The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like a team on the rise just a couple years ago, with a budding star at quarterback in Josh Freeman. But a 4-12 campaign in 2011 led to the firing of Raheem Morris as head coach and Greg Schiano being hired to replace him. The team went 7-9 last season in Schiano’s first year at the helm, and Freeman set career-highs in passing yards (4,065) and touchdown passes (27).
All indications are that Tampa Bay will allow Freeman to play out the final year of his contract this year, and with an eye toward the future they used a third-round pick in April on quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon is not necessarily expected to compete with Freeman for the starting job right away, but Schiano has been slow to fully endorse Freeman and stated throughout the offseason his desire to add competition at quarterback.
With the offseason moves that were made, most notably trading for cornerback Darrelle Revis, expectations have been raised in Tampa Bay. Anything less than a playoff berth will surely be considered a disappointment for the organization, and Freeman will be the best barometer for the team’s success or failure. It’s unclear what it would take for general manager Mark Dominik to consider starting negotiations on a contract extension, but if Freeman plays well and is on track to lead the Buccaneers to double-digit regular season wins that process may start fairly quickly.
If the Buccaneers stage a legitimate competition for the starting job between Freeman and Glennon during training camp, it will be interesting to see how Schiano chooses to deploy the two signal callers during preseason games. I expect Freeman to put together a good season in 2013 and set himself up to get a lucrative new contract, but a significant injury or exceedingly poor play would surely alter his long-term future in Tampa Bay.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.