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January 7, 2013 @ 10:14 am
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Bucs Being Patient In Not Extending Freeman In 2013

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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After seeing what happened when young QBs Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick were offered contract extensions prematurely, the Bucs will exercise patience with Josh Freeman and make him play out the final year of his rookie contract in 2013 without offering an extension.
As PewterReport.com first reported in its SR’s Fab 5 column on Friday, the Buccaneers do not expect to extend the contract of quarterback Josh Freeman in 2013. That means that Freeman will be playing out his contract year and would be an unrestricted free agent in 2014.

Ideally, the Tampa Bay front office was hoping that a strong start by Freeman could have meant a strong finish by the Buccaneers and a surprise playoff berth. That could have jump-started contract extension talks, especially given the fact that through the first 10 games of the 2012 campaign, Freeman had thrown 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions as Tampa Bay compiled a 6-4 record. But during the team’s five-game losing streak, the franchise quarterback threw just five touchdowns and nine interceptions, including back-to-back four-pick games against New Orleans and St. Louis.

That finish, coupled with the fact that the Bucs went 1-5 down the stretch to end up with a 7-9 record, means the team will exert patience when it comes to extending Freeman’s deal. The Bucs want to see how the fourth-year player, who will turn 25 on January 13, wants to see how he performs next season before deciding whether or not to re-sign him and for how much.

“It was an up-and-down year,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “But 4,000 yards, records all over the place, there are a lot of positives there. Certainly when the expectation level is what we make it, and you don’t reach it, there is also disappointment. Josh is probably his own toughest critic, so I don’t know if anything I am going to tell him is going to shock him.”

Tampa Bay’s front office has seen what has happened in New York with Mark Sanchez and in Buffalo with Ryan Fitzpatrick in terms of giving young quarterbacks rich contract extensions at the first sign of promise. In those instances it has come back to bite those respective franchises.

Following the 2011 season, the Jets rushed things and signed Sanchez to five-year, $58.25 million deal. With New York coming off a horrific 2013 season, Sanchez’s deal is now being labeled as “one of the most ill-conceived contract extensions in NFL history,” according to Gary Myers, the Jets beat writer for the New York Daily News.

Sanchez, who was benched in 2012, is set to make $8.25 million in 2013 and there are rumors that the team is trying to trade the former first-round pick in 2009. Sanchez’s poor performance in 2012 and the team’s decline with a 6-10 record this year already cost general manager Mike Tannenbaum his job. The Jets quarterback completed 54.3 percent of his passes for just 2,883 yards with only 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

In Buffalo, Fitzpatrick was quickly signed to a foolish, six-year, $62-million contract in October of 2011. Heading into 2013, the Bills are looking to dump Fitzpatrick after finishing a disappointing 6-10. Fitzpatrick’s didn’t play that poorly statistically speaking, as he completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,400 yards with 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, but just didn’t make enough plays to win games. That prompted Buffalo to fire head coach Chan Gailey.

Freeman had a record-setting season in which he became the franchise’s all-time leading touchdown passer with 78 scores after throwing a team-record 27 TD passes in 2012. He completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 4,065 yards and became the team’s first-ever 4,000-yard passer. The problem is that Freeman threw 17 interceptions, including three pick-sixes last year.

When asked if Freeman, whom Schiano inherited, was his quarterback going forward, Tampa Bay’s head coach was non-committal.

“I’m not all in with myself yet, so how can I be all in with Josh Freeman or any other player?” Freeman said. “What I can say is a 4,000-yard passer, the touchdown record, there are a lot of things that you can say, ‘Wow!’ Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah, but they frustrate him, too.

“Quite frankly I like Josh Freeman and I want to make sure I don’t get ahead of things here and that I really evaluate every single thing to what is best for this organization. Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. I hope that it happens here.”

By not extending Freeman’s contract in 2013 the Buccaneers are rolling the dice that Freeman comes out and has a banner year while leading the team to the playoffs. But that’s a gamble the team is willing to take because the team wants him to succeed, and general manager Mark Dominik can always use the franchise tag on Freeman in order to keep him if necessary.

But first, the plan is to give Freeman more competition than current backup Dan Orlovsky offers.

“The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback,” Schiano said. “I want to have as many good players on our football team as we can at every single position. It is a little different in the NFL. You can’t have two punters, there’s just not room on your roster. Once you get into the year you can only have one long snapper. But as much competition as we can create throughout the football team rises the level of everything.

“And it’s not that they aren’t mentally tough guys or they aren’t competitors, because they are, but it is human nature. When there is competition the level rises, and that is something Mark Dominik and I will work tirelessly on trying to put the best 90 players when we go to training camp on our roster."

Dominik, Schiano and the Glazers will be exhibiting patience and using all of the time they have, which is the 2013 season, in order to make the right decision for the franchise regarding their franchise quarterback.

Dominik has a great relationship with CAA Sports, the sports agency group that represents Freeman, and Ron Freeman, Josh’s father. There aren’t expected to be any hard feelings between Freeman and the Buccaneers about waiting until the end of 2013 to possibly strike a new deal.

Last modified on Monday, 07 January 2013 10:32

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  • avatar

    Jackin Jersey: Not only do I remember the McDonald's "The Bucs Are Coming"; I still have mine in plastic. I also have the original poster when Tampa was awarded the franchise before they were named Buccaneers.
  • avatar

    Hello Buc Nation. I've been with the Buccaneers from day one. Remember the "Bucs are coming" bumper stickers? Lets stop all this, get rid of Freeman nonsense. We should keep in mind that last season was the first time in his career that he received NFL caliber coaching, for the first time in his career he had a true "go to" receiver and didn't have an "over the hill" TE constantly crying for the ball. I believe that is grasp of the new offense was much improved, along with his footwork. Sure, he still has a way to go along these lines, but he's just turning 25 years of age. Lets just take a deep breath and see what next season brings. If Mr. Freeman doesn't show that he is moving into the elite QB neighborhood by then, then it might be time to consider a change. But he certainly has a body of work to keep him in the drivers seat for 2013.
  • avatar

    Very smart decision by the Bucs and really the only one that makes sense. I am still in Freeman's camp but I see his faults clearly. I am hopeful that a second year with the same OC will get him over the hump. I do think that a healthier OL and a better defense would make Josh a lot better QB. The pass protection was only adequate this year. Our defense had trouble getting off the field resulting in poor field position. I am looking for the Bucs to grab a corner in the first round and after that we have needs at Strong Side LB, DT and a back that can spell Martin and play 3rd down. I think those are our most pressing needs but almost any position can either be upgraded or provided with better depth.
  • avatar

    very worrying to read today's rumor about trading Freeman to KC in order to swap draft picks (1 for 13).....so we would give up Freeman and Banks (let's say) for the #1 pick, and with it we select??????...there is no Andrew Luck this year....please Dom don't do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • avatar

    You have to figure the BUCS will pick a corner who can play press-man (the best of whomever falls to them) unless some D-Line stud drops to us for some unknown reason. After that I am not sure how they will go. But I hope the BUCS are smart in the draft and draft a QB who performs well in the clutch. Perhaps one who preformed very well without a strong supporting cast so you can get a true litmus test of their performance. How hard is it to light up teams when you have great talent at the wide receiver position ?? Some QB's who seem to fit this bill are Tyler Wilson, Ryan Nassib, Landry Jones, and Mike Glennon. EJ Manual may be intriguing but I don't think he is as NFL ready as the other folks and we really don't need another "developing QB". We need one more NFL ready. Some experts think Nassib is the best of the lot. Of course, his coach now is Buffalo's head coach so we will most likely have to trade up back into the first round like we did last year to Nab him.Of course they could pick him in the first but that is doubted. His numbers aren't as flashy as some of the other QB's but his supporting cast was not as good and he was plagued by drops.
  • avatar

    Having witnessed every Bucs QB from Steve Spurrier to Josh Freeman, I don't think any fit the mold of what we now call a "franchise" QB. Oh, we've had some play well enough to win us a Superbowl as long as the fierce defense was there to, as Archie Bunker would say, stifle the opponent. We've had some great games from each of them on occasion, but never to the point where the Bucs QB was considered one of the top 5 "elite" ones. Josh Freeman may never elevate his play to the point many of us believe he must to remain. But I know this, before you dump this one, you better have someone better to take his place (not E.J. Manual or Alex Smith) or this same scenario will be repeated over and over for the next 37 years. That said, I think Dominik is wise to let the 2013 season determine his course of action. We all should hope that Freeman succeeds because the alternatives are a crap shoot.
  • avatar

    I am going to pray like hell we get a secondary, and rid this team of players like Myron Lewis.
  • avatar

    Very relieved by this decision and am hoping it becomes a trend in the NFL. While I want to see Freemand accend to the next level w/ the Bucs, I'm not willing to bet the farm on it. My worries w/ Josh revolve around his lack of growth in critical areas. For instance, awareness - no apparent time clock in his head, lack of recognition regarding where pressure is coming from, lack of effective movement in or outside of the pocket, throwing on his heels, and huge chunks of games where he does not seem to be "with it". Yes, an improved defense would be huge for the team. It could've taken some pressure off Josh & 2012 could have ended much better. But, the same could be said if our offense could consistently sustain drives, eat clock, wear down defenses, and help a young inexperienced defense stay fresh and protect leads. If Josh can overcome some of what I mentioned above and improve his short and mid passing game to say "close to average", the sky's the limit and this teams offense could become dominant for some time. Lets all hope Sullivan doesn't jump ship. If so, I fear we'll never know what could have been & Buc fans will likely debate it for another 10 years.
  • avatar

    Seriously, I'm a huge freeman skeptic, because of his mechanics, but EJ Manuel?!?! Any team that drafts him is wasting a draft pick. Bad release point and horrible vision.
  • avatar

    There really is no decision to make. If Freeman does well next year he knows that his best value is to stay with the Bucs and sign a contract even if it is for a year extension. We've seen Freeman for four years and we know what we have. Time to start grooming another QB for a replacement in part of the 2013 season or after the 2014 season. E. J. Manual is much more inconsistent than even Freeman. That's a very bad choice for a QB; his field vision sucks.
  • avatar

    I like the mock drafts that have the Bucs taking E.J. Manual in the mid-rounds. Too bad Aaron Murray isn't coming out. At a minimum this would give the Bucs a little more leverage in future contract negotiations with Freeman.
  • avatar

    Seriously folks, if Freeman can't show some consistency with his game by YEAR 5 in the league then even the Freeman supporters need to back off a bit and accept that this guy may have hit his ceiling as a player. I'm from Kansas and I'm a KSU fan, and when I found out that Free was going to my favorite pro team, there was no Bucs fan out there happier than myself. However I see that he's still prone to the same bonehead mistakes that he was making in college and I don't feel comfortable waiting for the 8-10 years it might take to make him a consistent, winning QB. I want wins from Freeman, and not comeback 4th QTR wins against teams with losing records. That doesn't impress me anymore. I want to see him go toe-to-toe with some of the elite teams in this league and I want him to hold his own and not look so completely lost all of the time. 5 years is more than enough time Freeman supporters. No argument needed or necessary if the guy doesn't show improvement next year.
  • avatar

    This is a smart decision by the Bucs front office. There isn't going to be a franchise like QB in FA and this years draft for quarterbacks seems weak. If anything have Freeman play out this year and see if he does well while drafting a QB in the mid rounds of this years draft since they got two 4th round picks.
  • avatar

    Freeman is a great QB about 55% of the time. What worries me is the times he throws to no one. If our defense was better we could throw less and would have won more games. Landing Florida States QB in the draft or someone like him would be a good thing. Build the defense, can't hurt and give Free a year to see.
  • avatar

    Wise move not resigning Freeman I think fans want to see how Freeman responds to what is a make it or break it year. As a Freeman supporter I think we saw a QB make enough plays plays early in the year only to have the defense/coaching squander away his wins and then later in the year he started pressing to do too much as he saw there was no support to be had. Schiano statement that he's not all in on Freeman is a shame considering he witnessed first hand several leads blown early in the year that were despite good efforts on Freemans behalf. Bring him in some competition but if the Freeman train doesnt work out here we will regret letting him go. I leave you with this, Freeman has outperformed Stafford of the same draft and has played in every game since being called upon to start yet he is the one on the hot seat. I think reality is what Bucs fans need and not another QB. Step up Freeman and prove me right. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    hey macabee - I think that makes sense - my concern is that it makes so much sense, why is Schiano saying he's not sure he's 100% behind Freeman? Shouldn't he be 100% behind this guy, get a real pass defense (or at least a serviceable one), and sure some more help for the kid is never a bad idea, and then move forward....I think there is no better plan B right now (and for the record I am a Freeman believer) and if this plan A doesn't work out I think Schiano will be sent packing too - so why not support Freeman 100% now????
  • avatar

    Hey EastEndBoy, I think there was some tongue-in-cheek in what Schiano said. If we both heard the same presser, end-of-year I think, he also said he's not 100% behind himself - that everyone needs to be looked at in retrospect. He did however say that he thought Freeman could win a Super Bowl in this league, but truth be told he didn't say with which team. By the way that video is still on at Buccaneer.com and that conversation is at minute 15:45 if you're interested.
  • avatar

    There’s nothing wrong with being patient. They have this year and the franchise tag albeit 17mil as insurance in 2014. It is always a good idea to have a promising back-up or QB-in-waiting. I have no problem with that. Remember, Aaron Rodgers sat in the lab 3 years behind Farve before taking the reins and another couple of years before producing. But that’s not what everybody has been talking about lately. The predominant conversation has been about a replacement for Josh assuming he can’t cut it in 2013, his final contract year. That replacement would presumably take us where Freeman could never go –to the football promised land. In my opinion, to waste a low round draft pick or go to FA and spend much needed cash on a back-up QB for that purpose is tantamount to mining for fool’s gold. First, list all the previous franchise QBs the Bucs have had in their 37 year history and the best you’re going to come up with is Brad Johnson – an average QB that won us a Super Bowl. So now we’re going to FA and get a back-up QB that can’t start for another NFL team or take a mid-round pick in the draft hoping for another Tom Brady and expect to get a can’t-miss QB who is going to take us straight-away to the playoffs and subsequently to the Super Bowl. In the words of a former Bengal, Patriot, Dolphin WR – Child Please! The best thing the Bucs can do and what we all better hope for is that they do what it looks like they’re going to do with the restructuring that has already begun - that is go out and get the defensive players and perhaps another offensive player and have another good draft like last year that would help an average QB like Brad Johnson win again!
  • avatar

    I'm actually going to disagree - not that I think waiting is a bad idea but I think there's a flaw in this argument that needs pointing out....the choice was not 1) sign Freeman to a 5 year deal worth $12m/season or 2) wait for another year before signing him. If that was the only choice then I think waiting certainly makes sense - even if it ends up costing more in the long run (i.e. if Freeman plays great in 2013 maybe it will cost $15m/season). But, how about the choice that says sign Freeman to an incentive laden contract that pays him ~$13m per season if he performs great (a discount would certainly be plausible versus signing him after a great 2013), but pays him ~$6m per season if he doesn't? I think the only way we walk away totally from Freeman is if he has a terrible 2013 and we think we can draft his replacement with the high pick we get. We will still need a back-up in that scenario, and be paying the back-up a few million per season (not much less than the ~$6m if Freeman totally bombed out and became our back-up - and in that case having Freeman signed-up reasonably would invite much more trade interest too...again that's if he totally bombed out in 2013 - and yes some team would still give him a second chance at 25 years old for a mid-late draft pick). Maybe Freeman already said no thanks to such a deal - but from the Bucs perspective that sort of deal would seem a better route - unless there's a salary cap implication that I have missed. Anyway, just don't agree that it was all or nothing.
  • avatar

    To say that Freeman has become the franchise leader in TD's and passing yards in a season you have to remember that he is being compared to Dilfer, B. Johnson and a few other QB's that have not been so good. This will be the year to see if they have a Franchise QB or not. If we make a bad move here it could hurt the franchise for many years to come.
  • avatar

    kinda agree, but not realy. don't foget d. williams, vinny, and even s. young if you're going to compare. if the defensive secondary was even passable, i mean just mediocre, we'd still be playing ball right now. to even think that he should not be sewn up right now is absurd. granted i would count 2 or 3 losses to josh but like i said, we would of won at least 4 or 5 more games if teams could not pass on us at will. that being said i do believe next year we are right in the mix, go bucs
  • avatar

    Very smart, wise move by the Buc's front office.
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