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):
- Kenny Britt‘s Browns tenure has not started off well. The 29-year-old wide receiver has just two receptions for 15 yards, on five targets. Recent practice squad promotion Rashard Higgins more than doubled Britt’s season target figure in Week 2. When the Browns signed Britt to a four-year, $32MM contract in March, an anonymous NFL executive told cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto the deal came with risk because Britt could become an “attitude problem.” Pluto characterizes Britt as having trouble in this department while with the Titans before re-routing his career with the Rams with a 1,000-yard season in 2016. Now paid handsomely by a non-contending team, Britt has an uphill battle to prove he’s worth the investment. The bulk of Britt’s guaranteed money will be paid out this season, but the ninth-year veteran’s 2018 dead-money figure is higher than the cap savings that would come the Browns’ way with a release.
- DeShone Kizer left last weekend’s game due to migraine headaches. Pluto notes the Browns were aware of this trouble, but since the issue never impeded the quarterback during a game at Notre Dame, the Browns didn’t deem it a medical red flag. A waiver claim last year, 2016 fifth-round pick Kevin Hogan came on in relief of Kizer and has usurped Cody Kessler for the backup job.
- Teryl Austin‘s been a frequent visitor for teams seeking head coaching interviews in recent years. He met with the Chargers in January and spoke with the Browns, Dolphins, Giants and Eagles in 2016. The veteran Lions DC has yet to receive a chance to lead a team, and while Austin said last year he felt only two of his 2016 interviews were legitimate, some teams may have had issues with the DC’s ideas for a staff, Kyle Meinke of MLive.come notes. However, Meinke adds Austin has rectified those seemingly minor concerns, and teams “love the way he’s interviewed.” If the Lions turn in a solid defensive performance this season, Meinke envisions the 52-year-old defensive mind landing a coaching gig in 2018.
Today’s minor moves:
- The Patriots are promoting defensive end Geneo Grissom to the active roster, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Pats have been paying Grisson handsomely by taxi squad standards – $36,716 per week – and they think rather highly of the former third-round pick. Given the way the Pats’ pass rush was depleted over the offseason, they could use his production. The 25-year-old has appeared in 26 games for the Patriots over the last two years but has yet to really make a mark.
- The Browns have promoted practice squad wide receiver Jordan Leslie in advance of Sunday’s game (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Given Corey Coleman’s injury, Leslie should be in for some playing time. To make room, Cleveland waived wide receiver Reggie Davis.
- The Bengals have waived wide receiver Jake Kumerow from injured reserve.
Now playing in his contract season, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell indicated he thinks about a new deal “during the game, after the game, before the game, right now, all the time,” as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. A restricted free agent, Crowell is earning $2.746MM after Cleveland tendered him at the second-round level. The Browns reportedly discussed an extension with the 24-year-old back during the summer, but no pact was ever signed. Thus far in 2017, Crowell is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry on 27 rushes.
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!
Today’s minor moves:
- Signed: LB Philip Wheeler
- Signed off Ravens‘ practice squad: CB Reggie Porter
Los Angeles Chargers
- Placed on NFI: OL Chris Hairston
- Signed off Titans‘ practice squad: OL Tyler Marz
New Orleans Saints