PFR Originals

Poll: Which Team Is NFC Favorite?

The NFC lost its top difference-making presence in Week 6, and while Aaron Rodgers is not a lock to miss the rest of the season despite undergoing collarbone surgery, the Packers are without their perennial MVP candidate for at least the next two months. That figures to be a key factor in shaping the NFC race.

As it stands, Carson Wentz‘s progression has the Eagles with the NFL’s best record at 5-1. But a host of NFCers are just behind. And without these Eagles having the kind of pedigree the Rodgers-era Packers do, it seems the NFC’s home-field advantage pursuit is wide open.

Philadelphia’s taken a noticeable step forward, with Wentz developing quickly from intriguing non-Division I-FBS prospect to a player who looks like a bona fide franchise passer. The Eagles rank No. 2 in DVOA, illustrating their potential (although, Football Outsiders had the franchise’s 2016 7-9 iteration at No. 4, so perhaps this isn’t as illuminating as it would appear). Nevertheless, the Eagles are in a better position post-Rodgers setback.

But the NFC’s other surprise contender sits fourth on that DVOA list through six weeks, with the 4-2 Rams slotting in high in that category. These two teams lead the NFC in point differential at plus-43 (Eagles) and plus-41, with Sean McVay playing a key role in transforming the Los Angeles pass offense from the league’s worst to one that’s 10th thus far.

The Rams, however, could not beat the Seahawks at home for a fourth straight year and obviously don’t possess the proven capabilities the Russell Wilson-fronted team does. Seattle stands to benefit from Green Bay’s setback, housing a veteran-stacked roster — one that lost to the Packers in Week 1 — that’s secured five straight postseason berths.

Rodgers going down certainly changes the complexion of the NFC North. The Vikings, whose past five playoff appearances have come with five different starting quarterbacks, are 4-2 without the benefit of an upper-echelon passer. Sam Bradford may return this season, and Teddy Bridgewater‘s progress is certainly encouraging, but this could be Case Keenum‘s operation for a while. Minnesota’s standout defense notwithstanding, is that enough to prop up the Vikes to their second NFC North title in three years?

The North champions in five of the past six seasons, the Packers are not planning to pursue UFA quarterbacks. Mike McCarthy emphatically said third-year backup Brett Hundley is his guy. Green Bay faced this situation before but did make a midseason switch after Scott Tolzien struggled replacing Rodgers in 2013. Matt Flynn re-signed and went 2-2 to help keep the team afloat until Rodgers returned in Week 17. He of 11 pass attempts prior to entering Sunday’s game, Hundley does not possess Flynn’s experience. So it’s hard to determine how the Packers will look without their centerpiece.

Thanks to Atlanta not yet showing the kind of form it did during its Super Bowl season, the South may be the NFC’s toughest division to handicap. The Falcons, Panthers and Saints each have two losses and each has a former first-team All-Pro at quarterback.

New Orleans’ defense looks to be improved (15th in DVOA), and that could make a big difference in supplementing Drew Brees — who’s had to carry porous defenses for years. Luke Kuechly‘s third concussion in three seasons stands to wound the Panthers, who have received better work from Cam Newton lately after a brutal start, as long as the stalwart linebacker’s out. But this nucleus also has a history of booking January home games and shouldn’t be discounted despite a sluggish 2016. The Falcons (17th in DVOA but fifth in total offense) obviously have the potential to repeat as South champs; it just doesn’t figure to be as easy as it was in 2016.

So who is the best bet to emerge from this pack now that the conference’s top weapon is out of the picture? Are teams like the Lions, Redskins or Cowboys legitimate darkhorse candidates? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR Originals: 10/1/17 – 10/8/17

The original content and analysis produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

  • While it’s only Week 5, we wanted to look back at the offseason and determine which free agent signings have worked out the best in both the AFC and NFC. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who has been outstanding for the Jaguars after inking a four-year deal, took the top spot in the AFC according to PFR readers. Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, meanwhile, earned that honor in the NFC given that he’s been a massive improvement on former blindside protector Greg Robinson.
  • The Patriots discussed trading restricted free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler earlier this year, and Ben Levine asked PFR readers if a deal involving Butler still makes sense. The NFL’s trade deadline is October 41, so New England has roughly three weeks to decide on Butler’s fate. The poll voting was tight, as about 58% of respondents believe the Pats will move Butler before month’s end.

Poll: Best NFC Free Agent Addition?

A quarter of the NFL season is now in the books, which means we can accurately grade each and every free agent signing, right? Right?Andrew Whitworth (Vertical)

Even if that’s not the case, it’s still possible to get a sense of how free agents are playing and whether they’re living up to their contacts through four games. After taking a look at the AFC on Friday, today we examined the best free agent signing on each NFC club before asking you to vote on the top overall NFC addition.

One note: we only looked at newcomers, so free agents that re-signed with their original clubs (Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short or Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones, for example) aren’t included. On to the list!

Arizona Cardinals

  • Antoine Bethea, S: General manager Steve Keim & Co. have made a habit of adding aging veterans — especially on the defensive side of the ball — with success, and the Cardinals have seemingly done so again in the form of Bethea. Playing alongside Tyrann Mathieu and another age-30+ defensive back in Tyvon Branch, Bethea has managed one interception and three pass breakups while helping Arizona to the No. 12 ranking in defensive DVOA. And his three, $12.75MM deal can be easily escaped if he does begin to show signs of wearing down later on in 2017.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Dontari Poe, DT: After narrowly missing out on a Super Bowl title earlier this year, the Falcons decided to run it back, returning in 2017 with much of the same roster. Poe was Atlanta’s major addition on defense, as the club waited until the athletic defensive tackle’s market fell enough to allow it to ink him to a one-year, $8MM pact. Poe, who was regularly playing more than 1,000 defensive snaps with the Chiefs, is on pace to play on roughly 750 defensive snaps this season, and limiting his action could be helping his overall performance. Through four games, the Falcons are 13th in pressure rate, up from 20th in 2016.

Carolina Panthers

  • Julius Peppers, DE: Peppers, now in his second stint with the Panthers, was hardly Carolina’s most high-priced free agent signing this spring. That honor goes to $55MM man Matt Kalil, who has been — perhaps unsurprisingly — underwhelming at left tackle. The Panthers are playing Peppers on a reduced snap count, and the 37-year-old has already put up 4.5 sacks through a quarter of the season. He’s an absolute freak of nature who can still bend the edge with ease.

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

  • N/A: The Cowboys allowed most of their secondary to walk out the door during free agency, and veteran Nolan Carroll was their only real external addition. He’s been one of the worst defensive backs in the league in 2017.

Detroit Lions

  • Ricky Wagner, T: Detroit upgraded at both right guard and right tackle this offseason, swapping out Larry Warford and Riley Reiff for T.J. Lang and Wagner. Although both new Lions linemen have been efficient thus far, the nod goes slightly to Wagner. Both Lang and Wagner are earning the same $9.5MM annual salary, but Wagner is three years younger and under team control for a longer period. Additionally, the Lions average more yards (4.41 to 3.04) when running around the right end than through the center/guard.

Green Bay Packers

  • Jahri Evans, G: In a sequence that is completely out of character, the Packers actually signed a number of outside free agents over the past several months, including cornerback Davon House (a former Packer) and front seven defenders Ahmad Brooks, Quinton Dial, and Ricky Jean-Francois. But the best newcomer is on the offensive side ball, as Jahri Evans has played every snap for Green Bay. A lifelong Saint until 2017, Evans has helped the Packers’ offensive line to a No. 3 ranking in adjusted line yards at a cost of only $2.25MM.

Los Angeles Rams

  • Andrew Whitworth, T: Perhaps no other club made a larger upgrade at one position than the Rams did in going from draft bust Greg Robinson to Whitworth at left tackle. The entire Rams’ offense, including quarterback Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, has gone from looking completely incompetent to leading the league in points scored. Even at the age of 35, Whitworth leads all tackles in pass rush productivity and has allowed only one pressure, per Pro Football Focus.

Minnesota Vikings

  • Mike Remmers, T: The Vikings overpaid for both Remmers and left tackle Riley Reiff, but both deals have allowed Minnesota to return to average along the offensive line, a massive step-up from their 2016 front five. Remmers is earning nearly half of what Reiff is making but ranks slightly ahead of the former Lion in PFF’s offensive tackle rankings. Additionally, Remmers hasn’t allowed a sack this season, and the Vikings have been much better at running right than left.

New Orleans Saints

  • Larry Warford, G: Warford replaced another player on this list (Jahri Evans) and has continued to perform as a solid NFL guard. On an offensive line that’s seen some reshuffling due to injuries to Terron Armstead and Zach Strief, the Saints’ interior — which also includes left guard Andrus Peat and center Max Unger — has remained stable. New Orleans has been excellent at running up the middle, as the club ranks sixth with 4.62 yards per carry behind its center or guards. The Saints control the 26-year-old Warford through the 2020 campaign.

New York Giants

  • N/A: Brandon Marshall has yet to top 70 yards receiving in a game, and managed only two receptions in Weeks 1-2. And the signing of fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison never made sense given how much 11 personnel (one back, one tight end) the Giants run. He’s earning $4.5MM annually and has five total receptions.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • LeGarrette Blount, RB: Although he’s not going match his NFL-leading 18 rushing touchdowns from 2016, Blount has already shown that he’s worth the one-year, $1.25MM deal he inked with the Eagles earlier this year. He’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry thus far, and he figures to be even more involved in Philadelphia’s offense following injuries to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Tough as ever, Blount managed 127 of his 136 Week 4 yards after contact.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Brandon Fusco, G: The 49ers and new general manager John Lynch spent a good deal of money this offseason, handing $10MM+ in guarantees to veterans such as wide receiver Pierre Garcon (who’s been average at best) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (who suffered a season-ending injury in August). The most astute signing, however, may have been guard Brandon Fusco, who signed for just $1.4MM total. He’s played every offensive snap for San Francisco and graded as the NFL’s No. 18 guard, per PFF, making him a remarkable value.

Seattle Seahawks

  • Luke Joeckel, G: Joeckel’s one-year, $8MM contract with the Seahawks never made much sense, as the former draft bust hasn’t performed in the NFL and probably didn’t have much of a free agent market. He’s not even playing tackle, which makes the salary all the more confusing. But PFF grades Joeckel as the No. 26 guard in the league, meaning he’s been a starting-caliber offensive lineman through four contests. Plus, it’s hard to fault nearly any single-season pact, no matter the cost.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • DeSean Jackson, WR: Jackson hasn’t been the perfect complemenet to Mike Evans that many projected — while he’s still averaging a robust 17.8 yards per catch, his catch rate is at a career-low 48.3%. Jackson led the league in yards gained off defensive pass interference a season ago, but he’s garnered only one DPI for 15 yards in 2017. Always only play away from a long-distance score, Jackson can still live up to his contract if Tampa Bay’s offense starts clicking.

Washington Redskins

  • D.J. Swearinger, S: In a defensive backfield that’s without Su’a Cravens (left squad list) and DeAngelo Hall (PUP list), Swearinger — who left the Cardinals for a three-year deal in the nation’s capital — has helped stabilize the Redskins’ secondary. Through a quarter of the season, Washington ranks sixth in defensive DVOA under new coordinator Greg Manusky, a 19-spot leap from 2016.

So, what do you think? Which of the free agents has been the best signing through a quarter of the 2017 season? Vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comments section:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Best AFC Free Agent Addition?

A quarter of the NFL season is now in the books, which means we can accurately grade each and every free agent signing, right? Right?Mike Gillislee (Vertical)

Even if that’s not the case, it’s still possible to get a sense of how free agents are playing and whether they’re living up to their contacts through four games. With that in mind, we examined the best free agent signing on each AFC club before asking you to vote on the top overall AFC addition.

One note: we only looked at newcomers, so free agents that re-signed with their original clubs (Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams or Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, for example) aren’t included. On to the list!

Baltimore Ravens

  • Austin Howard, T: No NFL team has been hit harder by injuries in 2017 than the Ravens, and the club’s offensive line hasn’t been immune to health questions. Alex Lewis and Nico Siragusa — both counted on as starters at various points — are done for the season, while All World guard Marshal Yanda is also lost for the year after fracturing his leg in Week 2. Enter Howard, whom Baltimore signed after he was released by the Raiders. The 30-year-old has stepped in at right tackle, playing every offensive snap for the Ravens. While Baltimore’s offensive line still isn’t great (14th in adjusted sack rate, 19th in adjusted line yards), it’s not the disaster that it could have been, and that’s partially thanks to Howard.

Buffalo Bills

  • Jordan Poyer, S: Poyer had never been a full-time starter when the Bills inked him to a four-year, $13MM deal this offseason, but he’s been excellent through four games with Buffalo. Although he signed for roughly half of fellow free agent addition Micah Hyde‘s contract, Poyer actually tops Hyde in Pro Football Focus‘ safety rankings (No. 8 vs. No. 32). His performance is all the more impressive given that his 2016 campaign ended with a lacerated kidney. Poyer has racked up 15 tackles, two sacks, one interception, and five passes defensed in Sean McDermott‘s defense.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Andre Smith, T: Cincinnati originally forged a reunion with Smith with the intent of shifting him to guard, but he’s instead rotated at both left and right tackle behind starters Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. A collegiate blindside protector, Smith hadn’t played left tackle in the NFL until now, but he’s been surprisingly efficient. While he’s only played about half the snaps of Ogbuehi and Fisher, that could change if those former early-round draft picks don’t step up their game going forward.

Cleveland Browns

  • Jason McCourty, CB: Although the Browns dropped a combined $50MM guaranteed on Kevin Zeitler, Kenny Britt, and J.C. Tretter, it’s McCourty — whom Cleveland landed on two-year, $6MM deal — that’s performed the best through four contests. Though he had struggled in recent seasons, the now 30-year-old McCourty has returned to his 2010-13 level of play, as he’s graded as the No. 6 cornerback in the league, per PFF. There’s probably some regression coming, but McCourty has been worth every penny.

Denver Broncos

  • Ronald Leary, G: In sharp contrast to fellow free agent offensive line signing Menelik Watson (who allowed an astounding six sacks through the first two weeks of the season), Leary has stabilized the right guard position in Denver. The Broncos rank third in the league in rushing (both in yards and yards per carry) and eighth in rushing DVOA, and that’s due in no small part to Leary’s presence. Leary is all the more important given that Denver is currently splitting left guard snaps between Allen Barbre and Max Garcia.

Houston Texans

  • Marcus Gilchrist, S: The Texans didn’t bring in many free agents this offseason, and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini is the only other addition besides Gilchrist who’s seen significant playing time in 2017. Gilchrist, 28, has always been a solid defensive back, and he’s playing well in Houston’s secondary after a patellar tendon injury shortened his 2016 campaign. He’s only been on the field for 99 defensive snaps so far this season, but his playing time figures to increase as the year progresses.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Jabaal Sheard, DE: Do you think the Patriots, who have struggled to generate any sort of pass rush, would like to have Sheard back? Although he’s managed only one sack, Sheard has created a ton of pressure, and ranks as the No. 17 edge rusher in the NFL, per PFF. But he’s been even better against the run (No. 3, according to PFF), and he’s been one of the few bright spots on a poor Indianapolis defense. Signed through 2019 at $8.5MM annually, Sheard has been a bargain for the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Calais Campbell, DE: As they have in past offseasons, the Jaguars ponied up for marquee free agents earlier this year, signing defensive backs A.J. Bouye and Barry Church in addition to Campbell. Through a quarter of the season, Campbell has lived up to his four-year, $60MM contract, as he’s already put up 5.5 sacks and 11.5 pressures, and has played like one of the league’s best pass-rushers. Jacksonville leads the league in adjusted sack rate, and Campbell’s presence has surely assisted second-year pro Yannick Ngakoue‘s in his four-sack campaign.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Bennie Logan, DT: The only undefeated team in the NFL, the Chiefs are 4-0 without the help of many external additions. Logan inked a one-year, $8MM pact with Kansas City that was almost fully guaranteed after rejecting a “sizable” extension offer from the Eagles during the 2016 campaign. Logan, 27, has played 155 defensive through four games and served as a run-stuffer, but it’s too early to say whether he made a mistake in turning down a new deal from Philadelphia.

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Russell Okung, T: Okung’s four-year contract — which made him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman — looked like an overpay from the minute it was signed, but there’s no arguing that Okung has played well since leaving the division rival Broncos for the Chargers. Los Angeles’ offensive line still isn’t good, but that’s not the fault of Okung. The Chargers average 6.03 yards when running around the left end (per Football Outsiders), a figure that ranks fifth in the league.

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

  • Mike Gillislee, RB: The Patriots surprisingly signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65MM deal this spring, but the former Bill has looked lost in coverage through four games in New England. Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy has been serviceable but not a difference-maker, leaving Gillislee as the Pats’ best free agent addition thus far. To be clear, Gillislee hasn’t been all that effective (especially after leading the league in yards per carry a season ago), but he’s managed to fall into the end zone four times. Not bad for a two-year, $6.4MM contract.

New York Jets

  • Morris Claiborne, CB: Similar to the Patriots and Jabaal Sheard, the Cowboys would probably like to have Claiborne back on their roster. While he’s not a shutdown cornerback, Claiborne offers competent play when healthy, and he’s played nearly every defensive snap for the Jets this year. Gang Green got Claiborne for only $5MM over one year, a discount largely due to Claiborne’s injury history. New York ranks 14th in passing defense DVOA.

Oakland Raiders

  • Jared Cook, TE: The Raiders needed to add another offensive weapon to supplement wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and there are signs that Cook can be that third option. And in a season in which Crabtree has already dealt with injury, and Cooper has seemingly forgotten how to catch, Cook could be play an even larger role going forward. He could be especially critical as a safety blanket for EJ Manuel, who is now filling in at quarterback for the injury Derek Carr.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • N/A: The only Steelers free agent addition that’s garnered any significant playing time is former Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, and he’s been incredibly unproductive on 178 defensive snaps. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who received $425K guaranteed on a two-year pact, has barely played.

Tennessee Titans

  • Eric Decker, WR: None of the Titans’ free agent signings have been great successes so far, and safety Jonathan Cyprien might have been choice here had he been able to stay healthy. Logan Ryan, too, has been acceptable, but he hasn’t been able to lift Tennessee’s passing defense out of the doldrums. Decker has only posted 12 receptions for 104 yards in 2017, but he’s been a great run-blocking wideout, which is critical in the Titans’ run-first offense. Sure, Tennessee isn’t paying Decker $4MM to block, but he’s at least contributing.

So, what do you think? Which of the free agents has been the best signing through a quarter of the 2017 season? Vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comments section:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will The Patriots Trade CB Malcolm Butler?

Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler had been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching , it begs the question: will New England look to trade their former Super Bowl hero?

Malcolm Butler (vertical)Before we discuss the logic of such a move, let’s review why the Patriots and Butler find themselves in this situation in the first place. The former undrafted free agent has proven himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL over the past two years, earning a Pro Bowl spot in 2015 and a second-team All-Pro nod in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the underpaid cornerback requested a raise prior to last season, although the Patriots predictably made him play on his $600K salary. With the cornerback set to hit restricted free agency, the Patriots slapped a first-round tender on him early in the offseason.

Instead of signing Butler to a lucrative extension, the Patriots decided to ink free agent corner Stephon Gilmore to the most expensive contract for a defensive player in team history. Predictably, Butler was “extremely frustrated” by this move. Subsequent reports indicated that the team was shopping Butler to New Orleans, and the player’s agent was apparently asking front offices for a Gilmore-type contract (around $14MM annually). While there seemed to be some momentum towards a deal with the Saints, talks ultimately died, and Butler eventually signed his tender.

With reports indicating that the cornerback was likely going to leave New England following the season, some assumed that the Patriots would ride out the season with a deadly duo of Butler and Gilmore. However, coach Bill Belichick has never really operated under that logic. Last year, we saw the team trade impending free agents Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Previously, the front office dealt Deion Branch and Richard Seymour, who were also set to hit free agency. In all these cases, the trades arguably hurt New England’s on-field product, which only emphasizes why Belichick isn’t afraid to trade a player before he’s set to walk. For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported back in April that a trade was still possible, although unlikely. Reports also indicated that the team has no interest in franchising the defensive back.

Through the first three games of the season, the cornerback hasn’t done much to boost his free agent stock. After playing nearly all of his team’s snaps in 2016, he found himself on the bench during the beginning of the Patriots’ Week 2 contest. He’s compiled nine tackles and one pass defended this year, and Pro Football Focus ranks him 37th among 109 qualified cornerbacks.

Even if he has taken a slight step back this season, the Patriots could still receive some type of draft-pick compensation for Butler. Sure, he is an impending free agent in pursuit of a huge payday, but any acquiring team would have the leverage of a franchise tag.

So that leads back to the original question: will the Patriots trade Malcolm Butler prior to the trade deadline? Vote below, and let us know what you think in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR Originals: 9/17/17 – 9/24/17

The original content and analysis produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

  • More than a quarter of the NFL is still winless as the league enters Week 3 of the 2017 season, leading Zach Links to ask PFR readers which 0-2 (and in the case of the 49ers, 0-3) club is likeliest to rebound as the season progresses. So far, the Giants, Saints, and Chargers have been the favorites, as each of those three teams have received at least 15% of the vote.
  • In our latest PFR Glossary entry, Zach explained the NFL’s waiver process, which undergoes important changes beginning in Week 4 and then again after the trade deadline passes.

PFR Glossary: Waivers

Here at Pro Football Rumors, you’ll see a number of stories posted on players being cut, waived, or released by their NFL teams. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not quite synonymous. A player who is “cut” has been removed from his team’s roster, but whether he is “waived” or “released” generally depends on his NFL experience.

Between the day after the Super Bowl and the following season’s trade deadline, players with less than four years of service time – or “accrued seasons” – have to pass through waivers after they’re cut by an NFL team. The other 31 clubs around the league have a day to place a waiver claim on that player, adding him to their roster and taking on his contract. That’s why we refer to these players as having been waived, rather than released.

If a player with more than four years of service time is cut between the Super Bowl and the trade deadline, he is not subjected to the waiver process, meaning he becomes a free agent immediately, able to sign with a new team right away if he so chooses.

This isn’t the case all year round, however. Once the trade deadline passes, any player who is cut by his team must pass through waivers, regardless of how many accrued seasons are on his résumé. So if a team cuts loose a 12-year veteran in Week 10 of the coming season, that player must pass through waivers unclaimed before he’d be free to sign with a team of his choice.

Here are a few more details on the waiver process:

  • If two teams place a waiver claim on the same player, he is awarded to the team with the higher priority. Waiver priority is determined by the previous season’s standings — this year, for example, the Browns have first dibs, while the Super Bowl champion Patriots have 32nd priority.
  • However, the waiver priority order will change starting in Week 4. At that point, waiver priority is determined by records of the current season.
  • The window to claim a player closes at the end of the NFL’s business day, which is at 3:00pm central. So if a player is waived by one team on Monday, the other 31 clubs have until Tuesday afternoon to submit a claim. Players cut on Friday clear waivers (or are awarded to a new team) on the following Monday.
  • Prior to the first cutdown date in training camp, injured players with fewer than four years of service time cannot be placed on injured reserve until they pass through waivers. Teams will cut this sort of player with a waived-injured designation, allowing other teams to place a claim if they so choose. If the player goes unclaimed, his team can place him on IR or agree to an injury settlement, then fully release him from the roster.

Note: This is a PFR Glossary entry, modified from a previous post by Luke Adams. Our glossary posts explain specific rules relating to free agency, trades, or other aspects of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Information from Russell Street Report and SBNation.com was used in the creation of this post.

Which 0-2 Team Is Likeliest To Rebound?

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:

Chicago Bears

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.

Cincinnati Bengals

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.

Cleveland Browns

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.

Indianapolis Colts

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!

PFR Originals: 9/10/17 – 9/17/17

This week’s original content from PFR:

  • PFR, via Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez, took an in-depth look at how each team assembled its roster for the season. The Bengals and Packers lead the league in homegrown players rostered, while the Bills and Bears preferred the free agency route, each team beginning this season with 24 UFAs. The Jaguars are the only team with more than 20 UDFAs on their roster, with 23, and the Panthers boast an NFL-high 12 former first-round picks on their roster.

How Week 1 Rosters Were Assembled

Jason Martinez is the operator of RosterResource.com, an indispensable source for NFL depth charts as well as complete MLB, NBA, and NHL rosters. In advance of the season’s kickoff for 2017, Jason analyzed how each team’s 53-man roster was assembled for Week 1. You may be surprised to see how many of your team’s players are homegrown versus those arrived via free agency, trades, or waivers.

 

AFC EAST

  • Buffalo Bills | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 16
    • Free Agency: 24
    • Trade: 6
    • Waivers: 4
    • Practice Squad: 3
    • 1st Round draft picks: 5
      • Eric Wood, DE Jerry Hughes, DT Marcell Dareus, DE/OLB Shaq Lawson, CB Tre’Davious White
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 19
  • Miami Dolphins | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 28
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 5
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 1
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Jay Cutler, WR DeVante Parker, C Mike Pouncey, G/T Laremy Tunsil, T Ja’Wuan James, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE/OLB Charles Harris, LB Lawrence Timmons
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 18
  • New England Patriots | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 32
    • Free Agency: 11
    • Trade: 8
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 7
      • WR Brandin Cooks, WR Phillip Dorsett, T Nate Solder, DT Malcom Brown, LB Dont’a Hightower, CB Stephon Gilmore, S Devin McCourty
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 15
  • New York Jets | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 25
    • Free Agency: 15
    • Trade: 4
    • Waivers: 7
    • Practice Squad: 2
    • 1st Round draft picks: 6
      • James Carpenter, DE Leonard Williams, DE Muhammad Wilkinson, LB Darron Lee, CB Morris Claiborne, S Jamal Adams
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 16

AFC NORTH

  • Baltimore Ravens | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 37
    • Free Agency: 12
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 1
    • 1st Round draft picks: 9
      • QB Joe Flacco, WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Breshad Perriman, TE Benjamin Watson, T Ronnie Stanley, LB C.J. Mosley, LB Terrell Suggs, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Jimmy Smith
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 14
  • Cincinnati Bengals | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 43
    • Free Agency: 6
    • Trade: 1
    • Waivers: 3
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, TE Tyler Eifert, T Cedric Ogbuehi, T Andre Smith, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB William Jackson
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 7
  • Cleveland Browns | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 30
    • Free Agency: 9
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 8
    • Practice Squad: 3
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • WR Corey Coleman, WR Kenny Britt, TE David Njoko, G Kevin Zeitler, T Joe Thomas, DE Myles Garrett, DT Danny Shelton, S Jabrill Peppers
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 14
  • Pittsburgh Steelers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 33
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 11
      • QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, C Maurkice Pouncey, G David DeCastro, DE Cameron Heyward, DE Tyson Alualu, DE/OLB Bud Dupree, OLB T.J. Watt, LB Ryan Shazier, CB Joe Haden, CB Artie Burns
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 16

AFC SOUTH

  • Houston Texans | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 40
    • Free Agency: 9
    • Trade: 1
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 2
    • 1st Round draft picks: 10
      • QB Deshaun Watson, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Will Fuller V, DE J.J. Watt, DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, LB Brian Cushing, LB Whitney Mercilus, CB Kareem Jackson, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Johnathan Joseph
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 17
  • Indianapolis Colts | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 27
    • Free Agency: 19
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 5
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 6
      • QB Andrew Luck, C Ryan Kelly, T Anthony Castonzo, OLB Barkevious Mingo, CB Vontae Davis, S Malik Hooker
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 17
  • Jacksonville Jaguars | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 29
    • Free Agency: 18
    • Trade: 0
    • Waivers: 6
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 6
      • QB Blake Bortles, RB Leonard Fournette, TE Marcedes Lewis, DE Dante Fowler Jr., CB Jalen Ramsay, S Calvin Pryor
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 23
  • Tennessee Titans | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 26
    • Free Agency: 21
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 3
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Marcus Mariota, WR Corey Davis, T Jack Conklin, T Taylor Lewan, DT Sylvester Williams, OLB Derrick Morgan, OLB Brian Orakpo, CB Adoree’ Jackson
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 11

AFC WEST

  • Denver Broncos | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 33
    • Free Agency: 15
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 6
      • QB Paxton Lynch, WR Demaryius Thomas, T Garrett Bolles, DE/OLB Von Miller, CB Aqib Talib, CB Bradley Roby
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 15
  • Kansas City Chiefs | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 36
    • Free Agency: 9
    • Trade: 6
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 9
      • QB Alex Smith, QB Patrick Mahomes, RB C.J. Spiller, T Eric Fisher, OL Cameron Erving, OLB Dee Ford, LB Derrick Johnson, CB Marcus Peters, S Eric Berry
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 12
  • Los Angeles Chargers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 31
    • Free Agency: 14
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 4
    • Practice Squad: 2
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, WR Mike Williams, T Russell Okung, DE Joey Bosa, DL Corey Liuget, DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, CB Jason Verrett
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 19
  • Oakland Raiders | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 34
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 1
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 10
      • QB E.J. Manuel, RB Marshawn Lynch, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, DE/OLB Khalil Mack, LB Bruce Irvin, CB Gareon Conley, S Reggie Nelson, S Karl Joseph
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 16

NFC EAST

  • Dallas Cowboys | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 37
    • Free Agency: 11
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round picks: 9
      • RB Ezekiel Elliott, RB Darren McFadden, WR Dez Bryant, C Travis Frederick, G Zack Martin, G Jonathan Cooper, T Tyron Smith, DE Taco Charlton, S Byron Jones
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 14
  • New York Giants | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 31
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 1
    • 1st Round draft picks: 9
      • QB Eli Manning, WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Evan Engram, T Ereck Flowers, T Justin Pugh, G/T D.J. Fluker, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Eli Applie, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 16
  • Philadelphia Eagles | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 27
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 5
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 2
    • 1st Round draft picks: 10:
      • QB Carson Wentz, WR Nelson Agholor, G Chance Warmach, T Lane Johnson, DE Derek Barnett, DE Chris Long, DE/OLB Brandon Graham, DT Fletcher Cox, CB Patrick Robinson, S Malcolm Jenkins
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 9
  • Washington Redskins | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 31
    • Free Agency: 20
    • Trade: 0
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 7
      • WR Josh Doctson, TE Vernon Davis, T Trent Williams, T Brandon Scherff, DE Jonathan Allen, DL Ziggy Hood, OLB Ryan Kerrigan
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 12

NFL NORTH

  • Chicago Bears | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 21
    • Free Agency: 24
    • Trade: 1
    • Waivers: 7
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Mitch Trubisky QB Mark Sanchez, WR Kevin White, WR Kendall Wright, G Kyle Long, OLB Leonard Floyd, CB Prince Amukamara, CB Kyle Fuller
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 14
  • Detroit Lions | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 32
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 7
      • QB Matthew Stafford, TE Eric Ebron, T/G Greg Robinson, DE Ezekiel Ansah, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Jarrad Davis, CB D.J. Hayden 
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 13
  • Green Bay Packers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 42
    • Free Agency: 10
    • Trade: 0
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 7
      • QB Aaron Rodgers, T Bryan Bulaga, DT Kenny Clark, LB Clay Matthews, LB Nick Perry, CB Damarious Randall, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 12
  • Minnesota Vikings | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 34
    • Free Agency: 13
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 1
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Sam Bradford, WR Laquon Treadwell, T Riley Reiff, LB Anthony Barr, CB Terence Newman, CB Xavier Rhodes, CB Trae Waynes, S Harrison Smith
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 19

NFL SOUTH

  • Atlanta Falcons | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 31
    • Free Agency: 19
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 10
      • QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, C Alex Mack, T Jake Matthews, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Takkarist McKinley, DT Dontari Poe, DE/OLB Vic Beasley, CB Desmond Trufant, S Keanu Neal
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 15
  • Carolina Panthers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 29
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 4
    • Waivers: 3
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 12
      • QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Kelvin Benjamin, TE Greg Olsen, T Matt Kalil, DE/OLB Julius Peppers, DT Star Lotulelei, DT Vernon Butler, LB Thomas Davis, LB Luke Keuchly, LB Shaq Thompson
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 19
  • New Orleans Saints | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 30
    • Free Agency: 19
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 10
      • RB Mark Ingram, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Ted Ginn Jr., G Andrus Peat, T Ryan Ramzcyk, DE Cameron Jordan, DT Sheldon Rankins, LB Stephone Anthony, CB Marshon Lattimore, S Kenny Vaccaro
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 18
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 28
    • Free Agency: 21
    • Trade: 0
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 2
    • 1st Round draft picks: 6
      • QB Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans, TE O.J. Howard, DE Robert Ayers, DT Gerald McCoy, CB Vernon Hargreaves
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 17

NFL WEST

  • Arizona Cardinals | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 26
    • Free Agency: 22
    • Trade: 2
    • Waivers: 0
    • Practice Squad: 3
    • 1st Round draft picks: 11
      • QB Carson Palmer, QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Larry Fitzgerald, TE Jermaine Gresham, G Mike Iupati, T D.J. Humphries, DE/OLB Chandler Jones, DE Robert Nkemdiche, LB Deone Bucannon, LB Haason Reddick, CB Patrick Peterson
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 13
  • Los Angeles Rams | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 36
    • Free Agency: 8
    • Trade: 3
    • Waivers: 6
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Tavon Austin, DE/OLB Robert Quinn, DL Michael Brockers, LB Alec Ogletree, LB/S Mark Barron
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 15
  • San Francisco 49ers | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 33
    • Free Agency: 17
    • Trade: 1
    • Waivers: 2
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 8
      • Laken Tomlinson, T Joe Staley, DL DeForest Buckner, DL Arik Armstead, DE Solomon Thomas, LB Reuben Foster, S Eric Reid, S Jimmie Ward
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 15
  • Seattle Seahawks | Depth Chart
    • Homegrown: 30
    • Free Agency: 15
    • Trade: 7
    • Waivers: 1
    • Practice Squad: 0
    • 1st Round draft picks: 5
      • T/G Luke Joeckel, T Germain Ifedi, DL Sheldon Richardson, DE/OLB Marcus Smith, S Earl Thomas
    • Undrafted Free Agents: 17