The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are growing impatient with quarterback Josh Freeman, and for good reason. Entering his fifth NFL season, Freeman has been extremely inconsistent, showing flashes of brilliance but also showing flashes of a first-round bust, sometimes on consecutive plays. The 2013 season is the last of Freeman’s rookie contract, so he’s playing for his job, but he could be playing for a lot more than that this fall.
Freeman’s rookie season wasn’t exactly promising as the former Kansas State standout failed to throw for 2,000 yards and his interceptions nearly doubled his touchdowns. However, he looked like a future stud in his sophomore season, throwing for 3,400 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Buccaneers finished 10-6 that year, but failed to make the playoffs as a Wild Card. Still, Tampa Bay was buzzing with excitement about its future.
Then what was supposed to be Freeman’s magical third season happened. In 2011, the Bucs finished a lowly 4-12 while Freeman almost halved his touchdown total and nearly quadrupled his number of interceptions from the previous season. What happened? Well, 2012 was okay, but it certainly wasn’t anything to remember for Tampa Bay besides the emergence of rookie running back Doug Martin.
The Buccaneers are thinking playoffs or bust in 2013 and it will take more than Martin’s running to get them there. Freeman is going to have to step up and play like a first-round pick again for Tampa Bay to contend in the NFC South again. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year and if he doesn’t have another season like 2010, would you want him on your favorite team? Didn’t think so. He’ll likely be a low-paid backup if he falters this year. It’s a contract year for Freeman, but it’s not just his namesake in Tampa Bay that’s on the line–it’s his career.