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Julio Jones Signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offseason has taken a dramatic turn since Tom Brady first announced his retirement at the end of last season. Brady’s retirement, of course, was short lived. Now, the team has added another weapon at wide receiver: Julio Jones.

A seven-time Pro Bowl receiver, Jones signed a one-year contract with the Buccaneers on July 26 and is expected to be a full participant when the team’s training camp opens. He’s fully recovered from a torn ACL that he suffered in December, but missed seven games last season and won’t be rushed into action.

A 33-year-old alumnus of the University of Alabama, Jones was selected sixth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2011 National Football League (NFL) Draft and has put together one of the all-time great careers for wide receivers. He ranks third all-time in 100-yard games behind Jerry Rice (76) and Randy Moss (64) and is the all-time leader in receiving yards per game at 91.9.

Although he was limited to 10 games last season with the Tennessee Titans, Jones caught 31 passes for 434 yards.

Packers Were the Betting Favorites

Jones signing with the Buccaneers was somewhat of a surprise considering the team wasn’t even one of the betting favorites to land the legendary wide receiver. One oddsmaker listed the Packers as the betting favorites at +325.

This would have made plenty of sense given Aaron Rodgers is returning with, once again, a fairly bleak wide receiver group, especially since DeVante Adams is now in Las Vegas. Green Bay’s depth chart at WR is Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard, and Randall Cobb – not all that inspiring.

Indianapolis (+350), Dallas (+550), Cleveland (+600), and Kansas City (+950) rounded out the top five betting favorites to land Jones at Caesars. All of those would have made more sense from a playing time perspective, but Jones can chase a Super Bowl ring with Brady and the ‘Bucs.

How This Impacts the Buccaneers Super Bowl Odds

Lines weren’t updated immediately after Jones signed with Tampa Bay, but his addition to the team has to make the Bucs even that much more of a contender. Jones has recorded more than 1,000 yards in seven seasons, including most recently in 2019 – the last time he played a full season.

If he can stay healthy, which might be a big if at this point in his career, Jones should be able to produce somewhere around 800 receiving yards and give Brady a big target in the end zone – something he’ll miss with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. Jones had 771 receiving yards with the Falcons in 2020, despite playing only nine games.

With Jones signed, Tampa Bay now has one of the deepest wide receiver groups in the league. The team also has Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and the recently-signed Russell Gage. Clearly, the Bucs can be patient with Jones and swap him in and out of offensive packages to best take advantage of defensive schemes.

Tampa Bay had the second shortest odds to win the Super Bowl at +700 on July 26. Only the Buffalo Bulls (+600) had better odds. The defending champion Los Angeles Rams, meanwhile, had the fifth-shortest odds at +1100.

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