This is a new feature where I'll list Disaster Ratings (one being the least problematic, to 10 being code red) for NFL teams involving offseason retirements and injuries. With some of the recent players going down or calling it quits, I thought it would be nice to have a new section where I can discuss and rate everything.
Chargers WR Mike Williams out for season (back surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
The Chargers are in a new city, but they apparently have the same injury woes. The latest player to get hurt is seventh-overall rookie Mike Williams, who, according to Adam Schefter, is likely out for the year because he needs back surgery.
It goes without saying that this is absolutely brutal for the Chargers, a team that has sustained countless injuries over the past several seasons. It's tough to blame this one on the training staff, but it's unfortunate nonetheless. Williams was expected to be a big-time end-zone threat for Philip Rivers across from Keenan Allen. With Williams and Allen, as well as Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates at tight end and Melvin Gordon in the backfield, the Chargers were seen as having one of the best offensive arsenals in the league. They still have plenty of talent, but Williams' absence will hurt.
Of course, the bigger concern for Williams is the future. Back surgery is nothing to scoff at, and it could be possible that Williams will never be 100 percent because of his ailing back. That would be a shame, though also par for the course for the Chargers. Long-term effects is why I'm giving this a 7/10 Disaster Grade.
Jaguars DE Dante Fowler arrested: 2/10 Disaster Rating
Dante Fowler has been a disappointment as an NFL player thus far, as the Jaguars have gotten nothing out of him. Fowler missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL, and he was horrible last year. Now, Fowler has just been arrested for the second time in 16 months.
Fowler was charged with assault in March 2016, though he had the charge dropped. Now, he's been slapped with simple battery for hitting a man with glasses and then stepping on them. While Fowler isn't likely to receive a lengthy suspension from knocking out Steve Urkel, it's troubling that he continues to show a great deal of immaturity. Fowler's work ethic has also come into question, and it appears as though the 23-year-old (in August) just doesn't get it. Fortunately for the Jaguars, they have a more promising player at the position in Yannick Ngakoue; not to mention third-round rookie Dawuane Smoot.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott involved in altercation: 1/10 Disaster Rating
TMZ has reported that a witness saw Ezekiel Elliott punch a man at a bar Sunday night. The man suffered a broken nose. It must be noted that there is no video of this, and the witness was reportedly intoxicated. No charges were filed.
People were making a big deal out of this on Twitter, with some even complaining that Elliott still has a job in the NFL, while Colin Kaepernick doesn't. Equating the two doesn't make any sense. Never mind the massive talent disparity; it's not even clear if Elliott has ever done anything wrong. Elliott is being investigated for some domestic abuse charges, but he's never been found guilty of anything yet. And it's obviously unclear if he was the one who punched the man in this instance.
This is a 1/10 Disaster Grade at best. I'd say a 0/10, but it's troubling that Elliott continues to put himself in these bad situations. He really needs to evaluate whom he hangs out with before he actually gets into trouble.
Cowboys DT David Irving suspended for 4 games (PEDs): 4/10 Disaster Rating
It was reported in May that David Irving would be facing a possible four-game suspension. Well, it's official now, as Irving will be banned for a quarter of the upcoming season.
This is painful for the Cowboys, as it'll definitely harm their chances of repeating as divisional champions. Irving was the team's top defensive lineman last year, as he was the only player who generated a consistent pass rush. He was particularly dominant down the stretch, and at only 23 (24 in August), it seemed like he would take a big step forward in 2017. He'll have to wait until Week 5 to showcase his talents, however.
If there's a silver lining here, it's that the Cowboys' first four games are winnable, even without Irving; they play the Giants (home), Broncos (road), Cardinals (road) and Rams (home). None of those teams seem particularly strong. However, there's definitely a chance Dallas gets tripped up in at least one of those contests. Given that the Cowboys are expected to be in a very tight divisional race with the Eagles, one loss could make all the difference.
Saints DT Nick Fairley likely out for season (heart condition): 7/10 Disaster Rating
There's been some dubious news out of New Orleans, as Nick Fairley's future is in doubt. He's dealing with a heart condition, and one doctor said he might have to retire.
If the doctor is right, this is obviously horrible news for Fairley, who obviously needs to do what's in his best interest. He's getting opinions from other doctors, but it's sounding like he could walk away from the game forever.
As for the Saints, this would be a painful loss worthy of a 7/10 Disaster Grade. Fairley was their best interior defender last year. Sheldon Rankins is expected to improve if he's healthy next season, but New Orleans thought enough of Fairley to give him a 4-year, $28 million contract this offseason. The Saints made some improvements to their defense this spring, but all of their hard work could be for naught because they'll be missing a key member of their stop unit if Fairley has to retire.
Update: Fairley has been placed on the reserve/NFI list, meaning he's likely to miss all of 2017. His career could also be over. This is obviously a huge blow, as the Saints lost their top interior presence on what happens to be a poor defense. It also obviously sucks for Fairley, so hopefully his condition isn't as dire as it sounds.
Saints OT Terron Armstead out 4-6 months (torn labrum): 6/10 Disaster Rating
Two prominent left tackles are out for 4-6 months with the same exact injury. Terron Armstead joins Detroit's Taylor Decker in being sidelined with a torn labrum.
This is obviously horrible news for the Saints. Armstead is extremely talented. It could crush whatever playoff hopes they had, though this Disaster Grade of 6/10 is slightly lower than Detroit's 7/10. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, Armstead being hurt is hardly a surprise. Armstead has never played a full NFL season, as he was on the field for just seven contests in 2016. Second, New Orleans prepared for this, selecting Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. It's unclear how well Ramczyk will play, but there is at least some hope that he'll be a capable replacement, as at least one team saw him as a first-round talent. And third, Drew Brees hates interior pressure much more than heat off the edge. Losing Max Unger for 4-6 months would be more devastating, though it's worth noting that Unger is hurt as well.
Lions OT Taylor Decker out 4-6 months (shoulder surgery): 7/10 Disaster Rating
The Lions had a ton of optimism coming out of free agency and the draft. They seemed like they owned one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, which is crucial in the post-CBA football world. Unfortunately for them, their blocking unit took a hit when it was announced that Taylor Decker would have shoulder surgery.
Decker, the team's left tackle, had an amazing rookie campaign in 2016 and was expected to be even better this upcoming season. That almost certainly won't be the case now, as it's unclear when Decker will return to action. Jim Caldwell wouldn't commit to Decker being ready for the season opener.
Decker's timetable is shrouded in mystery right now, so it's difficult to assign a particular Disaster Grade. If he misses one or two games, this will be a 4/10, as his absence will likely result in losses to the Cardinals and Giants, both of whom possess terrific edge rushers. If, however, Decker is out for close to half the season, the Lions can probably kiss their playoff aspirations goodbye.
Update: Decker is out 4-6 months, making this a 7/10 Disaster Grade at the very least. I even considered bumping this up to an 8/10, but there's a chance (albeit a slight one) Decker could return in early October. Decker's absence will create a huge hole at left tackle, making Detroit's offense far less potent. I liked the Lions to perhaps make a deep run into the playoffs, but not anymore. They may fail to qualify for the postseason now with Decker out for at least half of 2017.
Jets cut ILB David Harris: 0/10 Disaster Rating
I like to look at instant reactions to things like this on Twitter to gauge what fans are thinking. Some responses to David Harris' release from Jets fans were, "This makes no sense!" and "We're going to be horrible now!" Well, that apparently seems to be the plan.
The Jets appear to be in full tank mode, 76ers style. They've gutted their roster and appear to be on track to having the worst record in the NFL this season. That's a great thing in this instance, as Sam Darnold is projected to be the top pick next April (here's my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.) Landing Darnold would be enormous for the Jets, and even Wyoming's Josh Allen wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. Missing out on either would be devastating, so the Jets are doing well to making sure that doesn't happen.
This is a 0/10 Disaster Grade. Harris is 33, so he doesn't have much time left in the NFL. By the time the Jets are competitive again, he wouldn't have been on the team anyway, so it's a nice move to let a veteran like this have a shot at winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, Raiders, Packers, etc.
Chiefs cut WR Jeremy Maclin: 4/10 Disaster Rating
This release doesn't make much sense. Jeremy Maclin, at 29, is still a passable No. 1 receiver at this stage of his career. He struggled last year, but only because he dealt with injuries. He was looking healthy at OTAs, so he was bound to bounce back with a strong 2017 campaign. Maclin's release saves $10 million, but also creates $7.2 million in dead money over the next two seasons.
The Chiefs qualified for the playoffs with Maclin struggling last year, so they can get back to the postseason without him. However, their potential for advancing deep into January is very limited without him. The only capable receiver left on the roster is Tyreek Hill, and he's far from being a finished product. Plus, if Patrick Mahomes has to take over in the event of an injury to Alex Smith, it'll hurt if the rookie quarterback won't have a legitimate No. 1 wideout at his disposal.
I think this is a 4 or a 5 on the Disaster Rating scale. It's not a killer, as the Chiefs could still make the playoffs, but their upside is more capped now than it already was with Smith.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta out for season (fractured hip): 2/10 Disaster Rating
The Ravens have lost two players in as many days. Tavon Young suffered a torn ACL yesterday, and now Dennis Pitta fractured and dislocated his hip for the third time in his career. He's done for the year, and he may never play again.
Though Pitta suffered a more severe injury than Young, this Disaster Grade isn't nearly as high. Pitta caught 86 passes last season, but the Ravens are deep at tight end. Ben Watson is coming back from injury, while Crockett Gillmore is a steady player. Maxx Williams still has potential. If none of these players are particularly promising, the Ravens could always sign Gary Barnidge, who would actually be an upgrade over Pitta.
Ravens CB Tavon Young out for season (torn ACL): 5/10 Disaster Rating
And so it begins again. The Ravens have suffered through more injuries than most teams over the past couple of seasons, and it appears as though history is repeating itself. Tavon Young is out for the year with a torn ACL after bumping into another player during practice.
This is a tough loss for the Ravens, but it's not an overly painful one. Young is a good player - he had a great rookie campaign this past season as the team's slot cornerback - but Baltimore is pretty set at the position. The Ravens signed Brandon Carr and drafted Marlon Humphrey in the first round this offseason, so they're pretty deep there and can sustain a loss like Young's. That said, Carr has had an up-and-down career, and Humphrey is an unknown because he's never played in the NFL. If both struggle in 2017, the Ravens will really wish they had Young.
Colts S Clayton Geathers uncertain for Week 1 (neck): 1/10 to 5/10 Disaster Rating
Clayton Geathers may not be a household name, but he's a talented, young safety who was expected to take a leap forward this season next to Malik Hooker. Geathers, just 25 (on June 1), performed well last year, and he and Hooker could make for a stellar safety tandem in 2017.
However, there's some concern with Geathers' availability in Week 1. He has a neck injury that required surgery, and issues of that sort can always be tricky to recover from.
If Geathers misses the first few games this season, it actually won't be a big deal. Four of Indianapolis' first five opponents are the Rams, Cardinals, Browns and 49ers, and those teams feature terrible, sub-par, or rapidly declining quarterbacks. So, the Colts can survive without Geathers until Week 6, when their schedule starts becoming more difficult as far as defending the pass is concerned. That said, Geathers will really be missed if he's out for most or all of the 2017 season. Hence, the wide range in this Disaster Grade.
Bengals TE Tyler Eifert unsure if he'll be ready for training camp (back surgery): 2/10 to 6/10 Disaster Rating
Tyler Eifert was on the field for only eight games last season, and it appears as though he could be in danger of missing more action in 2017. Eifert, coming off back surgery, said he wasn't sure if he would be ready for training camp.
This is potentially horrible news, as Cincinnati's offense struggled immensely without Eifert last year. The Bengals did add some firepower in John Ross and Joe Mixon, but Eifert is Andy Dalton's preferred red-zone target, so the Bengals' scoring attack would definitely take a hit if Eifert were to miss more games this upcoming season.
I'm treating this similarly to the Mike Pouncey grade below. Perhaps Eifert will return in the middle of training camp, and everything will be all right. However, there's also a chance that he won't be 100 percent for the entire season. Eifert is not durable at all - he has missed 26 games the past three years - and back surgery is no laughing matter. Even if he makes it back to the field, he may not be quite himself.
Dolphins C Mike Pouncey injured (hip): 2/10 to 6/10 Disaster Rating
Mike Pouncey is one of the better centers in the NFL when healthy, but he has had trouble staying on the field. Pouncey played in just five contests last year and hasn't been on the field for the entire season since 2012. It appears as though that tradition will continue, as Pouncey reportedly could sit out the preseason with a troublesome hip injury. This problem could leak into the regular season, whether that's Pouncey being limited or completely out.
This is a huge deal. Center is arguably the second-most-important position in the NFL, and Pouncey is the key to Miami's offense. If you want proof, the Dolphins were 4-1 last year with Pouncey on the field, with the sole loss happening during the Hurricane Matthew distraction. In the other four games, the Dolphins averaged 29 points. In the Pouncey-less contests, Miami was 6-5, averaging 20.9 points.
It's hard to judge this Disaster Grade because it's unknown how severe this injury is. However, given that the Dolphins already fear that Pouncey could be out throughout the entire preseason, it's likely that he won't be healthy come September. If he misses a fair amount of games, this is a 6/10 Disaster Grade. However, if Pouncey is just dinged up early on and healthy by Weeks 3 or 4, this isn't a huge deal.
Rams Stadium Delayed One Year: 5/10 Disaster Rating
If you ask most people, they would've said that they thought moving one team to Los Angeles was an idiotic idea, given that the city had never supported professional football. Despite this, the league re-located two teams to Los Angeles, with the hope of generating revenue from a large TV market and a new stadium. Well, that new stadium has been delayed until 2020, thanks to supposed record rainfall.
This is not a good look for the league. No one in Los Angeles cares about the Rams or Chargers, and now both teams will have to play in front of empty seats for three more seasons. By 2020, most people might even forget that there are teams in the city, and it's likely that the new stadium opening will be a flop.
Cardinals LB Deone Bucannon undergoes ankle surgery: 2/10 or 5/10 Disaster Rating
The Cardinals lost several key pieces of their defense this offseason, namely Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson and Kevin Minter. They could be without a fourth starter for several weeks, as Deone Bucannon underwent ankle surgery.
Bucannon could begin the year on the PUP list, but the Cardinals are more optimistic, as they're hopeful he can return at some point in September. It's worth noting that this does not mean that he'll be 100 percent.
With several key players gone, this could be a harmful blow to Arizona's playoff aspirations. It really depends on how long Bucannon is out. If he misses two or three games, it's not a big deal, hence the 2/10 rating. If, however, he lands on the PUP list, this would really hurt Arizona. It's not nearly as devastating as losing someone like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu or Chandler Jones, but Bucannon is an important player in the Cardinals' defense.
Browns CB Howard Wilson likely out for season (fractured kneecap): 1/10 Disaster Rating
This is obviously horrible news for Howard Wilson, who now faces an uphill battle to become a viable NFL player. Wilson already has a torn ACL in his past, and now he has to recover from this knee injury. He may never be the player the Browns thought he would be as a result. For Wilson himself, this is probably an 8/10 Disaster Grade.
However, this isn't a big deal for the Browns. Wilson was just a fourth-round pick, so it's not like he was expected to contribute this year. And even if that weren't the case, the Browns won't be making any sort of playoff push. Perhaps Wilson can heal up and be a factor in 2018, which is the earliest Cleveland can be pretty competitive anyway. If not, losing out on a fourth-round pick isn't the end of the world, especially for a team with so many assets in the superior 2018 NFL Draft (click here for my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.)
Cowboys ILB Rolando McClain arrested (drug possession, firearm without permit): 10/10 Disaster Rating
Let me be clear that this is not a Disaster Grade for the Cowboys. Dallas had to be fully aware that it wasn't going to have Rolando McClain available anytime soon. After all, McClain was suspended for a full season back in December.
Given these recent arrests, it's unlikely McClain will ever play again. Marijuana possession obviously isn't the worst thing, but the fact that McClain keeps getting into trouble will keep him from playing in the NFL for a very long time. This is a 10/10 grade for McClain because I don't think he'll play another down again.
Saints C Max Unger questionable for start of season (foot surgery): 5/10 Disaster Rating
Ian Rapoport created quite the buzz Monday morning when he said Max Unger would be doubtful for the season opener because of foot surgery. The Saints' beat writers are a bit more optimistic, calling Unger questionable. If the 2017 NFL Draft has taught us anything, it's that local reporters are much more reliable than the national guys. However, Unger being questionable for the start of the season because of a foot injury is still potentially damaging for the Saints' 2017 chances.
Unger is a talented center and a very key member of the offense. It's my belief that center is the second-most-important position on offense, especially for the Saints, as Drew Brees hates interior pressure more than heat coming from the edge. Unger's absence would be especially damaging for New Orleans because of that reason. Good offensive line play has become extremely crucial in the post-CBA NFL, as teams that can't block have major issues sustaining success. If Unger is out or hurt, New Orleans' offense won't be nearly as potent as it could be.
There's a chance that Unger will make it back in time and be 100 percent, which is why this grade is "only" a 5/10. However, Unger could just as easily be absent, and even if he makes it back, he could rush to return and fail to be healthy as a consequence. That would be a crushing blow for the Saints' 2017 aspirations, as their defense is so bad that they'll need to rely on their offense to outscore everyone.
Giants QB Eli Manning Accused of Selling Fake Memorabilia: 10/10 or 0/10 Disaster Rating
This is a bizarre story that was published by the New York Post on Thursday. The Post reported that Eli Manning was part of a conspiracy to defraud collectors by selling fake game-worn gear. It obtained an e-mail exchange with equipment manager Joe Skiba where Manning was asked to provide two helmets that could "pass as game used," and Manning complied.
It's unclear how true this entire story is - the Giants' lawyers have said that the exchange was taken out of context - but there are other reports stating that the Giants deleted other e-mails.
If true, this is obviously a horrific look for the NFL. Manning signed a $101.5 million contract two years ago, so a player earning a nine-figure contract ripping off people for thousands of dollars is just ridiculous. If guilty, I imagine Manning would be suspended for at least one season, and the Giants could lose a first-round pick for destroying evidence. I'd have to believe that Roger Goodell would strip the Patriots of a mid-round selection as well, just because he hates them.
Then again, this could be fake news. Maybe these exchanges were really taken out of context, and Manning didn't do anything wrong. Either way, the Giants need to be thinking about finding a new quarterback in one of the next two NFL Drafts because Manning's play fell off substantially in 2016. The possibility of Manning being suspended could prompt them to select a quarterback early in the 2017 NFL Draft (check the 2017 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings here.)
Redskins DE/OLB Junior Galette arrested: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Junior Galette was arrested this past weekend for disorderly conduct. The police report said he struck another individual and ran away from a police officer. He was then subdued with a stun gun. Galette must have been bored, as he hasn't played since 2014 because of dual Achilles tears.
Galette is a bum who wasn't expected to contribute to the Redskins anytime soon. One Achilles tear is bad enough, but two consecutive tears would've been too much to come back from. Galette likely would've been a shell of his former self in 2017, even if he'd be able to suit up.
With this news, the Redskins could release Galette, who was caught whipping women on camera a couple of years ago. Then again, it takes the Redskins eons to do anything, so perhaps they'll let him linger on the roster for a few months as Chris Cooley spreads rumors about him.
49ers CB Tramaine Brock arrested and released: 1/10 Disaster Rating
I suppose there are actually two Disaster Grades to issue: one for the 49ers, and one for Tramaine Brock. The San Francisco cornerback was arrested for domestic violence, as police reportedly found his girlfriend with "visible injuries." The 49ers wasted no time in releasing him.
For Brock, this is potentially a 10/10 Disaster Grade. If the allegations are true, Brock may never play in the NFL again. Ray Rice hasn't drawn any interest since his infamous video was released, so why would Brock if he's guilty?
As for the 49ers, losing Brock is not a big deal. Brock is a good player, but he was entering his contract year anyway. San Francisco is years away from competing for a playoff spot, so by the time the 49ers are ready to do so, Brock would be past his prime anyway. Not having Brock will allow the 49ers to have a better shot at the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is packed with great talent (check out my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here.)
Cowboys QB Tony Romo announces retirement: 9/10 and 5/10 Disaster Ratings
Well, the good news for the Texans and Broncos is that they no longer have to wait for Jerry Jones to release his long-time quarterback. Tony Romo has announced his retirement from football, and he will now pursue a career in broadcasting.
This is painful for both teams, especially the Texans. They now have to move forward with Tom Savage as their quarterback unless they can obtain a quarterback at the bottom of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft (check out my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) Romo was always favored to sign with Houston. He wanted to be there more than Denver because it would be close to home. He's about to have a third child, so he didn't want to stray far from Dallas. Plus, being on the Texans would've given him the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl contender.
Houston almost certainly would've made a run at Super Bowl LII as long as Romo could stay healthy. Granted, that was far from a guarantee, considering his dubious injury history, but it at least would've given the Texans a chance. Now, they'll be very lucky if they aren't surpassed by the Titans as the AFC South winner. The Texans clearly deserve a very high Disaster Grade. A 9/10 seems right.
As for the Broncos, their Disaster Grade isn't as high. Romo, as mentioned, was favored to go to Houston. Plus, Denver has a viable quarterback in place for the future in Paxton Lynch. With Romo definitely not in the picture, the Broncos can use all of their resources to develop Lynch, who has the potential to be a very good NFL signal-caller. It still hurts the Broncos that they can't compete for Super Bowl LII - hence the 5/10 Disaster Grade - but perhaps this is better for the long haul.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention CBS hiring Romo. This is perhaps the best news of the day, as Romo will be paired with Jim Nantz, displacing the atrocious Phil Simms. We no longer will have to hear Simms drone on and on about nothing. The days of hearing Simms answer his own questions and mutter stuff about tables being switched are finally over.
Update: Facebook friend Joey Y. wrote the following: "What about a douchebag grade for Jerry Jones? Kind of ridiculous that he forced Tony Romo to walk away by refusing to release him, after he was your quarterback for 10 years."
How could I forget to mention Jones? He definitely deserves a 10/10 for acting like a petulant child who didn't want anyone else to play with his precious toy. Had Jones released Romo earlier, Romo would probably be with the Texans or Broncos right now. I can't believe how utterly selfish a grown man acted in this instance.
Raiders moving to Las Vegas: 9/10 Disaster Rating
The NFL has done some stupid things over the years, but they've generally gotten more things right than wrong. This decision is not included in that statement.
The league owners voted 31-1 in favor of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, with the Dolphins being the lone franchise that opposed this decision. I never thought I'd say this, but the other owners should've followed Stephen Ross' example, because he was the only one who wasn't clueless in that meeting.
I can't believe the Raiders are doing this. They are going to have no one in the stands, and they're going to have the worst home-field advantage in NFL history. Sure, there will be some tourists there going to the games, and I'm sure those attending Vegas business conferences will enjoy the contests from club boxes, but as far as general fans are concerned, the Raiders will have none there. Mark Davis may have to go to one of the closing Macy's and purchase mannequins for $5, so that he can fill the seats with them and not look completely humiliated.
I feel bad for the people of Oakland. They finally have a great team, and now they're moving. It sucks. I don't get it. There's a short-term financial benefit of moving to Las Vegas, but it's going to be horrible for the long haul. Ticket sales and TV viewership in Las Vegas are going to be miserable following the first year. Every single owner should've understood this, but they didn't. Perhaps Ross, owning a team in a tourist city like Miami, was aware of what would occur if the Raiders would move to Las Vegas. He knows it's not going to end well, and he's right.
Panthers QB Cam Newton, DE Charles Johnson undergoing surgeries: 6/10 Disaster Rating
Today is not a good day to be a Panther fan. Both Cam Newton and Charles Johnson will be undergoing surgeries. Newton will repair a partially torn rotator cuff, while Johnson will have back surgery. Johnson will miss the entire offseason program, while Newton's availability for the start of training camp is highly questionable.
Beginning with Newton, it's very strange that he didn't have the surgery back in January. The Panthers have stated that they wanted Newton to have some rest before surgery and subsequent rehabilitation, but giving him more than two months off just seems ridiculous. Hell, one month of rest is almost certainly enough.
Now, this could all blow over, and Newton could be 100 percent by Week 1. That's definitely a possibility. However, another scenario is Newton being rusty from not getting enough reps in with his receivers in training camp and the preseason. That could trickle into the beginning of the season, prompting the Panthers to start slowly again.
As for Johnson, the Panthers had to have known about his back issues because they just signed him to a contract two weeks ago. No back procedure is minor, but I imagine Carolina believes Johnson will be fine. There are no guarantees, however.
I think this is a 6/10 Disaster Rating. It's very ominous for the Panthers' 2017 playoff chances, but as stated above, all of this may not mean anything come September.
Broncos DE/OLB DeMarcus Ware announced retirement: 2/10 Disaster Rating
It may seem odd to issue a Disaster Grade for the Broncos in the wake of DeMarcus Ware's retirement because he happened to be a free agent. However, there was some speculation that he could return to Denver, so that's why I'm doing this particular write-up.
Had Ware gone back to Denver, he would've just been a backup. Shane Ray, a 2015 first-round pick, was expected to transition into the starting lineup across from Von Miller. Ray showed great potential last year, logging eight sacks despite playing about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. Ray was hot at the end of the year, notching four sacks in his final six games.
That said, Ware's loss will still be felt. All the Broncos have behind Miller and Ray is Shaq Barrett. Ware would've been a great third edge rusher, so unless something happens during the draft, the Broncos could have trouble generating a great pass rush if either Miller or Ray goes down.
I'm issuing a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Miller's loss could potentially hurt quite a bit, but that would involve Denver losing one of its players to injury and also whiffing completely in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Washington CB Sidney Jones tears Achilles: 9/10 Disaster Rating
You really have to feel bad for Sidney Jones. The talented cornerback, projected widely to be a top-20 pick, tore his Achilles during his pro day. The injury will cost him millions of dollars, and it will prevent him from seeing the field until 2018.
While Marshon Lattimore is considered the overall No. 1 cornerback, there are some teams that thought Sidney Jones was the best player at his position in this class. He's very talented, and there was an outside shot of him sneaking into the top 10 (I had him No. 13 to Arizona in my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.) That's all over now, and the first round is no longer a possibility. Jones will now be hoping to be selected in the second frame like Jaylon Smith was last year. However, the Cowboys genuinely thought Smith would be able to play this past season. Because Jones won't be available until 2018, he could fall into the third round.
This is a 9/10 Disaster Grade for Jones. The only thing keeping it from being a 10/10 is that it wasn't a torn patellar tendon. Achilles ruptures are difficult to come back from, and Jones may not be in 100-percent form until 2019, but at least his career isn't over.
Cowboys OT Doug Free announces retirement: 4/10 Disaster Rating
Doug Free was once considered one of the top right tackles in the NFL. That hasn't been the case lately, as Free's talent level has dropped, which is understandable, given that he just turned 33. Free apparently noticed this, as he announced his retirement Saturday afternoon.
Despite Free declining, this retirement still hurts the Cowboys. They allowed Ronald Leary to leave via free agency. Had they known of Free's plans, they could've re-signed Leary and moved La'el Collins to right tackle. Now, the plan is to keep Collins at guard and use Chaz Green in Free's spot. The problem with that is Green is far worse than Free. He was horrible last year, and Dallas' offensive line isn't going to be as good without Free.
I'm giving this a 4/10 Disaster Grade. It's bad, but it's not horrible, as the Cowboys might be able to find a decent right tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon suspended for 4 games (PED violation): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Kenneth Dixon showed a ton of promise last year, so it's disappointing to see him get a four-game ban like this. Missing four games won't be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things for Dixon, but if he's caught again, he'll be suspended for much longer.
That said, this is probably a bigger deal for Dixon than the Ravens, which is why I've given Baltimore a 2/10 Disaster Grade. Dixon is good for sure, but there so many talented Running Back Prospects in this year's class. I expected Baltimore to take a running back regardless.
Jets cut C Nick Mangold: 4/10 Disaster Rating
I normally don't do grades for cuts, but e-mailer Chris F. requested this, and I realized that I probably should issue a Disaster Rating. Nick Mangold has been with the Jets since 2006, so it's worth discussing.
Mangold wasn't cut for performance, as he still played well when healthy. He dealt with injuries the past couple of seasons, but he was still a good player while available. The cap was the big issue, as he was owed more than $9 million. Releasing him was necessary because of financial implications, and it's a shame that the previous Jets regime caused this to happen.
I don't think cutting Mangold is a huge deal because the Jets are in rebuilding mode, and by the time they're ready to compete again, he'll likely be in decline. However, there's a chance they hit all their draft picks and get back into playoff contention by 2018, and not having Mangold will hurt. Thus, I think something in the middle like a 4/10 Disaster Grade is appropriate.
Redskins C Kory Lichtensteiger announced retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Kory Lichtensteiger has made 75 starts for the Redskins, but he has decided to end his career. He has spent the previous seven years with the team.
Lichtensteiger is apparently a big name - both literally and figuratively, given that he's trending on Twitter - but this is not a major loss for Washington. In fact, it warrants no sort of Disaster Grade. Lichtensteiger was supplanted by Spencer Long this past season, and Long was better than Lichtensteiger happened to be. Lichtensteiger was an OK center, but he was usually inconsistent. Sure, he'll be missed as a backup, but the Redskins can easily find an equal No. 2 center. Besides, Lichtensteiger was turning 32 soon, so he was bound to decline in the near future.
Colts P Pat McAfee announced retirement: 0/10 Disaster Rating
Pat McAfee is, or rather, was one of the top players at his position in the NFL, and he's just 30 (in May). Thus, his retirement comes as a surprise. I was going to give this a 10/10 Disaster Grade until I remembered that McAfee is a punter, and his absence won't matter whatsoever.
McAfee has cited knee concerns for his retirement, and he's going to move on to write for a Web site. I'm sure some Colt fans are upset by this - his retirement; not the writing ventures - but they should be reminded that punters effectively grow on trees, and Indianapolis will be able to replace him very easily.
Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater reportedly out for 2017 season (knee): 10/10 Disaster Rating
When Teddy Bridgewater shredded his knee last summer, there was some speculation that he would miss multiple seasons and would never be the same again. It seems as though that will be the case, as it's been reported that Bridgewater is expected to be out all of 2017.
This is obviously horrible news. Bridgewater was seen as a promising young quarterback heading into his third year, but his career has been completely derailed by this gruesome knee injury. The Vikings desperately need Bridgewater; he's a much better signal-caller than Sam Bradford, as he had a penchant for converting third downs, while his mobility helped mitigate Minnesota's horrible offensive line. Bradford did set the NFL's single-season completion percentage mark in 2016. This, however, is one of the most fraudulent records in the history of sports, as Bradford checked the ball down on most of his throws, including third-and-long situations that Bridgewater typically converted.
The Vikings now have to wait until 2018 to potentially get Bridgewater back, but even when he returns, he may not be the same. Thus, I have no choice but to give Minnesota a 10/10 Disaster Grade.
Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn out for playoffs (torn biceps): 2/10 Disaster Rating
Not having Adrian Clayborn for the NFC Championship and possible Super Bowl appearance won't be a big deal for the Falcons, as they managed to blow out the Seahawks without him. Clayborn barely played Saturday, and I'd say Atlanta fared pretty well. It's not that Clayborn isn't a good player; it's just that the drop-off from Clayborn to Dwight Freeney isn't substantial at all. Freeney will have to keep playing more snaps, but that's not a problem.
This injury isn't very detrimental. I think a 2/10 rating is right, and it's only above one because of depth issues. If Freeney gets hurt, there will be a big problem, but the Falcons are fine as it stands right now.
Chargers Change Logo to Abomination: 5/10 Disaster Rating
I graded the Chargers' foolish decision to move to Los Angeles yesterday (scroll down below), and I was going to list some places where it would've been better to move - Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, the Moon - to name a few, but then this happened. The Chargers revealed a new logo. If you haven't seen this atrocity, here it is:
That's horrible. It's like the owner told some 18-year-old intern to make a new logo for him, and the kid went into Photoshop, chose a font, typed "LA" and then added a squiggly line at the end to make it look like a lightning bolt of some sort.
And then, someone pointed out that this was basically a combination of the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Lightning logos:
Wow. Not only did the Chargers create a lazy logo, but they stole two designs. That's pathetic, but it matches the utter incompetence of ownership to move to a city that doesn't care about professional football.
Because the Chargers could get sued by the Dodgers and Lightning for copyright infringement, and also sued by Photoshop for horrible usage of their product, I thought about giving this a 10/10. But then, I realized that no one cares because the Chargers no longer have any fans. Thus, I sliced the rating in half. Just like that. It didn't require much thinking, but neither did this awful logo.
Chargers Move to Los Angeles: 10/10 Disaster Rating
Why are there two teams in Los Angeles? Hell, why is there one team in that city? We've had countless years of proof that Los Angeles does not support professional football, and that was once again proven to be the case this past year. Now, the Chargers will have to fight the Rams for attendance, a situation that can't possibly end well.
If the Chargers thought their home games in San Diego were bad, they haven't seen anything yet. Their matchups versus Oakland, for example, will be Raider home games. Other contests will have 30,000 people in the stands if they are lucky. This is going to look horrible for the Chargers and even worse for the NFL. It's such a short-sighted move, though it's typical for it to occur in this Roger Goodell era.
Broncos HC Gary Kubiak retires: 4/10 Disaster Rating
I couldn't exactly post this on my Coach Firing page. How do you grade someone's retirement, after all? What I can do is discuss how it impacts the Broncos organization.
It sucks for Gary Kubiak that he couldn't continue his career because of health concerns, but those obviously need to come first. It also sucks for the Broncos, as they have to find a new head coach, unexpectedly.
Kubiak will be missed, as he was a very good head coach. However, he's not irreplaceable like Bill Belichick, or like Jim Harbaugh was for the 49ers several years ago. There are good candidates out there, and I'm sure John Elway will find a capable replacement. The challenge, however - and this is why I posted a 4/10 Disaster Grade - will be finding someone who can keep the terrific staff intact. What if Elway brings someone in who unexpectedly clashes with the other coaches? That would certainly ruin what the Broncos have going for them right now.