Thursday, August 18, 2022

Julio Jones finds perfect landing spot, plus get ready for the MLB trade deadline

Happy Wednesday, everyone! This is no ordinary Wednesday: Every NFL team has reported for training camp, and football is in the air.

Let’s get right to it.


Good morning to everyone but especially to…

JULIO JONES

Julio Jones has a new home, and it’s about as good of a landing spot as he could have hoped for. The seven-time Pro-Bowl wide receiver is joining the Buccaneers on a 1-year deal.

  • Jones spent last year with the Titans, playing in just 10 games and not producing much: 31 catches, 434 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown, all career lows.
  • Over the past two seasons — his first (and only) in Tennessee and his last in Atlanta — Jones has missed nearly as many games (14) as he has played (19). His last 1,000-yard season was 2019.
  • Jones’ 13,330 receiving yards since he entered the league in 2011 are the most of any player during that span.

Despite the injury issues and the fact that he’s 33, Jones is headed to an ideal situation: a pass-happy, win-now team with a need at wide receiver. The Buccaneers led the league in passing rate last year, Tom Brady is back for potentially one last run and starting wide receiver Chris Godwin is coming off a torn ACL.

If Jones is going to get one last shot to prove he can stay on the field — much less produce when he’s there — Tampa Bay will give it to him.

AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO TREY LANCE…

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If there was any doubt that the San Francisco 49ers are Trey Lance‘s team, it ended yesterday on the eve the first training camp practice. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said “our team’s ready for Trey” and added “I know the kid has the abilities, made of the right stuff, he just needs the reps.”

  • Lance, the third overall pick in 2021 out of FCS program North Dakota State, appeared in just six games last season with two starts, sitting behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Lance showed a strong but sometimes erratic arm, averaging 9.3 air yards per attempt — fourth among 53 quarterbacks who threw at least 50 passes — but completing under 58% of his throws.
  • Lance is also a dual threat. He rushed for 1,100 yards in his last full season: as a sophomore at North Dakota State.
  • Garoppolo, meanwhile, remains on the roster but is expected to be traded or released before the regular season begins.

Lance getting Shanahan’s full endorsement is a big deal. The jump from FCS to the NFL was always going to be a big one, and that was before Lance played only one game in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it appears he has his head coach’s confidence and won’t have to look over his shoulder over the next month-plus leading into the season.

Add in weapons like George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, plus one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and running games, and Lance should be set up for success.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

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Getty Images

THE LOS ANGELES SPARKS

There are ugly splits between teams and superstars and then there’s what happened between the Los Angeles Sparks and four-time All-Star Liz Cambage. The two sides agreed to part ways via a “contract divorce,” leaving her future in the WNBA in doubt.

  • Cambage joined the Sparks as a prized addition this offseason and averaged 13.0 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game, both her fewest since her 2011 rookie season.
  • The departure comes at a crucial time for Los Angeles, which sits sixth in the standings with nine games to go. Eight teams make the playoffs.
  • Another star, Tina Charles, had a contract divorce with the Mercury this season and found a new home with the Storm; we’ll see what happens with Cambage.

Not so honorable mentions

Determining buyers and sellers at MLB trade deadline ⚾

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We’re within a week of the MLB trade deadline, and while there are clear buyers and clear sellers, there are plenty of teams in the in-between. MLB expert Dayn Perry took a look at all 30 teams as we approach the Aug. 2 deadline, and the Red Sox — one of the biggest buy-or-sell question marks — might do… neither?

  • Perry: “The Red Sox badly need rotation help, especially in light of Chris Sale‘s broken finger, and an upgrade at first base. Ownership, however, has been remarkably stingy in recent years, and GM Chaim Bloom doesn’t seem the type to agitate for more of an effort from them. There’s also the fact that the Red Sox have been trending downward of late (to put it mildly). It’s hard to imagine they tear it down in such short order, but it’s easy to envision not much of anything happening in Boston before the deadline.”

This was a really good, insightful look across the bigs, and there were plenty of surprising buyers (and sellers).

Chris Carson retires from NFL at 27 due to neck injury 🏈

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USATSI

Chris Carson‘s remarkable NFL journey has come to a sad, premature end. The former seventh-round pick who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2018 and 2019 has retired from the NFL at just 27 years old due to a lingering neck issue.

  • Carson played in just four games last season and had vertebrae-fusion surgery in December 2021 that limited his range of motion. He was excused from mandatory minicamp as he hadn’t been medically cleared to participate.
  • Officially, the team released Carson with a failed physical designation. Carson never played a full season in his five-year NFL career.
  • Seattle will rely on Rashaad Penny — who led the NFL in rushing yards over the final five weeks last season — and second-round rookie Kenneth Walker III to lead the rushing attack.

While this outcome wasn’t wholly unexpected given Carson’s injury history, it is still unfortunate for a true feel-good story. Carson went from junior college to Oklahoma State to one of the last selections in the 2017 NFL Draft to a true workhorse back. A blend of strength, balance and athleticism, Carson’s 3,502 career rushing yards are fifth-most by a seventh-rounder since the NFL Draft shrunk to seven rounds in 1994.

NFL training camp bold predictions 🏈

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USATSI

As I mentioned above, all 32 NFL teams have reported to training camp, and that means it’s time for bold training camp predictions. Garoppolo’s landing spot will be a major talking point, and NFL reporter Cody Benjamin has made his pick.

  • Benjamin: Seahawks sign Garoppolo: It just makes too much sense. This is the last place the 49ers want to deal him, but at some point they’re gonna have to pay for retaining Garoppolo so long. And sure, Seattle has reportedly been lukewarm about other veteran QBs, but they know Jimmy G, and he also just so happens to be cut from Pete Carroll’s preferred cloth — a point guard at his best when he’s leaning on the run.”

Here are all of Cody’s predictions.

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

Yankees at Mets, 7 p.m. on ESPN

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