The benching of starting quarterback Josh Freeman likely means his tenure in Tampa Bay will be quickly coming to an end. With rookie Mike Glennon, the team’s third-round pick this year, starting against Arizona on Sunday due to Freeman’s performance and the team’s 1-8 record dating back to 2012, look for general manager Mark Dominik to trade Freeman prior to the NFL trade deadline on October 29.
Dominik has to attempt to trade Freeman prior to Week 9 or risk getting nothing in return from the player he invested a first- and a fourth-round pick in back in 2009 during his first draft as Tampa Bay’s general manager. Freeman, who is in his fifth NFL season, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season.
Sources have told PewterReport.com that the team will not be making attempts at trading Freeman this week. Instead, the Bucs will wait until injuries or ineffectiveness happen within other teams at the quarterback position. Dominik has four more weeks to deal Freeman prior to the trade deadline and a lot can happen between now and then.
The problem with trading Freeman is his salary and the remaining salary cap room of interested teams. He’s still owed close to $7 million of the $8.43 million base salary he’s due in 2013. If the Bucs wait three weeks to trade him that will bring down Freeman’s remaining salary by approximately $1.6 million. That might help a team with tight salary cap space be able to acquire Freeman at around $5 million for the rest of the season.
The Bucs would love to get at least second-round pick for Freeman, but the guess is here that Dominik would pull the trigger for a third-rounder – unless he has multiple teams interested in a quarterback that just came off a 4,000-yard, 27-touchdown season.
Here is a look at some possible trading partners Tampa Bay might have for the 25-year old Freeman:JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Jacksonville is ready to move on from former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, and Chad Henne isn’t much better. New head coach Gus Bradley left Tampa Bay shortly before Freeman arrived in 2009, but he and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris, who drafted Freeman, are close and he could be given a strong referral from Morris.
The Jaguars are desperate for better play from the quarterback position and acquiring Freeman would create some positive buzz for the league’s worst and most apathetic franchise. The fact that Jacksonville will likely have a top 10 – or perhaps even a top 5 – pick again would make the Jaguars a very intriguing draft partner for Tampa Bay.CLEVELAND BROWNS
Due to a multitude of trades, including dealing running back Trent Richardson for a first-round pick last week, the Browns have a plethora of draft picks in 2014, including a pair of picks in the first, second and third rounds. Brandon Weeden, a first-round pick in 2012 by the former regime, is not the answer at quarterback, and has been benched due to performance and an injured thumb. Brian Hoyer, who led the Browns to a win over Minnesota last week, will start again on Sunday.
While the Browns will use a high pick on a quarterback in 2014, they may need a serviceable quarterback in the interim to step in and bridge the gap early next year and even at the end of this season. Don’t be surprised if the Browns clean house next year and look to pair a veteran quarterback with a rookie. Freeman could be that guy and Cleveland has plenty of draft picks to spare in 2014. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Freeman could get the chance to be reunited with former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, who knows Freeman’s strengths and weaknesses as well as anyone. Under Olson, who is Oakland’s offensive coordinator, Freeman had his best statistical season in 2010 in leading Tampa Bay to a 10-6 record with 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
Freeman has struggled with accuracy since Olson left, completing 54.8 percent of his passes in 2012 and just 45.7 percent of his throws this season. Freeman completed 61.4 percent of his passes in 2010 and had a career-high 62.8 percent completion percentage in 2011.
The Raiders have Terrelle Pryor, who will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion, as the starter, and traded for Matt Flynn in the offseason. Freeman could come in and compete for the starting job later in the 2013 season or in 2014.KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
New Chiefs coach Andy Reid has a highly-paid starter in Alex Smith, but is known for acquiring quarterbacks, evidenced by drafting Nick Foles in Philadelphia even though he had Michael Vick as the starter, and also dealing former second-round pick Kevin Kolb to Arizona for a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Chiefs only have unproven Chase Daniel and rookie Tyler Bray to back up Smith, and having a more experienced veteran like Freeman may bolster Kansas City’s roster as it looks to make a playoff run. Plus, Freeman has experience playing in a West Coast Offense in Tampa Bay under Olson.
Because Freeman is from Kansas City and went to school at Kansas State University, this would be his agent’s preferred destination for the quarterback. Freeman’s family still resides in Kansas City and staying closer to his roots may help his career blossom.MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Vikings starter Christian Ponder has been as frustrating to Vikings as Freeman was to Bucs fans. Ponder however was able to do something that Freeman never did –lead his team to the playoffs. But with the Vikings having one of, if not the best running back in the league in Adrian Peterson and adding wide receiver Greg Jennings in the offseason, expectations were high in Minneapolis this season and an 0-3 start has led to a target placed on Ponder’s head by the media and fans in Minnesota.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was responsible for drafting Ponder and may be hesitant to wave the white flag admitting his error. However the Vikings window is shrinking and the Vikings could be tempted to bring Freeman aboard. Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier’s rationalization to add Freeman could be to help push Ponder to greatness or push Ponder to the bench.ARIZONA CARDINALS
Dominik may have a chance to talk to Arizona general manager Steve Keim face-to-face at Sunday’s game about dealing Freeman to the Cardinals. Freeman, who would be an ideal fit for Bruce Arians’ offense, may flourish on the bench, learning from a seasoned veteran like Carson Palmer for a year or two and then emerge as his successor in Arizona.
Palmer, 33, was signed as a stopgap in Arizona, and like Kurt Warner, the Cardinals hope that they can catch lightning in a bottle twice and reach the postseason with a savvy veteran. However after Warner retired, the Cardinals were a revolving door at the quarterback and that ultimately cost Ken Wisenhunt his job. Freeman, just 25, could fit that bill as the transition guy when Palmer is done.
Dominik has been successful in the NFL trading arena before, acquiring cornerback Darrelle Revis in April from the New York Jets for a first-round pick in 2013 and a third-round pick in 2014. Last year, he traded defensive tackle Brian Price to Chicago for a seventh-round pick, and also dealt tight end Kellen Winslow to Seattle for a seventh-round pick, although the compensation was nullified when Winslow didn’t make the Seahawks’ 53-man roster. In 2009, Dominik also traded defensive end Gaines Adams, a former first-round pick, to Chicago for a second-round pick in 2010.–Mark Cook contributed to this report
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.