby and Cooper Kupp, respectively, but this was the most devastating season-ending injury that occurred this weekend. The Rams can survive without Kupp, while the Eagles and Jaguars (Brandon Linder) were pretty much cooked already.
The Chargers, on the hand, probably can't overcome this. Denzel Perryman was the heart and soul of the Chargers' defense. He played the run and covered extremely well. His loss will have a profound effect on the defense, which was already missing its best player, Joey Bosa.
The loss of Perryman will likely be the beginning of the end for the Chargers. Unless Bosa can make a miraculous comeback soon, the Chargers will have a horrible defense. With Perryman and Kyzir White out, their linebacking corps is in shambles.
Jaguars C Brandon Linder out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
R.I.P. 2018 Jaguars.
Jacksonville, at 3-6, would have to run the table to reach the playoffs, but it'll have to do so without Brandin Linder. The 26-year-old is one of the better centers in the NFL, and he was the best blocker on the Jaguars' offensive line. Jacksonville will now have to try to win without its left tackle and center.
This is a 7/10 Disaster Grade for this year, but perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Linder's absence will worsen the Jaguars, so more losses will ensue. That means they might have a better chance of landing Justin Herbert in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Eagles CB Ronald Darby out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel for Ronald Darby, who was set to enter free agency for the first time this upcoming offseason. Instead of signing a large contract, he'll be rehabbing his knee. Hopefully he has a swift recovery.
As for the Eagles, this is probably the final nail in the coffin of their repeat Super Bowl aspirations. Already having issues in the secondary, Philadelphia will now be without its top cornerback as it takes on the Saints (Michael Thomas), Giants (Odell Beckham Jr.), Rams (Brandin Cooks) and Texans (DeAndre Hopkins) down the stretch.
This seems worthy of a 7/10 Disaster Grade. The Eagles could still survive somehow if their other injured corners - Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills - return to the field, but if at least one misses extended action as well, the Eagles won't win many more games this season.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Sean McVay told the media that Cooper Kupp's knee injury "didn't look good" following Sunday's victory over Seattle. The Rams' fears were warranted, as Kupp is out for the season with a torn ACL.
The Rams have two other very talented receivers in Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, so they'll survive. Their Super Bowl aspirations are still intact. However, given the Rams' problems on defense, they rely so much on their offense, so if a key cog of their attack is missing, it'll definitely hurt their chances of winning the Lombardi Trophy.
I'm giving this a 6/10 Disaster Grade. Kupp has been Jared Goff's favorite receiver, and given his absence, another injury to a receiver would be devastating. But for now, the Rams are still one of the best teams in the NFL.
Redskins G Brandon Scherff, G Shawn Lauvao, WR Paul Richardson out for season (torn pectoral, torn ACL, shoulder): 8/10 Disaster Rating
The Redskins-Falcons game was a disaster, and I'm not just referring to the five units I lost on Washington. The Redskins suffered countless injuries, as right tackle Morgan Moses got hurt and had to miss some action. That was painful, as left tackle Trent Williams was already out. Making matters worse, guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao, as well as wide receiver Paul Richardson were lost for the season.
Scherff and Lauvao being out for the year means that the Redskins will be down three starters up front until Williams returns to the lineup, while a fourth starter (Moses) plays hurt. This is bad, especially when considering how talented Scherff is. Lauvao is a pedestrian player, but whomever the Redskins fill in for Scherff will be a colossal downgrade. Richardson, meanwhile, further depletes a receiving corps that had already been struggling.
All of this deserves an 8/10 Disaster Grade. The Redskins were in control of the NFC East heading into Week 9, but they'll struggle to get wins in the wake of all of these players going down.
Bengals DE Carl Lawson out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I initially read this as Carlos Dunlap being out for the year, which would've been even worse. Carl Lawson was the Bengal lineman lost for the year with a torn ACL, and that's still very grim news.
Lawson is a terrific edge rusher, and he'll be missed when the Bengals have to battle the Steelers again later in the year. Lawson is just the latest Bengal defender to get hurt, as linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil are injured as well. Cincinnati had trouble defending the middle of the field without Burfict and Vigil, and now its edge rush will be worse.
The one thing that could save the Bengals is that they have decent depth at defensive end, so I'm going to mark this down as a 5/10 Disaster Grade. Dunlap being out, for those wondering, would've warranted a 7/10 or maybe an 8/10.
Texans WR Will Fuller out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Will Fuller was down for a while after drawing a deep pass interference flag late against Miami. He eventually walked off, telling his teammates that he's OK. Apparently not, as Fuller is out for the year with a torn ACL.
This is a huge blow for the Texans, who are so reliant on their deep attack. Fuller provided a downfield threat, so he'll certainly be missed. The Texans have promising rookie Keke Coutee to emerge as Watson's second receiver, but he's not the same sort of player. Houston simply doesn't have anyone to replicate what Fuller provided, so I'm grading this a 6/10.
Eagles DE Derek Barnett out for season (shoulder surgery): 4/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles have been hit by too many injuries this season. Derek Barnett is the latest to go down, as he'll be lost for the year because of shoulder surgery.
Barnett got off to a nice start to the year in the first four weeks, but was banged up after that. Now, the Eagles won't have him at all going forward. The silver lining here is that the Eagles are very deep at defensive end with Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett and Chris Long remaining at the position. Fourth-round rookie Josh Sweat, a promising player, could also see an increase in snaps.
I don't think this is a major loss, considering the Eagles' great depth. However, another injury to an edge rusher could really hurt, so I'm going to make this a 4/10 Disaster Grade.
Broncos QB Chad Kelly arrested: 7/10 Disaster Rating
Chad Kelly, what the hell are you doing? Kelly was arrested and charged for criminal trespassing early Tuesday morning. Kelly was standing outside a residence at 1:17 a.m. and had to be chased away by the occupant. It's unclear what this is all about, but I have some ideas.
Kelly is such a talented quarterback, and he was one poor start from Case Keenum away from taking over as Denver's starting quarterback. I'm not sure if that'll be the case now. The Broncos could decide to give Kelly another chance, but it's also possible that they'll cut him. It's worrying that he hasn't been able to overcome his previous off-the-field issues yet.
I'm giving this a 7/10 Disaster Grade. I like Kelly a lot as a quarterback, but this incident may force John Elway to select another pedestrian quarterback in the NFL Draft rather than try Kelly as the next starter.
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman out for season (groin injury): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Some Atlanta fans may disagree with me on this 0/10 Disaster Grade, but I think this injury is a blessing in disguise. It doesn't have any long-term implications, so this should help the Falcons in the long term.
This is nothing against Freeman, who is an important player in the passing attack because of his superior receiving ability. Plain and simple, the Falcons don't have the tools to compete this year. They've lost way too many players to injury. Their defense is awful, and now some of the offensive players are going down. The Falcons would be better off losing as many games as possible so they can secure one of the top defensive tackles in the 2019 NFL Draft. Atlanta's defense needs someone like Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams, Derrick Brown or Jeffery Simmons. If they win several more games, they'll be out of the running for those prospects, especially if one or more return to school.
Eagles RB Jay Ajayi out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Where did this come from? Jay Ajayi left the Minnesota game temporarily, but returned to action after missing several snaps. Ajayi apparently played on a torn ACL against the Vikings, which would definitely excuse his lost fumble inside the 5-yard line.
Ajayi is done for the year, but I don't think this is a big deal. Running back is one of the least-important positions in the NFL because viable replacements can easily be found, barring exceptions to elite players like Todd Gurley, and Ajayi is certainly not elite. The Eagles are deep at the position with Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, while Darren Sproles will return from injury soon.
I would argue that this injury is far worse for Ajayi than the Eagles. Ajayi is set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason, so he may have to sign a 1-year "prove it" deal as a result of his torn ACL.
Seahawks S Earl Thomas out for season (broken leg): 10/10 Disaster Rating
I usually reserve 10/10 Disaster Grades for injuries to quarterbacks, or situations in which star players will miss multiple seasons (i.e. Ryan Shazier.) Thomas will be back next year from his broken leg, but this still gets a 10/10 for multiple reasons.
Most obviously, the Seahawks are done. They improved to 2-2 with a victory over the Cardinals, so there was a glimmer of hope that they'd be able to challenge for a wild-card spot. That's no longer the case, as Thomas was one of the few remaining star players on the roster. The defense will be substantially worse without Thomas. That is evident.
What pushes this over the top is that the Seahawks wished to trade Thomas, but that will no longer be possible. The Seahawks lost out on at least a second-round pick in a loaded 2019 NFL Draft class, so they'll have to settle for a compensatory third-round choice in 2020 instead. An extra second-rounder in 2019 could've helped Seattle rebuild, but the franchise lost a valuable asset in the wake of this injury.
Titans S Kenny Vaccaro out 2-4 weeks (dislocated elbow): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Titans have a bye in Week 8, so perhaps Kenny Vaccaro will make his return after that. Vaccaro is a talented safety, but will Tennessee need him during the next three games? They won't this Sunday, as they get to battle the Bills. However, things will get more difficult after that, as the Titans will take on the Ravens and Chargers, both of whom can air it out. Vaccaro will be missed, and his absence could cost the Titans a victory.
That said, this will not earn a high Disaster Grade. I think 2/10 makes sense because the Titans are 3-1 and have a nice cushion. Vaccaro will be back before more damage can be done.
Eagles S Rodney McLeod out for the season (torn MCL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Eagles were able to win the Super Bowl last year despite several key players suffering injuries. They'll have to duplicate that feat, as Rodney McLeod is out for the year with a torn MCL.
This is a tough loss. McLeod is a talented safety who had been playing very well this season. Philadelphia has endured some struggles at corner, so losing one of the couple of strengths in the secondary will be difficult.
I don't think this injury will preclude the Eagles from winning the Super Bowl, but I still think this is worth a 5/10 Disaster Grade. We've seen Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick torch Philadelphia thus far, and things will only get worse in that regard without McLeod.
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo out for season (torn ACL): 10/10 Disaster Rating
There's no question that this deserves the maximum Disaster Grade. The 49ers had hopes of making the playoffs, but those are completely gone in the wake of Jimmy Garoppolo's season-ending torn ACL.
This injury is a shame, as Garoppolo will miss a chance to gain more experience as a young quarterback. If there's a silver lining, it's that this injury occurred so early in the year that he should be 100 percent heading into 2019. We also haven't heard anything about any other torn ligaments beyond the ACL, so hopefully the operation goes smoothly and Garoppolo is able to make a quick recovery.
I should note that Richard Sherman will be out for several weeks with a calf injury. That, as well as future injuries for the 49ers that won't impact 2019 will be graded as 0/10. San Francisco won't win many more games with C.J. Beathard, so it's actually in the team's best interest to lose as much as possible so that it can obtain one of the stud defensive linemen from the stellar 2019 NFL Draft class.
Packers DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson out for the season (ankle surgery): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Aaron Rodgers won't be healthy for a while, so for the Packers to make the playoffs, they need most of the other aspects of their team to perform at a high level. Their defensive line was considered a major strength, but that's no longer the case.
Muhammad Wilkerson was once known as one of the top 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL. He signed a big contract with the Jets, then proceeded to slack off. He had to sign a 1-year "prove it" deal with the Packers, and while he wasn't the dominant player he once was, he was performing on a very high level.
With Wilkerson out, the Packers will be even weaker defensively. They still have two studs on their defensive line, but Wilkerson's absence will really be felt in what looks to be a very tight divisional race.
Rams CB Marcus Peters out 2-4 weeks (strained calf): 2/10 Disaster Rating
This is amazing. When Marcus Peters suffered a leg injury, I assumed it was a torn Achilles. He had to be helped off the field, as he couldn't put any pressure on his leg. It looked terrible, so a two- to four-week time table for his injury almost seems like a miracle.
Peters will obviously be missed, especially on Thursday night versus Minnesota's talented receivers. However, with the rest of the NFC West in shambles, the Rams can afford to lose a game or two and still win the division.
You could argue that this could impact home-field advantage, especially if the Vikings are able to prevail on Thursday night as a result of Peters being out. Keep in mind though that the Rams don't have a good home-field advantage, so I'm not sure how relevant that is. I'm giving this a 2/10 Disaster Grade, and that might be a bit high.
Falcons S Ricardo Allen out for season (torn Achilles): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Wow, is anyone still healthy in the Falcons' back seven? Atlanta lost Keanu Neal and Deion Jones in the opening week of the season, and now it'll be without its other safety, Ricardo Allen, who tore his Achilles late versus New Orleans.
This is a huge loss. Allen is a very talented safety and was arguably the best defensive player the Falcons had remaining outside of Grady Jarrett and Desmond Trufant. Atlanta is going to be very soft over the middle of the field without Jones, Neal and now Allen. This is definitely worth a Disaster Grade of 7/10 or so.
The one caveat here is that the Falcons may consider trading for Earl Thomas. Everyone is talking about Thomas going to Dallas, but Thomas played for Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in Seattle when Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator.
Cowboys LB Sean Lee out several weeks (hamstring): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Sean Lee rushed back from a hamstring injury that he suffered on Sunday night versus the Giants. He overcompensated and hurt his other hamstring versus Seattle. He's now expected to miss several weeks.
This is a terrible injury for Dallas, and one that will likely end its season. The Cowboys historically have been far worse defensively without Lee, and that has been the case this year. The Giants' offense finally got moving in Week 2 when Lee left the lineup, and the same could be said of the Seahawks, who had way more success moving the chains in the second half than the early going.
If there's one silver lining, it's that rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will get more snaps. Vander Esch has looked decent in limited action thus far. He doesn't have the awareness and high football IQ that Lee possesses - at least not yet - so he's not a perfect substitute for Lee, but this is exactly why the Cowboys drafted him.
Dolphins DE William Hayes out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The 3-0 Dolphins suffered a setback when they lost William Hayes early against the Raiders. This didn't end up mattering versus Oakland, but Hayes' absence will certainly have an impact going forward.
Hayes wasn't a starter for the Dolphins, but he was a valuable member of Miami's defensive line rotation. He's solid as a pass rusher and even better as a run defender. He'll be missed in tougher matchups where the Dolphins absolutely need to put heat on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing (i.e. next week versus New England.)
I'm giving this a 3/10 Disaster Grade. It's not the end of the world for the Dolphins, but this injury will have an impact.
Giants C Jon Halapio out for season (broken ankle): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Jon Halapio had been doing a solid job as the Giants' center through a game-and-a-half, but broke his ankle Sunday night against the Cowboys. He's out for the year.
If the Giants were a playoff contender, this would be a big deal. However, they appear to be the worst team in the division, so it's in their best interest to lose games. Also, they don't have a viable franchise quarterback on their roster to replace the decrepit Eli Manning next year, so it's not like they have to protect any of their signal-callers. As sad as it is to say, it's actually in the Giants' best interest to have as poor blocking as possible, so that Manning continues to look bad. That will force the front office to replace him, which is something they should've done a couple of years ago.
This is getting a 0/10 Disaster Grade for me, and I'm sure some people on Facebook will joke that I should've given this a negative number because it's a blessing in disguise for New York. Halapio will be 100 percent for 2019, which is the important thing.
Jaguars OT Cam Robinson out for season (torn ACL): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Cam Robinson struggled as a second-round rookie last year, but was showing improvement in his sophomore campaign. Unfortunately, his season has ended because of a torn ACL.
The Jaguars' offense didn't skip much of a beat in the wake of Robinson's injury on Sunday, but the Patriots didn't exactly bring their "A" game to Jacksonville. Replacement left tackle Josh Wells was beaten on several occasions, so the blind side can be considered a liability for Jacksonville going forward. Thus, I'd say this is worth a 6/10 Disaster Grade.
Bengals RB Joe Mixon out 2-3 weeks (knee surgery): 3/10 Disaster Rating
It was initially reported that Joe Mixon would be out closer to two months, but it turns out that he'll miss 2-3 weeks with a knee scope.
Given that Mixon won't be out for too long, the Bengals have to be ecstatic. Mixon has looked great through two games, thanks to his offseason workouts and improved offensive line. Mixon will be missed for sure, especially in tough matchups at Carolina and Atlanta, but the Bengals have a nice safety net with their 2-0 start. They can afford to stumble a bit, especially after defeating their primary rival for the AFC North crown, the Ravens.
I'm giving this a 3/10 Disaster Grade. This could impact Cincinnati's ability to get a first-round bye, but the team won't be missing Mixon for long.
Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves out for season (shoulder): 1/10 Disaster Rating
You have to wonder if this is it for Vernon Hargreaves in Tampa. Hargreaves has been a bust since being selected with the 11th-overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. He struggled as a rookie, then was out for seven games in 2017. Now, he's done for the year with a shoulder injury after just one week of action.
This wouldn't be a big deal if Hargreaves didn't stink, but he has struggled in most games he has played. Thus, I'm giving the Buccaneers a 1/10 Disaster Grade. This only hurts depth, but the Buccaneers have some young, promising corners like Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, who deserve snaps over Hargreaves.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen and OT Daryl Williams out indefinitely (foot, knee): 3/10 and 7/10 Disaster Ratings
I hope what happened to the Panthers serves as a lesson to other NFL teams and players. Greg Olsen and Daryl Williams were considered questionable for Week 1. They opted to gut it out in the season opener, but both aggravated their injuries. Now, because they pushed themselves too much, they'll be out for a long time. Olsen will be evaluated on a monthly basis, while Williams will undergo knee surgery, so he's likely done for the year.
These two injuries obviously hurt the Panthers. Williams seems like the worse one, as he was the top offensive lineman on the roster. The Panthers have no viable replacement for Williams, and they'll struggle mightily to block as a result. Olsen, on the other hand, might not be too bad of a loss. Olsen seemed like he was over the hill already, and Carolina has a promising young tight end in Ian Thomas, a fourth-round rookie. Thomas is very athletic and has high upside, and it could be a blessing in disguise to get him some playing action; if he has experience heading into 2019, that could mean that he'll have a big sophomore campaign. Of course, Thomas could also be a bust, meaning the Panthers would really miss Olsen.
I'd say Olsen has a 3/10 Disaster Grade, while Williams is a 7/10. Cam Newton's protection just got much worse without his great right tackle.
Falcons LB Deion Jones out at least 8 weeks (foot): 7/10 Disaster Rating
A year ago, we saw the Steelers regress from a Super Bowl contender to a one-and-done playoff squad that could barely beat mediocre opponents late in the season because Ryan Shazier suffered a horrible injury. The Falcons could have a similar downfall without Deion Jones.
Jones is one of the top linebackers in the NFL. He's great in every facet, and he's the heart and soul of the Falcons' defense. Atlanta's stop unit will be far worse without Jones, which, combined with the opening-week loss, will make it difficult for the team to reach the playoffs.
If there's any good news, it's that Jones will have a chance to return after eight weeks. By then, however, it could be too late. Replacement Duke Riley isn't horrible, but he's not even close to the player Jones happens to be.
Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin out at least 2-3 weeks (partial MCL tear): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Doug Baldwin partially tore his ACL on Sunday, and that sort of an injury usually carries an absence of 2-3 weeks. They won't have him against the Bears, Cowboys and maybe the Cardinals.
Even though Baldwin could be back by October, this injury is still very significant for the Seahawks, worthy of a 5/10 Disaster Grade. Seattle has a void of talent on its roster, as the team owns just a handful of quality players. Baldwin is one of them, so his absence will really hurt the offense. With a depleted roster, Seattle needs all hands on deck, but if Baldwin is out, the top wideouts become a decrepit Brandon Marshall and an inefficient Tyler Lockett.
Titans TE Delanie Walker out for season (ligament damage, dislocated ankle): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Week 1 didn't go very well for the Titans. One of their top weapons went down with a season-ending injury, and that may not even be the worst news they've heard, as Marcus Mariota could be dealing with a nerve injury in his arm.
Delanie Walker's season-ending injury hurts, however. Walker will be done for the year because of ligament damage and a dislocated ankle. If Mariota ends up being fine, he won't be as effective without his trusted safety valve.
If there's a silver lining, the Titans might have a fine replacement in Jonnu Smith. Chosen in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Jonnu is an athletic player with upside. Perhaps this will spark his development. Smith could also be a bust, however, as he has yet to do anything in the pros, and if he is, it'll be difficult for the Titans to make the playoffs, even if Mariota is 100 percent.
Falcons S Keanu Neal out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Non-contact injuries tend to be the worst, so when Keanu Neal went down with one in the season opener against the Eagles, there was some fear that he would be lost for the season. That has turned out to be the case, as Neal tore his ACL.
Neal is a very talented safety, but I'm only grading this as a 3/10 because the Falcons have a very promising replacement in Damontae Kazee. The fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft thrived in the preseason and performed masterfully against the Eagles. Atlanta's defense won't skip a beat with Kazee replacing Neal.
That said, I don't think this should be below a 3/10 Disaster Grade because the Falcons will be in serious trouble if either Kazee or Ricardo Allen gets hurt. They're OK for now though.
49ers RB Jerick McKinnon out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The 49ers feared the worst when Jerick McKinnon went down with a non-contact injury in Saturday's practice when making a cut. It turns out that their worries were validated, as McKinnon is lost for the season with a torn ACL.
San Francisco paid McKinnon $30 million over four years this offseason, so some may see this as a big loss. I wouldn't agree with that assessment. I always believed McKinnon was an overrated player, and that San Francisco spent way too much money on him. I didn't think McKinnon could handle an entire workload, and that he was just a glorified third-down back. I also don't believe that there's much of a downgrade from McKinnon to the duo of Alfred Morris and Matt Breida.
The 49ers should be fine without McKinnon, though I'll still give this a 3/10 Disaster Grade because another injury to a running back could really deplete depth at the position.
Browns LB Mychal Kendricks out indefinitely (insider trading): 5/10 Disaster Rating
I never imagined that an NFL player would be indicted for insider trading, yet here we are. Mychal Kendricks has gotten into trouble for it, prompting the Browns to release him.
It was puzzling to me why the Browns cut Kendricks so quickly when other NFL teams have retained players who have committed far worse crimes. However, it seems as though general manager John Dorsey was angry that Kendricks lied to him about the situation prior to the two agreeing to a contract back in June. As we've learned, covering stuff up can have dire consequences, and Kendricks has paid the price.
Losing Kendricks definitely hurts the Browns. Here's what I wrote when grading the Kendricks signing as an "A" in June: "The linebacking corps was seen as the weakest link of the stop unit. That won't be the case in the wake of signing Kendricks, who had a phenomenal 2017 campaign with the Eagles. Kendricks is going to offer an instant upgrade for the Browns at a cheap price. This has to be an 'A' grade as a result."
Now, the Browns weren't expected to make the playoffs or anything, but it was believed that they would be way more competitive than usual in 2018. That'll still be the case, but Kendricks' departure creates a void at linebacker. This is a serious loss, but not absolutely crushing, so I'll give the Browns a 5/10 Disaster Grade.
Jaguars WR Marqise Lee out for season (knee): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Marqise Lee suffered an awful-looking knee injury over the weekend, and an MRI has shown ligament damage. He's been placed on injured reserve and will be out for the season.
I was hesitant to even write a Disaster Grade for this injury because I deemed it largely irrelevant, but I've gotten plenty of requests for it, so here we are.
We just saw the Jaguars reach the AFC Championship last year despite losing their No. 1 receiver, Allen Robinson, to a season-ending injury in Week 1. If they could survive without Robinson, they'll be perfectly fine without Lee, who is an inferior player by comparison. Jacksonville has comparable players to receive Lee's targets, such as Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and rookie D.J. Chark. And besides, it's not like they relied on their aerial attack to get them wins. They were always going to achieve victories because of their outstanding defense and potent ground attack; not because of Lee catching five passes for 60 yards each week.
Cowboys C Travis Frederick out indefinitely (Guillain Barre Syndrome): 10/10 Disaster Rating
Travis Frederick is going to be out for a long time with Guillain Barre Syndrome. He may not even play again. This is horrible news, and hopefully Frederick is able to fully recover and return to the field at some point.
Guillain Barre Syndrome is a rare disorder where a body's immune system attacks the nerves. According to a health database, most people make a full recovery from Guillain Barre Syndrome, but it takes a long time, and some individuals can have long-term issues.
This is obviously a 10/10 Disaster Grade. Frederick, in my opinion, was the best center in the NFL. Joe Looney is a capable backup, but he's nowhere near as talented as Frederick, so Dallas' offensive line - and offense as a whole - will take a big hit. This is a crushing blow for the Cowboys' playoff aspirations. That said, Frederick's health is the most important issue, and hopefully he can completely overcome this horrible disease.
Ravens CB Jimmy Smith suspensed for 4 games (personal conduct policy): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Jimmy Smith has been suspended for four games for violating the personal conduct policy. The NFL determined that Smith had a pattern of improper conduct where he threatened and emotionally abused his ex-girlfriend. Smith has since apologized for this.
Despite Smith's issues, the Ravens' secondary won't be as potent without him. Thus, the proper course of action in determining how much Baltimore will miss him is to look at the first four opponents' passing attacks. The Ravens will battle the Bills (Josh Allen), Bengals (Andy Dalton) and Broncos (Case Keenum) to start the year. If that sounds great for Baltimore, you'd be right. However, the fourth game of the season is versus the Steelers. The Ravens will miss Smith as they attempt to cover Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington.
It's only one game, but the result of the Week 4 Baltimore-Pittsburgh affair could determine the winner of the AFC North. Thus, I feel compelled to rate this higher than normal four-game suspensions.
Patriots G Isaiah Wynn out for the season (torn Achilles): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Patriots had two first-round picks, but aren't having good fortune with either so far. Sony Michel has been banged up throughout the summer, and now Isaiah Wynn has been lost for the year with a torn Achilles.
Losing a starting offensive lineman would ordinarily be a big deal, but that's not the case here because Wynn wasn't even slated to start. The primary guards to begin the year were going to be Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. Wynn was going to serve as solid depth and a potential starter toward the end of the year, but his absence won't necessarily hurt the Patriots, who have survived with worse injuries.
I'm giving this a 2/10 Disaster Grade, only because of depth concerns as well as the unlikely possibility that Wynn could feel ramifications from this injury in 2019.
Redskins RB Derrius Guice out for season (torn ACL): 7/10 Disaster Rating
Derrius Guice had a strong preseason debut Thursday night against the Patriots. He had a 33-yard run featuring a spin move and a great stiff-arm on his final carry, though the play was wiped out by a hold. Guice left with a knee injury, though it was initially reported just to be a sprained MCL. Guice was expected to be ready for Week 1. Unfortunately, that's not the case anymore, as he was re-diagnosed with a torn ACL. He's done for 2018.
This is a shame. Guice looked like he was going to have a great rookie campaign. He was head and shoulders above any other running back on the roster, as he already won the starting job. He was going to have the luxury of running behind a terrific offensive line. Now, the Redskins will have to resort to using Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine or whomever else they happen to sign.
I liked the Redskins as a potential playoff sleeper, but I'm less optimistic now. Guice's absence will take away a big threat on offense, so a 7/10 Disaster Grade seems appropriate.
Vikings G Nick Easton likely out for season (herniated disc): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Vikings are having a terrible summer. The most prominent news was the unfortunate passing of offensive line coach Tony Sparano. Now, Minnesota likely lost a starting lineman for the season, as guard Nick Easton needs surgery to repair a herniated disc.
It appears as though the Vikings' offensive line is in shambles. Easton is probably done for 2018; Joe Berger has retired; both Pat Elflein and Mike Remmers are hurt right now; and Sparano is no longer around to get the most out of Minnesota's blockers.
Easton isn't a very good player - he's probably slightly below average - but losing a starter on a line that already had some holes and no longer has its coach is pretty bad. I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade, and it's possible that this number should be higher.
Panthers G Amini Silatolu out for several weeks (torn meniscus): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Surprise, surprise, Amini Silatolu is hurt. Silatolu, a former second-round pick, showed signs of promise early in his career, but that has changed in recent years. Silatolu has played double-digit games just once since his rookie year in 2012. He'll now be out anywhere between 4-8 weeks with a torn meniscus.
The Panthers losing their starting left guard might seem like a big deal after right tackle Daryl Williams suffered an injury as well. However, the Panthers used a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Taylor Moton. The Western Michigan product has plenty of upside, so Silatolu's absence could be a blessing in disguise, as it'll give Ron Rivera an excuse to get Moton into the lineup.
Chiefs S Daniel Sorensen out indefinitely (knee): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Chiefs initially feared that starting safety Daniel Sorensen would be out for the season with a torn ACL, but the injury isn't that bad. Still, Sorensen will be sidelined indefinitely, and it sounds like he won't return until the middle of October at the very earliest.
Sorensen is a sub-par player, so this injury doesn't mean very much. The Chiefs have some guys like Robert Golden or rookie Armani Watts to take over for him. Depth is definitely an issue in the wake of this injury, however. That's the only reason this has earned a 2/10 Disaster Grade and not anything less.
Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley out for the season (torn ACL): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Arizona has lost its "starting" center A.Q. Shipley to a torn ACL on Monday. He'll be out for the season. Center is a very important position, yet Arizona will get just a 1/10 Disaster Grade for this injury.
This Disaster Grade is so low because the front office spent a third-round pick on Michigan's Mason Cole, who was expected to challenge for the job anyway. Shipley has struggled in recent years, so Cole figures to be an upgrade. The only way this hurts Arizona is from a depth perspective, hence why this isn't a 0/10 Disaster Grade.
Packers OT David Bakhtiari and Colts OT Anthony Castonzo out for several weeks (ankle, hamstring): 1/10 Disaster Rating
A pair of franchise left tackles suffered scary-looking leg injuries in practice over the weekend. David Bakhtiari was even carted off the practice field. However, both will only be out for several weeks, and there's a good chance they'll both be on the field for their respective season opener.
Both of these injuries will get a 1/10 Disaster Grade. There's an outside shot one of Bakhtiari or Castonzo's injuries could linger into the first week or two of the regular season - particularly Castonzo's because it's a soft-tissue malady - but it really sounds like they'll be fine once we get to see real NFL action.
Patriots RB Sony Michel out for several weeks (knee): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Sony Michel suffered a knee injury Wednesday and will undergo a procedure. There was worry that he would miss some regular-season action, but newer reports say that he could be ready for Week 1.
It hurts Michel's development that he won't be practicing or playing in the preseason games. His first regular season could get off to a slow start as a result. However, the Patriots have gotten off to middling starts before and have finished on a strong note, and the important thing is that Michel will likely be the primary back in New England's offense in the second half of the year. That's really what matters, which is why I'm giving this just a 1/10 Disaster Grade.
Titans S John Cyprien out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
There have been a lot of injuries thus far in training camp, and Titans safety John Cyprien is the latest victim. Cyprien tore his ACL on Thursday and will be out for the year.
Cyprien is a very talented safety who signed a 4-year, $25 million contract in the spring of 2017. He didn't live up to it last year, as he missed six games and wasn't healthy when he was on the field. He was expected to rebound this year, but now the Titans will have to scramble to find a viable replacement. Unfortunately, one does not exist on the roster.
That said, this earns just a 3/10 Disaster Grade because there are quality replacements available on the open market. As you can see in the NFL Free Agent Safeties page, the Titans could sign one of five players with two or more stars, including Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid. Both would be solid replacements for Cyprien.
Colts G Jack Mewhort announces retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Jack Mewhort got off to a very promising start to his career. His first two seasons were exceptional, and it seemed as though he would be a Pro Bowl guard for years to come. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his career enough for him to call it quits at just 26 years old.
It seemed as though the Colts anticipated that this would happen. They signed Matt Slauson in free agency and then spent two picks in the first couple of rounds in the 2018 NFL Draft on guards (Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson and Auburn's Braden Smith.) Nelson and Slauson were already projected to start at guard, and Smith could compete to play over the latter. Mewhort wasn't even in the picture anymore, as the Colts had no faith in his health. That's why this is a 0/10 Disaster Grade. It's a shame for Mewhort, but the Colts aren't hurt at all by this.
Packers ILB Jake Ryan out for season (torn ACL): 3/10 Disaster Rating
The Packers lost a key member of their linebacking corps Monday, as Jake Ryan will be out for the season with a torn ACL. Despite Ryan being a starter last year, this isn't a huge deal for the Packers.
Ryan was a well-rounded player last year, as his usage increased as the season progressed. He formed a decent tandem with Blake Martinez, so if this were 2017, this injury would be more devastating. However, the Packers spent a third-round pick on Oren Burks to bolster the position. The athletic Vanderbilt product will likely start away, which could be a blessing in disguise because he has more upside than Ryan.
I'm giving the Packers a 3/10 Disaster Grade. This hurts from a depth perspective, but as long as Martinez and Burks remain healthy, Green Bay will likely be fine at linebacker.
Panthers CB Ross Cockrell out indefinitely (broken leg): 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Panthers are not having a fortunate training camp. Days after Daryl Williams suffered a brutal knee injury, cornerback Ross Cockrell broke his leg. It's not clear if Cockrell will be out for the season, but that's certainly a possibility.
Considering that cornerback was already a problematic area for the Panthers, this injury is a big deal. It's not devastating, but it'll hurt Carolina for sure. Cockrell, arguably the best veteran cornerback on the roster, ideally would have started across from James Bradberry, with rookie Donte Jackson in the slot. Now, Kevon Seymour will have to start across from Bradberry, which is horrible because Seymour is an atrocious player.
Panthers OT Daryl Williams out indefinitely (torn MCL, dislocated kneecap): 7/10 Disaster Rating
There was horrible news out of Panthers training camp Saturday, and that was Daryl Williams going down in the morning with a knee injury. It was awful-looking, by all accounts, and Williams was carted off the practice field. It turns out that Williams dislocated his kneecap and tore his MCL. He could be lost for the season. The best case scenario is that he'll return in November, but he won't be 100 percent.
This injury will really hurt Carolina's chances of reaching the playoffs in a very taxing NFC. In the wake of guard Andrew Norwell's departure, Williams was regarded as the best offensive lineman on Carolina's roster. Now, the Panthers' blocking is very poor outside of center Ryan Kalil.
I'm giving the Panthers a 7/10 Disaster Grade. Cam Newton will be able to escape from some sacks, but he'll be under much more pressure in the wake of his injury. The run blocking won't be nearly as potent either. There's plenty of competition in the conference, and now the Panthers could miss the playoffs as a result of Williams getting hurt.
Chargers CB Jason Verrett out for season (torn Achilles): 4/10 Disaster Rating
Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is reportedly out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles during Friday's conditioning test. The Chargers curse strikes again.
This is unfortunate news for the injury-prone Verrett. The talented corner just can't stay healthy, as he's played just five games in 2016 and 2017 combined. In fact, he's played more than only six games just once in his 5-year pro career thus far. It's fair to wonder if his career is over in the wake of this latest injury.
While this sucks for the Chargers, it's not the end of the world because they have three other talented cornerbacks in Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams and Desmond King. They can survive without Verrett, but what this does is make to crucial for those other three corners to stay healthy. An injury to one of them would seriously deplete the secondary, so I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade.
Giants CB Sam Beal out for season (shoulder): 3/10 Disaster Rating
Well, this is disappointing. The Giants used a third-round pick in the supplemental draft on talented cornerback Sam Beal, who was considered a potential opening-round prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft once upon a time. Beal, however, hurt his shoulder in practice Monday and will miss all of 2018.
It's unfortunate that the Giants won't see Beal in real action until next September, but this injury isn't a huge issue. I didn't think Beal would be able to contribute much until the second half of the year because he missed all of the offseason workouts. Plus, this injury has occurred so early that there's no question that he'll be 100 percent heading into 2019, which is what really matters most, given that the Giants were unlikely to be able to make a deep run into the playoffs this season.
Seahawks S Kam Chancellor announces retirement: 9/10 Disaster Rating
Kam Chancellor has announced his retirement on Twitter in the wake of not being cleared by doctors to play again because of his devastating neck injury. Chancellor retires as a four-time Pro Bowler and one of the top players at his position throughout this entire decade.
This is rather upsetting. It's a shame that Chancellor has been robbed of the final 33-40 percent of his career. He turned 30 this offseason, but given that safeties can play at a high level into their mid-30s, Chancellor had 3-5 more seasons of Pro Bowl-caliber play remaining in the tank. The neck injury he suffered in that Thursday night bloodbath versus Arizona has changed that.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade. For reference, a career-ending injury to Russell Wilson would be 10/10, so this is close. Chancellor's absence will make the defense so much worse, especially if Earl Thomas is traded, as expected. The Seahawks are no longer a playoff contender, and they have officially entered rebuilding mode.
Packers RB Aaron Jones and Rams G Jamon Brown suspended 2 games (substance abuse policy): 0/10 Disaster Rating
Both Packers running back Aaron Jones and Rams guard Jamon Brown have both been suspended for two games for violating the substance abuse policy. I thought I'd group them together because they're both getting the same Disaster Grade from me, which is a 0/10.
Jones is the best running back on Green Bay's roster, but it sounded like Jamaal Williams was going to get the starts anyway. Williams and Ty Montgomery can hold down the fort just fine for two contests. Brown, meanwhile, is a starting guard for the Rams, but he's the worst blocker on the team's front. There's no downgrade from him to Austin Blythe.
49ers LB Reuben Foster suspended for 2 games (personal conduct): 4/10 Disaster Rating
If you were to tell any 49er personnel man or fan four months ago that Reuben Foster would be suspended for only two games despite all of the allegations against him, they would've taken it in a heart beat. Foster will miss the season opener at Minnesota, as well as the 49ers' home debut versus the Lions, but that's it.
Despite this suspension being two games, it's a big deal. The Week 1 battle in Minnesota figures to be a very difficult one, and Foster's absence could be the difference between a win and a loss. The Detroit contest could also be problematic without Foster, as Matthew Stafford tends to feast on defenses that have poor linebacking corps.
I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade. It's quite possible that the 49ers will be 0-2 rather than 2-0 because of Foster's suspension. The good news is that Foster will be back Week 3 for another tough matchup versus the Chiefs.
Eagles LB Nigel Bradham suspended for 1 game (personal conduct): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Nigel Bradham has been suspended for the season opener because of an aggravated battery arrest from back in 2016. It's a bummer for the Eagles that they won't have him in a tough matchup against the Falcons, but the good news is that Bradham will return 10 days later against the Buccaneers.
Given that the Eagles nearly lost to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, Bradham's absence could be the deciding factor against Atlanta this time around. The Eagles could lose because of this, and the defeat might mean they won't have home-field advantage in the playoffs once again.
With that in mind, this has to be a non-zero number for the Disaster Grade. Conversely, it can't be above something like 2/10 because Bradham will be out for only one game, and Jordan Hicks will be back to pick up the slack.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston suspended for 3 games (personal conduct): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Jameis Winston has been suspended for three games, stemming from an incident with an Uber driver where he allegedly groped her. This occurred back in March 2016, yet Winston is finally being penalized for it now.
Call me crazy, but I don't think this is a big deal for this season. Maybe I feel that way because I know that Winston has been doing shady things off the field during this spring, which is why I recently predicted that Tampa would have the worst record in the NFL in 2018. With that in mind, I gave the Buccaneers a very little chance of beating the Saints, Eagles and Steelers. They were pretty much guaranteed to lose the first two games. Pittsburgh was a possibility for a win, but I don't think it's out of the question that Ryan Fitzpatrick could beat the Steelers. Fitzpatrick is one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and I don't think there's much of a drop-off between Winston and Fitzpatrick when you factor in Winston's off-field problems.
I'm giving this a 5/10 Disaster Grade. It's really a 0/10 for this season - the Buccaneers are definitely not making the playoffs anyway - but the 5/10 is more of a long-term concern. Winston needs to grow up before he knocks himself out of the NFL, much like another former first-round Tampa quarterback who also endured off-field issues, Josh Freeman.
Cowboys DT David Irving suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 6/10 Disaster Rating This is painful for the Cowboys, as it'll definitely harm their chances of repeating as divisional champions. Irving was the team's top defensive lineman last year, as he was the only player who generated a consistent pass rush. He was particularly dominant down the stretch, and at only 23 (24 in August), it seemed like he would take a big step forward in 2017. He'll have to wait until Week 5 to showcase his talents, however.
I wrote this last year - June 28, to be exact - yet it's happened again. Irving has been slapped with a four-game ban for PEDs. I gave the Cowboys a 4/10 Disaster Grade for it then, but I'm bumping it up to a 6/10. It's not that their initial four games are more difficult this year - they're guaranteed to be an underdog at Carolina and Seattle, but that's it - but there's less margin for error in the wake of the Dez Bryant and Jason Witten departures. Dallas' offense won't be as potent in 2018, so the defense will be asked to handle more of a responsibility. Irving's absence will be a blow for sure, and it could turn a potential 2-2 or 3-1 start into a 1-3 opening quarter of the season.
Furthermore, this is a bad sign that Irving can't stay out of trouble. If he doesn't grow up, he could find himself missing many more games.
Browns CB Howard Wilson out for season (torn patellar tendon): 0/10 Disaster Rating
This is a shame. Howard Wilson, a fourth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, missed his entire rookie campaign with a fractured knee cap. He was set to make his debut this year, but he won't be doing that anytime soon because he tore his patellar tendon and will miss all of 2018 as a result.
The Browns are getting a 0/10 Disaster Grade for this because Wilson was set to just be the fifth cornerback on the roster behind Denzel Ward, T.J. Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. However, this is a 10/10 Disaster Grade for Wilson himself. A torn patellar tendon is extremely difficult to come back from; in fact, only a handful of players have performed well following that devastating injury. Wilson may never seen action in a professional game as a result, which really sucks for him.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman facing four-game suspension (PEDs): 1/10 Disaster Rating
Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension for violating the PED policy. Edelman is appealing, so there's a chance he could win. We'll know the results in the coming days.
That said, if the suspension is upheld, it's not a big deal at all. It's not like Edelman will be missed for the entire year, like he was in 2017. The Patriots were able to advance to the Super Bowl without Edelman last season, so they'll be fine without him for just four games. I know that Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks are gone, but Tom Brady still has Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, the promising Malcolm Mitchell and Jordan Matthews to throw to. The only way this possible suspension matters is if the Patriots suffer numerous injuries at receiver prior to the season opener.
Chargers TE Hunter Henry out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Paging Antonio Gates! Hunter Henry tore his ACL and will be lost for 2018. This is a harmful blow for the Chargers, who were counting on Henry to be a big part of the offense this upcoming season. Henry had great potential as an athletic, 23-year-old tight end entering his third season, but now Charger fans won't see him again until 2019.
This is a 5/10 on the Disaster Grade scale. Henry's absence will be impactful, but I don't think it'll ruin the Chargers' chances of making the playoffs. A major part of that reason is Antonio Gates' availability in free agency. The Chargers were willing to let go of Gates because of Henry, but they can now re-sign him for one more year. Also, we recently saw the Patriots win the Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski, as tight end isn't exactly the most important position. It's worth noting that Henry's injury occurred so early that he'll be 100 percent by training camp next summer.
Eagles LB Paul Worrilow out for season (torn ACL): 1/10 Disaster Rating
To quote Adam Sandler's character in the Wedding Singer, "Things that could've been brought to my attention yesterday!" This is poor timing, as Worrilow was lost for the year on the same day the Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks. Philadelphia now has some desperate need for linebacking help.
That said, this is just a 1/10 Disaster Grade. Worrilow ideally was going to provide decent depth, but he would not have been a viable starter in the wake of Kendricks' release. It should be easy to replace him, as there are some decent linebackers available, which you can see in the NFL Free Agent Linebacker Rankings.
Saints RB Mark Ingram suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 1/10 Disaster Rating
You have to feel for Mark Ingram, who needed to be in the best physical shape possible to warrant touches in the Saints' offense. He and Alvin Kamara split the work last year, but the latter was expected to shoulder more of a workload in 2018. Perhaps this was the reason Ingram was flagged for PEDs, prompting the four-game suspension.
This sucks for Ingram, but it's not a big deal for the Saints. Kamara, as mentioned, will be the featured back this upcoming season, so Ingram was set to see less of a workload. This suspension only matters if Kamara gets hurt as well. If that happens, the Saints will have to rotate Trey Edmunds, Jonathan Williams and Boston Scott.
Cowboys TE Jason Witten announces retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Jason Witten didn't exactly pick the best time to inform the Cowboys that he would retire. Dallas will now have to scurry to delve deeper into tight end prospects, though I'm not sure this decision will necessarily change their plans for what they will do on Day 2.
Witten has been a great tight end throughout his career, and he'll be in the Hall of Fame one day for certain. However, this isn't a big deal. Witten turns 36 in May, and he had already been slowing down as a receiver. He was still a strong blocker, but he was definitely in decline. The only reason this isn't a 0/10 Disaster Grade is because the Cowboys will miss Witten's leadership in the locker room.
Eagles CB Daryl Worley arrested: 1/10 Disaster Rating
Daryl Worley was arrested Sunday morning when police found him inside a vehicle blocking the highway. Worley was then "combative" with the officers and had to be tasered. Worley is expected to be released in the wake of this arrest, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Eagles seemingly won a trade with the Panthers this offseason when they acquired Worley for Torrey Smith. However, this was because Philadelphia was able to get rid of Smith's bad contract; not because it acquired Worley. The West Virginia product played well as a rookie in 2016, but was awful last year. A former third-round pick, Worley was seen as having potential, but apparently not.
This arrest and potential subsequent release is not a big deal at all. It's a 1/10 Disaster Grade at the very most. It'll only affect depth, but the Eagles can just spend a third-day pick on a cornerback to fix that.
Bills G Richie Incognito announces retirement: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Richie Incognito's career would be viewed more favorably if it weren't for his involvement in "Bullygate," but he will absolutely be missed. He's been an important member of Buffalo's offensive line the past three seasons, and his absence will be a tough one to fill, especially considering the circumstances.
Buffalo's blocking unit is in shambles right now. Center Eric Wood retired earlier in the offseason, while Cordy Glenn was traded as well. Aside from promising left tackle Dion Dawkins, the Bills don't have a viable starter up front, which has to be a huge concern, given that Buffalo is set to trade assets to move up for a quarterback. Perhaps this will force the team into starting A.J. McCarron for the entire 2018 season, as getting a rookie signal-caller murdered behind a poor blocking group doesn't sound like the best idea.
Panthers LB Thomas Davis suspended for four games (PED ban): 2/10 Disaster Rating
I gave the Bengals a 6/10 Disaster Grade for Vontaze Burfict's suspension. That's because Burfict being gone for four weeks could derail Cincinnati's season. Thomas Davis, on the other hand, doesn't have the same sort of impact.
This is a 2/10 Disaster Grade at the most. This would've been higher several seasons ago, but Davis, now 35, is a declining player. He's still decent, but he's no longer a dominant defender. The Panthers were even considering decreasing his snaps in favor of Shaq Thompson this year, so this will help expedite that process. I don't really think Davis' four-game absence will have any sort of impact on Carolina's 2018 record.
Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict suspended for four games (PED ban): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Thomas Davis has been suspended today - I'll get to that Disaster Grade in a bit - and that reminded me that I forgot to write something up for Vontaze Burfict's ban.
Burfict is an incredibly important player for the Bengals. Here's proof: In the past two seasons, the Bengals are 3-8 when Burfict misses action. They are 10-10-1 otherwise. Burfict is one of the most talented linebackers in the NFL, so it's understandable why Cincinnati would have such a huge rate of failure in his absence.
I'm grading this as a 6/10. Depending on their schedule, the Bengals could conceivably begin 0-4 without Burfict. The only good news is that this is "only" four games, so if Cincinnati can start 1-3, the team can rebound once Burfict returns.
Eagles DE Michael Bennett arrested: 0/10 or 6/10 Disaster Rating
I have to copy-paste Adam Schefter's tweet here so I don't incorrectly type anything about this report:
"District Attorney of Harris County, Texas announced it has indicted Eagles' DE Michael Bennett for felony charge for injuring a 66-year-old paraplegic working at NRG Stadium to control access to field at SuperBowl LI. A warrant has been issued for Bennet's arrest."
It's unclear how the Eagles will respond to this, or if Bennett will see a suspension at all. Bennett is in trouble for knocking over a 66-year-old woman in a wheelchair, but that it may or may not have been incidental. The report in question says that following the game, Bennett shoved his way to the field where players were gathering to celebrate. The woman told him he had to use a different entrance for field access. He didn't listen, and he pushed through the security team, including the paraplegic woman.
This doesn't sound like it was done with malice, and that a frustrated Bennett didn't mean to knock the woman over, which makes me wonder why he's getting a felony charge. The report continues...
"The charge, injury to the elderly, includes intentionally and knowingly, causing bodily injury to a person 65 years or older. It carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine."
Wow. Bennett's legal team will obviously try to prove that he didn't intentionally and knowingly cause bodily injury to the woman, so we'll see what happens. I'm wondering why the NFL has a 66-year-old paraplegic working to control access to the field in the Super Bowl in the first place. I think that's probably the most confusing part of the story.
Depending on what transpires legally, this may not have any impact on the Eagles' season, hence the 0/10 Disaster Grade. However, if Bennett is suspended and/or the Eagles cut him, this Disaster Grade should be a 6/10. With Vinny Curry gone, Bennett was set to become a crucial piece of Philadelphia's defensive line. The Eagles can still win a Super Bowl without Bennett, but it'll be much harder to repeat without him.
49ers ILB Reuben Foster arrested: 7/10 Disaster Rating
There were a couple of reasons why Reuben Foster slipped to the end of the first round last year. Injury concerns certainly played a part, but his character issues were seen as problematic as well.
Both of these items have been factors thus far in Foster's pro career. Foster missed six games as a rookie, and he's now getting into trouble. He's been arrested twice this month. The first arrest wasn't a big deal, as it was just marijuana possession, but this one is worse, as Foster has been booked on charges related to domestic violence and the possession of an assault rifle.
It's likely that Foster will be suspended for a few games. It's very troubling that he's been arrested twice in the 10 months he's been in the NFL. The next time he has legal issues - and there's no reason to believe things will change - Foster could be banned for many more games. It's a bad trend that really has to worry San Francisco's front office and coaching staff.
Update: Details have come out about Foster's second arrest. He's been accused of physically dragging his girlfriend during an argument, and that she was injured. Foster also owns multiple semiautomatic rifles. This looks terrible, and if everything Foster is accused of is true, the 49ers need to consider cutting him. At the very least, it seems like he'll be suspended for six games.
Colts HC Josh McDaniels has decided not to take the head-coaching job: 5/10 or 9/10 Disaster Rating
It was widely reported that the Colts hired Josh McDaniels on Tuesday morning. I posted my grade for the Colts hiring Josh McDaniels here. Now, news has broken that McDaniels has opted not to go to Indianapolis, and he will remain New England's offensive coordinator.
To me, I think this means one of three things happened:
1. McDaniels was told that Bill Belichick will retire soon, which will give him the opportunity to take over as head coach of the Patriots.
2. McDaniels learned that Andrew Luck's health is much worse than what has been reported.
3. McDaniels realized that he cannot work with Jim Irsay.
All of these scenarios are bad for the Colts, especially No. 2. If it's the second item, this Disaster Grade has to be a 9/10. Otherwise, I'd say it's a 5/10. I thought McDaniels would be a great hire, as he would get the most out of Luck. Now, Indianapolis has to start its head-coaching search from scratch, as all of the top candidates are gone. It's going to be tough for the team to find someone quickly, and it'll be even more difficult for the new coach to come in and assemble his staff by the combine, which is in three weeks.
Bills C Eric Wood announces retirement: 4/10 Disaster Rating
Eric Wood's career is over because of a horrible neck injury. It's a shame that he's forced into retirement at the age of 32 (in March), as he would've had several quality seasons remaining in the tank otherwise.
That said, Wood had been on the decline recently because of a variety of injuries. Wood used to be one of the better centers in the NFL, but that hasn't been the case the past two years.
Still, it hurts to lose Wood. He was still a solid player, and he happened to be a leader in the locker room. Ryan Groy, who isn't horrible, is Wood's replacement, but the Bills likely will look to draft a replacement. Here are the 2018 NFL Draft Center Prospect Rankings.
Jets WR Robby Anderson arrested: 5/10 Disaster Rating
I was going to do a write-up on Marlon Humphrey being arrested for third-degree robbery, but it was revealed that it was just a disagreement over a phone charger. We'll see what happens, and perhaps I'll have a Disaster Grade for it if the situation warrants it. Perhaps it'll all just blow over.
Meanwhile, I remembered that I didn't provide a Disaster Grade for Robby Anderson's arrest. What Anderson did was much more serious. He was charged with hard to a public servant, reckless driving, eluding police and resisting arrest. According to reports, Anderson was driving 60 mph over the speed limit and then threatened the police officer's wife once he was finally stopped. This was the second time Anderson was arrested since joining the Jets.
It doesn't sound like Anderson will be released, but he could be facing a suspension of some sort. He's the Jets' best downfield play-maker, so his absence will hurt the development of their new quarterback. Also, if Anderson is arrested again, he'll almost certainly be released. Hopefully Anderson turns his life around. This is a dire situation for New York, worthy of a 5/10 Disaster Grade.
Titans OT Jack Conklin tears ACL: 5/10 Disaster Rating
We saw how important Jack Conklin was to Tennessee's offense in the divisional-round blowout at New England. The Titans couldn't pass protect at all, and they scored just seven points in meaningful action as a consequence.
The Titans may have to get used to this because Conklin tore his ACL. Had Conklin suffered this injury in September or October, he'd certainly be fine for training camp, but a January ligament tear will be difficult to come back from. Conklin will almost definitely miss training camp, and he could be sidelined for the first few games of 2018. Perhaps he'll even be placed on the PUP list.
If there's a silver lining, it's that the Titans should have Conklin during the second half of the season. However, considering they're in a very competitive AFC South, not having Conklin's services could knock them out of playoff contention before he returns.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer announces retirement: 3/10 Disaster Rating
After 15 years of playing in the NFL, Carson Palmer has announced his retirement. Palmer finishes his career with 46,247 passing yards and 294 touchdowns.
While Palmer had previously performed on a high level, that wasn't the case the past two seasons. Palmer had struggled in 2016 and half of 2017 before getting knocked out with a season-ending injury. The Cardinals had to move on from Palmer anyway, so this could be a blessing in disguise.
So, why is there any sort of Disaster Grade? Well, with Bruce Arians and Palmer retiring, that could coax Larry Fitzgerald to do the same. Fitzgerald can still perform on a high level, so it would not be good if he opted to follow suit. Then again, it may not make a difference, so Arizona fans shouldn't be panicking right now.
Cardinals HC Bruce Arians announces retirement: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Bruce Arians was once considered one of the top head coaches in the NFL. His effectiveness slipped this year, as evidenced by some curious decision-making he made in some of the games. However, he was still very good, and his team played hard for him each week. He'll be missed for sure.
This Disaster Grade really depends on whom the Cardinals find to replace Arians. If it's someone terrible like Jeff Fisher, this Disaster Grade will skyrocket to 9/10. However, if the Cardinals can find a young, sharp, offensive-minded coach to replace Arians and coach up the signal-caller they acquire this offseason, this Disaster Grade will decrease substantially. I think a 6/10 makes sense for now, as the Cardinals had a chance to bounce back and make the playoffs with Arians in 2018 if they didn't suffer the massive amounts of injuries they sustained this past season.