After significantly regressing in 2011, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman looks to rebound in 2012 under new head coach, Greg Schiano. However, Freeman’s time in Tampa may be running out. Freeman has two years, $15,015,000 left on his contract, and is an unrestricted free agent after that.
In 2010, Freeman surprised the football world with an outstanding season. He finished with a 61.4 completion percentage, 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. The Buccaneers went on to win 10 games that season, and just missed the playoffs. Overall, Freeman’s composure was excellent, as was evidenced by the limited amount of INT’s. At this time, Freeman was only 22, and there appeared to be a lot of upside. I mean, drafting a franchise quarterback 17th overall isn’t the most common thing, but it happens. However, 2011 was perhaps surprising, or it could have been predictable. Who knows.
It’s obvious that Freeman regressed in 2011. He threw a career-high 22 interceptions and only 16 touchdowns, while racking up 3,592 yards. These stats come with an asterisk, in my opinion. Throughout the year, he battled several injuries, which most likely affected his play. Freeman dealt with a thumb problem and a shoulder issue later on. One positive note, though, is that his completion percentage has improved every year since 2009. Furthermore, it also appeared that the whole team was in disarray at times. This, of course, led to the downfall of the Raheem Morris regime. But the point is, chaos and a lack of chemistry significantly affect a quarterback’s performance. It’s also worth noting the seemingly non-existent running game, which can affect the passing game in many different ways. But it should remain clear that Josh Freeman also deserves some of the blame. I know he’s young, but he cut his injured thumb while at a gun range. Now I’m pretty sure that doesn’t help the team. However, he did learn his lesson. I hope.
But the question remains – do the Buccaneers give Freeman an extension? I’m still of the opinion that it’s too early. One good year, one bad year aren’t very good indicators. However, he’ll have to prove himself in 2012. The Buccaneers have not yet approached Freeman about a contract extension, to my knowledge. Tampa Bay should wait until after this season. Almost everyone in the organization still believes he’s the franchise QB, and in the eyes of many, he’s just missing consistency. If/once he becomes consistent, then the two sides can talk about an extension. Now’s simply not the time. The Buccaneers have a new head coach, who hasn’t even seen his quarterback in a real game yet. And quite frankly, Freeman hasn’t earned it.
The smartest thing would be to wait. If Freeman has another bad year, maybe he is just not a franchise quarterback. If he has a good year, he probably deserves the extension. Certainly, however, the Buccaneers should avoid a situation similar to the one in New Orleans with Drew Brees at all costs.
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