We’re coming up on Week 4 of the NFL season and that means that waiver claim priority will be based on the current league standings instead of last year’s. Of course, waiver priority is based on the inverted NFL standings, which have built in tiebreakers to sort out the many logjams that naturally occur.
Throughout the offseason and the first three weeks of the regular season, the Browns enjoyed top priority thanks to their 1-15 finish last year. Now, we have a brand new pecking order. Here is a full rundown of the current waiver claim priority, which will change from week to week (Twitter links via Field Yates of ESPN.com):
Bears safety Quintin Demps suffered a broken arm in Sunday’s win against the Steelers and will be sidelined indefinitely, Chicago announced today. Head coach John Fox indicated the club is still deciding whether to place Demps on injured reserve.
“The good news is we’ve got guys that have been with us [to replace Demps],” Fox said. “There are guys that are familiar with what we’re doing. That was the advantage of some of the injuries and play time we got a year ago. We feel good about guys stepping in. Obviously we don’t want to see anybody get hurt or injured, but those other guys are worthy.”
Third-year pro Adrian Amos will be asked to step in at safety in the absence of Amos, and as Fox alludes to, Amos offers plenty of experience. A fifth-round pick in 2015, Amos started 30 games over his first two seasons in the NFL, and graded as the league’s No. 26 safety last year, per Pro Football Focus. Amos will now start next to rookie defensive back Eddie Jackson, while Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson will serve as Chicago’s backups at safety.
If the Bears do placed Demps on injured reserve, he’d be forced to miss at least eight games before returning, meaning he wouldn’t be available until nearly December. While that’s not ideal, Chicago likely doesn’t want to carry an unplayable Demps on its roster for the month-plus it will take him to recover.
Demps, 32, inked a three-year, $13.5MM deal that included $4.5MM in the spring after spending the past two seasons with the Texans. Through an admittedly small sample of only two-plus games, PFF had ranked Demps as just the 70th-best safety among 82 qualifiers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Bears brought in three players for a tryout on Monday, including former Green Bay defensive end Datone Jones, an NFL source tells Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Defensive end Howard Jones and defensive back Doran Grant also showed their stuff for Chicago.
Jones signed on with the Vikings this offseason but injuries took him off track. Just prior to the season opener, Minnesota waived Jones from IR, allowing them to save on more than half of his one-year, $3.75MM deal. Since then, he’s tried out for a number of teams, including the Patriots, Lions, and Jets, but has not found a taker.
Jones, 27, has never quite lived up to his first round draft status, but he did make some strides in 2016. Last year, Jones logged a career-high four starts and amassed 548 snaps across 15 games.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Bears have not yet had a discussion about replacing starter Mike Glennon with fellow quarterback Mitch Trubisky, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Through two games (both Chicago losses), Glennon has completed 67.1% of his passes for 514 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He currently ranks 21st in quarterback rating and 25th in adjusted net yards per attempt, while the Bears’ passing offense is just 26th in DVOA.
Here’s more from the Windy City:
- Running back Jordan Howard is playing through a sprained AC joint, tweets Rapoport, who adds the injury could help explain why some scouts believe the Bears second-year back is running “tentatively.” Howard, who topped 1,300 yards on the ground in 2016 after entering the league as a fifth-round pick, has seen his snap percentage decrease this season as rookie Tarik Cohen takes on more passing game responsibility. Heading into today’s game Howard had managed just 2.7 yards per carry, but he’s already managed 46 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 3.
- While the Bears originally believed Nick Kwiatkoski was done for the year after suffering a pectoral injury last week, the linebacker’s health issue may not be season-ending, per Rapoport (Twitter link). While Kwiatkoski will miss several games, he’s likely to be available later this year. That’s an extremely positive development for Chicago, which had already placed starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman on injured reserve.
- Can the Bears rebound from their 0-2 start? Not according to PFR readers, who ranked Chicago as one of the least likeliest winless teams to perform better down the stretch. Check out the rest of the poll results and add your own thoughts here.
Here are today’s minor moves.
- Jason Verrett‘s 2017 season ended up including just one game. The cornerback will undergo season-ending left knee surgery, and the Chargers placed the cornerback on IR Saturday. To make room on their 53-man roster, the Bolts signed linebacker Nick Dzubnar, Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports. Dzubnar played in 20 games for the Chargers over the past two seasons.
- Steven Johnson‘s transaction-heavy month continued today when the Steelers cut the veteran linebacker and signed linebacker L.J. Fort, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. The Steelers made this reverse transaction last week, and Fort re-signed with Pittsburgh’s practice squad soon after. Johnson’s been involved in four September transactions. He figures to be a candidate to re-sign.
- The Bears promoted linebacker John Timu from their practice squad and cut wide receiver Tre McBride, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Already down multiple key receivers, the Bears currently are carrying just four on their active roster.
- The Titans also made a receiver transaction before their Week 3 game, swapping out pass-catchers. The team promoted wideout Darius Jennings from the practice squad and waived wideout Zach Pascal. Jennings has spent time with several teams prior to this promotion, but his most relevant work came in making 14 receptions for the 2015 Browns.
Kyle Long will return to action Sunday after missing 10 games, between the 2016 and ’17 seasons, with a severe ankle injury. The veteran Bears guard shed some light on why the recovery took so long after the November 2016 setback. Long said (via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune) he “tore everything but his Achilles” during a gruesome sequence in the Bears’ eighth game last season. This included four ankle ligament tears. No broken bones occurred, but this induced the lengthy rehab process. It’s been more than 10 months since the Bears’ three-time Pro Bowl blocker stepped on a field for a game. Long’s father, Hall of Famer Howie Long, said he should have started training camp on the PUP list to prevent from attempting to come back too early.
- The Eagles attempted to sign defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson off the Bears‘ practice squad, but Chicago promoted Houston-Carson to its active roster instead, reports Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Houston-Carson, 24, appeared in eight games for the Bears a season ago, but rarely played on defense (just eight snaps). Instead, he spent most of his time on special teams, where he played on a quarter of Chicago’s snaps.
Today’s practice squad moves:
- Signed: CB Josh Thornton
- Signed: DT Marcus Hardison
- Released: T Jeremiah Poutasi
- Signed: S Jack Tocho
New England Patriots
New York Giants
- Signed: WR Ed Eagan
- Signed: OL Jake Rodgers
- Released: WR Justin Thomas
- Signed: OL Brad Seaton, LB Tony Washington
Nearly three-quarters of NFL teams are in the win column this year while nine teams still in search of their first W. However, starting out 0-2 is not a death sentence. In each of the last four seasons, at least one 0-2 team has made the playoffs. In 2015, two teams (the Texans and Seahawks) both made the postseason, despite an 0-2 start to the year.
In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we want to know which team you think will turn over a new leaf starting in Week 3. Here’s the rundown:
The Bears took the defending NFC champion Falcons to the brink in Week 1, and though Week 2’s contest against the Buccaneers wasn’t as close, Chicago has shown signs of life. Rookie running back Tarik Cohen has emerged as a threat in the passing game following injuries to wideouts Cameron Meredith and Kevin White, and he could potentially former a thunder-and-lightning combination with Jordan Howard. Signal-caller Mike Glennon is 18th in quarterback rating and 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt, so the calls for No. 2 overall selection Mitch Trubisky could come quickly.
Moreso than any other team on this list, the Bengals have acted quickly to rectify their early-season woes, firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after they failed to score a touchdown in either of their first two games. Things won’t get any easier when Cincinnati travels to Green Bay in Week 3, but perhaps new offensive play-caller Bill Lazor will further implement rookies John Ross and Joe Mixon into the club’s gameplan. Additionally, Lazor will reportedly seek to install a quicker offense that will alleviate the Bengals’ offensive line concerns.
2017 had always been viewed as another rebuilding season for the Browns, but Cleveland has been relatively competitive through two games (especially in Week 1, when it lost to Pittsburgh by only a field goal). A supposedly revamped offensive line still ranks near the bottom of the league in both run blocking and pass protection, and the Browns will need continued improvement from quarterback DeShone Kizer if they hope to compete this year. A broken hand for Corey Coleman — and a disappointing start by veteran pass-catcher Kenny Britt — aren’t helping matters, but a return from No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett could spark Cleveland’s defense.
Andrew Luck won’t practice this week, and although the Colts had been eyeing an early October return for their star quarterback, it’s beginning to seem like it could be longer before we see Luck back on the field. If Indianapolis continues to struggle, will the Colts even bother with putting Luck back into the lineup? General manager Chris Ballard made a handful of low-cost defensive additions this offseason, and if No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis gets healthy, the unit could mesh. But nothing will matter unless Luck can supplant Jacoby Brissett within the next few weeks.
Los Angles Chargers
The Chargers got smashed this week for being unable to fill a soccer stadium for their season opener. We’ll admit that it wasn’t a good look, but things will improve if they start winning and there is reason to believe that can happen soon. The Chargers are winless, but they lost to the Broncos and Dolphins by a combined total of five points. If rookie kicker Younghoe Koo had connected on one of his two missed attempts against Miami or if his 44-yard try against the Broncos was not blocked, the Chargers wouldn’t be on this list.
New Orleans Saints
A top-ten offense and a bottom-two defense by DVOA? We must be talking about the Saints. New Orleans hasn’t started out the season with the easiest schedule in facing the Vikings and Patriots, but improvement on the health front could help their offense in the coming weeks. Left tackle Terron Armstead is reportedly ahead of schedule, and his return could allow rookie Ryan Ramczyk to move to the right side to cover for the injured Zach Strief. Receiver Willie Snead, too, will come back in Week 4 following a suspension. Solutions on defense are less obvious, but development from young players such as corner Marshon Lattimore and linebacker Alex Anzalone is a start.
New York Giants
The Giants have limped out of the gate and head coach Ben McAdoo may be thinking about giving up play calling duties. That’s not the only change that could be coming on offense. Second-year pro Paul Perkins has been averaging just 1.9 yards per carry and the Giants could shake things up by handing things over to Orleans Darkwa, who has 5.2 yards per attempt in a smaller sample size. In theory, that could spark Eli Manning and the passing game, but the offensive line will have to do a better job of protecting its quarterback in order to move the chains.
New York Jets
Wait, wait – hear us out. Yes, the Jets are behind the 8-ball after losing wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season and cutting valuable vets like Eric Decker and David Harris. However, they kept the score close in their Week 1 game against the rival Bills and things didn’t get too out of hand against the Raiders until a muffed punt late in the first half. Next up, the Jets have a home date with the Lawrence Timmons-less Dolphins followed by a pair of (dare we say) winnable games against the Browns and Jaguars. We know you won’t pick the Jets, but we hope we at least gave you something to think about.
San Francisco 49ers
Brian Hoyer has been dreadful in his first two games under center for SF and the Niners are hoping that he’ll do better on Thursday night against the Rams. If San Francisco is lucky, defensive tackle Aaron Donald will still be shaking the rust off on national television. However, even if they are able to avoid an 0-3 start, the odds are probably still against this rebuilding club in 2017.
So what do you think? Which of these nine clubs has the best chance to rebound from its poor start in order to earn a postseason berth? Vote in the poll below!