Quarterback Josh Freeman's agent recently met with the Buccaneers and stated that Tampa Bay is committed to Freeman. But Freeman's – and general manger Mark Dominik's – future may hinge on the quarterback play in 2013.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has stated that Tampa Bay will take a wait-and-see approach regarding the future of quarterback Josh Freeman’s contract. If Freeman excels this season, then the former 2009 first-round pick most likely will earn a long-term, big money extension, and if Freeman plays poorly, 2013 could be his last season in Tampa Bay.
Multiple reports this week say the Bucs, and Freeman’s agent Erik Burkhardt, recently met, and according to Burkhardt, all was positive.
“We did meet and talks were very productive,” Burkhardt told Gil Arica from TheBayCave.com on Monday. “The Bucs are a huge believer in Josh and Josh is a huge believer in coach Schiano and Mark Dominik.”
Burkhardt reiterated the same thing to the Tampa Tribune’s Roy Cummings on Tuesday.
"It was really positive,''Burkhardt told The Tampa Tribune of the recent meeting he had with Bucs officials at the NFL scouting combine. "They said they definitely believe in Josh, that he is their guy, that they want to reach their goals with him and that they know he is capable of doing the job and are committed to him.''
The statement from Burkhardt paints a positive picture but sources recently told PewterReport.com that the relationship between Freeman and the organization isn’t quite as sunny as Burkhardt and some have made it out to be.
Regardless of the nature of the Bucs and Freeman’s relationship, both sides need things to work. Freeman is entering the final year of his original five-year rookie deal and needs to post big numbers and get the Buccaneers in – or at the very least close to the playoffs – to secure a future with the organization.
Schiano, and general manager Mark Dominik need Freeman to also succeed. Dominik’s future in Tampa could depend of how the Buccaneers perform next season, and of course a big part will be based on the play of the quarterback.
Schiano’s future could also be based on Freeman’s season next year. If Freeman underwhelms and is jettisoned off after the 2013 season, Schiano will have to begin his third season with a brand new quarterback. And while Schiano has a five-year contract in place, most coaches are judged on the first three years of their deal.
Freeman is coming off of his best season as a pro, breaking the team’s single season record for passing yards (4,065) and most touchdown passes (27) in franchise history.
But the former Kansas State star also struggled at times, particularly down the stretch, when the Buccaneers were in the thick of the playoff race. Freeman’s late-season collapse, and back-to-back four interception games against New Orleans and St. Louis, sealed the team’s fate as after a 6-4 start, the Bucs finished 7-9 on the year. The 2012 season marked the fifth season in a row without a playoff berth.
Blaming the late season collapse on Freeman alone is unfair as the Buccaneers secondary struggled all year, coming within 12 yards of setting an NFL record for most passing yards allowed in a season.
The Buccaneers are planning on addressing their secondary issues through free agency and the upcoming April NFL Draft, but their plans on addressing the quarterback will be based on Freeman’s 2013 season.
Regardless, the best-case scenario for the organization, Freeman – and the fans – would be consistent quarterback play and a trip to the postseason in 2013. If that doesn’t happen the situation in Tampa Bay will become extremely muddied and Freeman may not end up being the only casualty.
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