A number of certainties surround the upcoming season for Josh Freeman. He is in a contract year. His team drafted a possible replacement in the third round of the draft. He is in the second year with top receiver Vincent Jackson and Mike Sullivan. Just to name a few.
But all these uncertainties lead to quite the uncertain future. As we’ve been saying all offseason, it’s basically put up or shut up time for #5. So I wondered, what does he really need to do to get that contract extended, and in what situation might be on the streets at the end of the year.
When it comes to quarterbacks, only one number matters, and that’s wins. QB rating, total yards, TD/INT ratios, you can throw them all out if a guy’s a winner (other than Tim Tebow, but we aren’t going down that road). So, here’s a look at the possible Buccaneers win totals, and their effect on Josh Freeman’s future in Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers win 0-4 games
First of all, just kill me. Secondly, Freeman’s career in Tampa will be over. In this scenario, Josh probably doesn’t even make it all the way to Week 17 with the starting job. You’d have to assume the inconsistency became consistent, but consistently bad. This is the biggest nightmare, and seems rather unlikely, but it would certainly signal the end of the Kansas State product’s career in pewter and red. Not to mention many many others.
Buccaneers win 5-6 games
This would be a clear disappointment for the team and the city. Whether Freeman is totally to blame for the rough year or not, he’s probably not going to get the extension he may have gotten had it been done after the 2012 season. It’s possible if the defense collapses yet again, Freeman could stick around on a short-term, “you’ve got to win the job back in camp” type deal, but more than likely, the Bucs would probably decide to move on.
Buccaneers win 7-8 games
The .500 mark (or just below) would make the decision the toughest on Mark Dominik. It would have to come down to how Freeman played over the course of the year, and whether he progressed to a level in which he’s worth keeping. I have a hard time deciding what would happen to him in this case. I can argue that the Dominik and Schiano would want to separate from Freeman, in turn blaming the lack of playoff appearances on him. But at the same time I could see them keeping Freeman because he’d be relatively cheap (compared to most QB’s) and has a better shot in the system than any replacement. For the franchise, this is probably the worst case. They will have to make a huge decision that will set the team on a path for many years, and they’ll have to do it using data from mediocre year after mediocre year. Really a scary situation to think about, and even scarier, the way the schedule lines up, they very well be headed here. My hunch is, .500 isn’t good enough for Schiano, Freeman will sign a contract elsewhere.
Buccaneers win 9-10 games (miss playoffs)
A winning season would be a step in the right direction. And much like how we all felt after 2010, sadness would be there for the short-term, but after a while, we’ll come to realize the team played pretty well, and it just wasn’t our year. I think Freeman is safe, but not Flacco rich. Actually not a terrible scenario for the team’s future. Freeman’s leverage won’t be as high, however he’ll have proved he can lead a winning team once again, and show the arrow’s pointing up. The NFC is tough, and not making the playoffs shouldn’t be looked at as damning. Freeman would re-sign, and become the QB for the next 4-5 years. This is of course assuming he doesn’t blow the last three games after a 9-4 start. Then it might be a slightly different story. Still think he stays in that scenario (see Tony Romo).
Buccaneers win 9-10 games (make playoffs)
A playoff appearance would go a long way in this starved city. The difference between 10 wins and in and 10 wins and out will be drastic on Freeman’s piggy bank. Freeman will have led a team not only a winning season, but a top six finish in a stacked NFC. It would be a leap the right way and Freeman will reap the benefits of it, even if he might have been the reason it wasn’t 11 or 12 wins. Dominik wants a guy who can get them there, and if Freeman can prove it to him, he’ll stick around for sure. The pay wouldn’t be as astronomical as Flacco’s, but it would be pretty high. This is likely the best case for the Buccaneers future.
Buccaneers win 11-13 games (do not reach Super Bowl)
Mark Dominik will be in a much more compromising position that he’s in right now (August 1st) but he won’t be as handcuffed as it would seem. Freeman would be coming off a big year, be comfortable with the offense, and will know his best chance at continued success is with the Buccaneers. The number to keep him around would be high, likely higher than most of us are comfortable with, but it won’t cripple the franchise for the long-term. This would be an awesome situation because we’ll finally get to enjoy some success, but it’ll likely put Dominik in a bit of a compromising situation when it comes to locking up some other key pieces.
Bucccaneers win 11-16 games (make or win Super Bowl)
Freeman will be handed a blank check with the Glazer’s names on it and will be told to write the number that it will take to keep him in Tampa Bay. He will have made a giant leap in the consistency category, and will have led a relatively young underdog team to the promised land. He’ll instantly join the “elite” discussion, and will be the clear future of the Buccaneer franchise. It’ll cost a ridiculous number, and will really seal the fates of some players the Buccaneers would have wanted to keep, but the option to let him walk won’t even be considered. Honestly, this isn’t the best case for the future. The Super Bowl trip will have come one year early when it comes to managing finances. But I could not care less. I’d be first in line to jeopardize the Bucs future for a shot at the Lombard Trophy in 2013.
Agree? Disagree? Let me hear it.