Julio Jones finally left the NFC South, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t see the last of the former Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver.
After months of speculation, the Falcons agreed to trade Jones to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, June 6, according to ESPN. While the Bucs don’t play the Titans in the regular season, the two clubs previously agreed to meet for training camp joint practices ahead of their August 21 preseason game at Raymond James Stadium.
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Bucs head coach Bruce Arians shared about the plans on the Pewter Report Podcast back in May.
“So much of that will depend on how practice goes,” Arians said on May 18. “If we get in and have good OTAs and a good mini-camp … As training camp’s going on we’ve got a week set up with the Titans. Hopefully, everything goes (well) so we can do that and we’ll just judge where everybody is at (and decide) how much they play in the preseason.”
The Bucs last had joint practices with the Titans in 2018 after back-to-back years of holding joint sessions with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tampa also practiced alongside the Miami Dolphins in 2019, per Pewter Report.
Jones Had Thrived Against Tampa Since His 2011 Debut
The 32-year-old Jones had his share of success against the Bucs in 16 career games of the NFC South rivalry dating back to 2011. According to Stat Muse, the former sixth overall pick caught 114 passes for 1,841 yards and 11 touchdowns versus his division rivals to the south, all career-bests against a single team. The 11 touchdowns against Tampa Bay were nearly double the next closest opponent, the Carolina Panthers (six).
The Bucs didn’t run into Jones last season in Weeks 15 and 17 as he played only nine games due to a nagging hamstring injury. He had 51 receptions, 771 yards and three touchdowns, his lowest output since missing 11 regular season games in 2013.
In exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and 2023 fourth-round pick, Tennessee benefits from the addition of Jones after losing two of its top three pass-catchers — WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith — in free agency. Now with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, respectively, Davis and Smith combined for 37.4% of the Titans’ receiving yards in 2020.
After four consecutive 9-7 seasons, Tennessee improved to 11-5 last season on the backs of Derrick Henry and Jones’ new running mate, A.J. Brown. Mike Vrabel’s club was also the last to beat a Tom Brady-led team in his finale with the New England Patriots during the 2019 AFC Wild Card game.
Bucs Reward Arians, Licht With New Deals
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport this week, two of Tampa’s most highly regarded leaders have been rewarded for their roles in helping the Buccaneers secure their first Lombardi Trophy last season since its 2003 Super Bowl victory.
“Sources: The #Bucs have agreed on a revised contract for Super Bowl-winning coach Bruce Arians that includes a pay raise, while GM Jason Licht also has a new deal that ensures he’ll be in Tampa Bay for multiple years. Well-deserved for the champs,” Rapoport tweeted on Monday, June 7.
The duo has also played a large role in returning all 22 starters from February’s Super Bowl roster, a first in the NFL’s salary cap era.
Arians, 68, enters his third season with the team in 2021 after coming out of retirement in 2019, while Licht, 50, heads into his eighth campaign as Tampa Bay’s top football executive.