July 27 Training Camp Notes: Michael Thomas returns to practice, Derwin James awaits a new contract and more

Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) during training camp at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Thomas cleared to return to practice

  • Thomas was on the field Wednesday running routes and catching passes from Jameis Winston.
  • It’s the first time he’s been fully cleared from the ankle injury that originally occurred in September of 2020. He missed all of last season after undergoing offseason surgery.
  • In his last full season in 2019, Thomas recorded 149 receptions (most in NFL history) for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. He earned a 90.7 receiving grade, the best mark among wide receivers.
  • Thomas is set to join a revamped New Orleans wide receiver group that now includes Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave.

Derwin James not practicing as he waits for a new contract 

  • James reported to Chargers camp but is officially “holding in” as he waits for a new deal.
  • Both sides have had ongoing productive conversations, and the expectation is a deal making James the highest-paid safety in the NFL will get done.
  • James is coming off a season in which he recorded 118 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and three forced fumbles. He earned a 78.1 PFF grade.
  • He’s entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract and is scheduled to make $9 million under his fifth-year option.
  • The NFL's highest-paid safety is currently SteelersMinkah Fitzpatrick at $18.2 million per season.

LB KJ Wright retires

  • Wright signed a one-day contract with the Seattle Seahawks to make the news official.
  • A fourth-round pick in 2011, Wright spent the first 10 years of his career in Seattle and was a stalwart at linebacker. He started 140 regular-season games and was a part of their Super Bowl XLVIII-winning team.
  • He finished out his career by playing one season with the Raiders in 2021, earning a 63.7 grade to continue a 60.0-plus streak that's spanned his entire career.

49ers release EDGE Dee Ford

  • San Francisco acquired Ford from Kansas City in 2019 for a second-round pick and signed him to a five-year contract worth $85 million.
  • He played only 378 snaps across 18 regular-season games in three seasons with the 49ers. Injuries (primarily a back issue) kept him off the field. 
  • Before all the injuries, Ford was coming off a dominant 2018 campaign in which he earned a 91.0 pass-rush grade with 78 quarterback pressures, 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles.

HC Kevin Stefanski: Jacoby Brissett will be our starter if Deshaun Watson is suspended

  • Cleveland signed Brissett and traded Case Keenum after acquiring Deshaun Watson for a reason, as they knew a suspension was likely.
  • There have been some rumblings that Jimmy Garoppolo could become an option if Watson receives a lengthy suspension, but that remains an unlikely scenario if it would require a trade.
  • Brissett started five games last season for Miami and earned a respectable 77.4 grade in those starts.

Seahawks RB Chris Carson retires

  • Carson was forced to retire at the age of 27 after suffering a serious neck injury early last season.
  • Seattle selected Carson in the seventh round in 2017, and he started 48 games in five years. 
  • He totaled 769 carries for 3,502 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 107 passes for 804 yards and seven touchdowns. 
  • He earned a 70.0-plus overall grade in all five years and never recorded a rushing grade under 74.0. His best season came in 2018, when he finished with an 83.2 PFF grade, sixth best in the NFL. 
  • Seattle used a second-round pick on Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker and also re-signed Rashaad Penny to a one-year, $5.75 million deal this offseason. They are poised to lead the way in Seattle’s backfield in 2022.

Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin won’t start camp on PUP

  • Godwin suffered a torn ACL in Week 15 of last season, so this is a great sign for where he’s at in his recovery.
  • The team plans to take a cautious approach with Godwin throughout camp, and it’s still not a sure-fire thing that he’ll be available come Week 1.
  • Godwin had a career-high 98 receptions last season for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. He earned an 81.3 PFF grade.
  • Tampa Bay rewarded him with a three-year, $60 million deal earlier this offseason.

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