Howdy everyone, and happy Wednesday. Training camps are underway, so let's not waste any time getting to the news, provided today free of charge by Cody Benjamin, who's filling in for John Breech while the latter sends flowers to Joe Burrow after the Bengals star's appendix surgery.
This is the Pick Six Newsletter. (And please, do yourself a favor and make sure you're signed up to receive this newsletter every day! You don't want to miss our daily offerings of everything you need to know around the NFL.)
We've got Julio Jones news, 2022 breakout candidates, and much more:
- Today's show: Burning questions in the AFC North
Ryan Wilson joined Will Brinson on Wednesday's "Pick Six NFL Podcast" to explore pressing questions in one of the most intriguing divisions in the NFL. Some highlights:
- The guys agree that star Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, currently holding out of camp after failing to sign a new long-term contract, is most likely to sign his franchise tag at the last minute and play for Cincinnati in 2022.
- Brinson is curious how the Ravens' offensive line will shake out, with left tackle Ronnie Stanley returning from serious injuries and rookie Tyler Linderbaum slotting in as the center for Lamar Jackson, who's of course entering a contract year.
- Wilson believes the Browns have serious questions not only at quarterback, where a Deshaun Watson suspension looms, but up front on defense, where they don't necessarily have the manpower to consistently stop the run.
Catch the entire episode (and subscribe for all kinds of daily NFL talk) right here.
2. Julio Jones signs with Buccaneers
The rich get richer. Tom Brady already boasted one of the game's top wide receiver rooms with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and former Falcons starter Russell Gage atop the depth chart. Now, Jones is in town on a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $8 million, giving TB12 a big-bodied weapon who should help offset the loss of Rob Gronkowski's red-zone impact. The longtime Falcons star struggled to stay on the field with the Titans in 2021, but as a No. 3 or 4 option in Tampa Bay, he's set up to succeed catching passes from one of the NFL's most reliable signal-callers.
3. 49ers make it official: It's Trey Lance time
Is Jimmy Garoppolo actually done as San Francisco's starting quarterback? Yes, according to coach Kyle Shanahan. Despite the veteran remaining on the roster after an offseason of trade speculation, Shanahan cleared up any uncertainty regarding his QB plans while addressing reporters at camp Tuesday: "We have moved on to Trey (Lance). We think Jimmy would have been traded if (his) surgery didn't happen. ... (Now) it's about seeing how all this will end up." So put it in pen: Whether he's cut or traded, Garoppolo's time is up, and now all eyes are on the 49ers' 2021 first-round pick.
4. Jerry Jones defends Mike McCarthy: He is my choice
All the Sean Payton speculation is fun, but Jones offered emphatic support for his current head coach at the start of Cowboys training camp this week. Things could certainly change if 2022 doesn't unfold as planned, but here's what the owner had to say about McCarthy going into the coach's third year atop the Dallas staff:
"I wanna be real clear: (Mike) wouldn't be sitting here today if I didn't think he was the man to lead this team to a Super Bowl. He would not be. And I have choices. And so that's not to be insensitive to anybody, that's a fact. You guys write about a lot of those choices, and they were there for my use had I wanted them. (But) no, (Mike) is who I'm convicted about, have been, (and) we certainly have had things we've addressed. ... I think we have successfully put together a staff, from this vantage point, that absolutely gives us the best chance ... to get to the ultimate success."
5. Why Giants' Kadarius Toney is a breakout candidate
When you think of young star receivers, you think Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Deebo Samuel. You don't think Kadarius Toney, who went 20th overall in the 2021 draft. That will change very soon, according to draft expert Chris Trapasso, who argues ahead of the 2022 campaign that the Giants wideout is primed for a major emergence in year two:
By this time next year, he will be a proverbial "household name" because of the massive breakout he's going to have. ... Plenty of Toney's 420 yards (in 2021) came on individual talent alone. He forced 12 missed tackles on 39 receptions, which equates to a whopping forced missed tackle rate of 30.7%. Being a member of the "2.0+ yards per route run and 10+ missed tackles as a rookie" club is prestigious and likely signals a star is ready to appear on the scene.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: Camp news, injuries, contracts
Hungry for more headlines? Good thing, because camp is chock-full of news:
- Sam Darnold addresses Baker Mayfield's arrival in Carolina: The QBs are competing for the No. 1 job
- Seahawks' Chris Carson retiring after five seasons: The running back is still battling a neck injury
- Dolphins sign veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu: The wideout was last seen with the 49ers in 2021
- Minkah Fitzpatrick injured after vacation accident: The star Steelers safety will miss practice time
- Deebo Samuel reports to 49ers camp: And San Francisco is still aiming to sign him to a big deal
- Colts leaving door open for T.Y. Hilton return: The veteran wideout remains unsigned