Joe Flacco is the highest paid player in NFL history. Let that sink in for a second. Now think of one year ago when Joe Flacco declared himself elite and decided to wait a year to sign a contract. Well, he won. The Ravens lost.
Guess who’s in the very same situation right now? That’s your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman is scheduled to be up for renewal at the end of the coming season. Freeman is coming off a so-so year that ended in shambles.
Now is a great time to “buy low”. At the moment there are between 15-20 QB’s better than Freeman. However, there are also about 5 teams who would love to give Josh a chance to run their offense. So why not pay him now before any other team has a chance to get their hands on him? You can give Josh a salary outside of the top 10 QB’s and retain him for 4 or more years. If you let him get to Free Agency, you have to fight multiple other teams for his services, and the price rises thanks to the hype and competition for his signature. Even if Free has an average year by his standards, there will still be teams that want him, and the Bucs will have to outbid them to keep him around. The value of signing him now is the discount received from buying low when Freeman’s value is debatable.
Freeman currently is slated to make $8.4 million in 2013. Compare that to quarterbacks across the league similar to Josh:
- Matthew Stafford, $12.5 million
- Philip Rivers, $12 million
- Tony Romo, $11.5 million
- Sam Bradford, $9 million
- Jay Cutler, $8.4 million
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, $4.5 million
- Jake Locker, $1.6 million
- Andy Dalton, $749k
Based on age, you have to figure right now, Josh is making about exactly (maybe a little more) than he should be. However, you can see that if he steps his game up just a little, he suddenly is in line for a $60 mil plus contract for 4 or 5 years. Obviously better performance means better pay, and if the Bucs somehow make a run at or win the Super Bowl, we are looking at the next Flacco situation.
So it boils down to this point: If Mark Dominik and the Bucs think Freeman will be better this coming year than he was last year, they are best suited to sign him now. The price is low because he wasn’t great last year, and the risk is low because the number is not outrageously high for a player at his position. It’s a copycat league. Learn from the Ravens. Do it now, or forever hold your peace.