This season was a polarizing season for the Buccaneers and particularly for quarterback Josh Freeman. On the one hand, Freeman had a 4,000 yard passing year and looked brilliant at times during the Bucs epic winning streak in the middle of the season. But on the other hand, and specifically when the going got tough, Freeman fell into old habits of looking just atrocious.
Freeman is entering the final year of his contract with the Buccaneers, and there’s still a giant question mark above him as to whether he’s really the long term answer for this team. Head coach Greg Schiano back handedly said Freeman is good, but he still needs evaluation as a franchise quarterback.
“What I can say is, a 4,000-yard passer, a touchdown record – there’s a lot of things you say, ‘Wow.’ Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah. There’s things that frustrate him, too. And I’m not ducking the question, because quite frankly, I really like Josh Freeman.” Schiano said to the Tampa Times. “But I want to make sure I don’t get ahead of my skis at all here and really evaluate every single thing to what’s best for this organization.”
If the Buccaneers were to go in another direction, it seems that they’d be looking at next year as the year to usurp Freeman as the man under center in Tampa. All indications are that Freeman will get at least one more season to try and prove he’ matured as a passer, but the leeway is absolutely gone and pressure is without a doubt on.
“Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowls in this league? I do. So, I hope that happens here. But again, at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say that’s what we’re doing.” Schiano continued, “The one thing I do believe in is competition at every spot, including the quarterback so I want to have as many good players on our football team as we can at every single position. It’s a little different in the NFL.”
RIght now the Buccaneers would be looking at a free agency class that includes Michael Vick, Alex Smith and Tim Tebow among others and a draft class of quarterbacks that doesn’t set anyone on fire. The biggest thing that the incoming rookie class has on Freeman is they’re younger in their development, but some are not much younger than Freeman is in age.
The Buccaneers have a huge decision ahead of them that will without a doubt have a long term effect on their franchise. If Freeman stays, he’s either going to be the long term guy and prove he is, or he’ll fail and set the Bucs back with a rookie or a veteran replacement who has to learn the system.
Schiano likes Freeman, and Bucs fans want to like him but the rift is starting to be hard to ignore and something seismic is about to happen in Tampa.