Josh Freeman is finding himself in the same boat as Jay Cutler now and Joe Flacco the year before: He must play for both his job with the team and the lucrativeness of his next contract.
Freeman is approaching the final year of his deal with a tenure that’s had its share of both ups and downs since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009. The 17th overall selection has given Tampa some great reasons to keep him, including the team’s 10-6 mark in 2010, a rallying ability that led to the nickname “Captain Comeback” early in his career, and a prolific stretch in 2012 that saw him throw 16 touchdowns against three interceptions between Week 6 and Week 11 (the Bucs went 5-1).
However, 2012 was a microcosm of Freeman’s inconsistency, as he followed that sublime stretch with six touchdowns against 10 interceptions to close the season on a 1-5 skid. This was so infuriating, it seems, that the team will apparently make Freeman play out the final year of his contract before even talking extension again.
“I think there’s just a comfort level that everybody understands where Josh Freeman’s going,” Bucs general manager Mark Dominik told Tom Krasniqi on WDAE-AM in Tampa. “Let’s focus on this season, and then, we’ll go after the season’s over.”
The Buccaneers certainly mean business, spending a third-rounder this year on quarterback Mike Glennon in a draft where they only held six picks, two in the first three rounds.
At the same time, the ball’s in Freeman’s court. He’s one season away from an incredible payday; now it just comes down to fixing mechanical issues and delivering consistently on immense talent. No pressure.