It’s looking likely to be a messy divorce between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman reportedly missed the team photo at the beginning of the month, was not voted a team captain by his teammates and a report on Sunday morning from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports suggests he will request a trade ahead of October’s NFL trade deadline. Add in that the team is now 0-2 after a 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, a game in which Freeman went 9-for-22 for 125 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and some changes seem likely to come.
For what it’s worth, Freeman denied he will request a trade in Sunday’s post-game press conference. Head coach Greg Schiano also had to deny that Freeman was not voted a captain because of missed meetings, but I don’t think any other answer could be expected from either man.
Freeman is in the final year of his rookie contract, but the Buccaneers have made no substantial effort to sign him to an extension and seem content to let him leave after the season. But if there is an opportunity to acquire something of value before that point, while ridding themselves of a headache during a season that has started off on the wrong foot, I think general manager Mark Dominik would have to listen.
Should the Minnesota Vikings have interest in Freeman?
The Vikings have their own issues at quarterback, but only on the field with Christian Ponder not playing well for most of their two losses to start the season. It may only be a matter of time before backup Matt Cassel replaces Ponder, but based solely on physical tools and upside potential Freeman is an upgrade over both of Minnesota’s signal callers.
If the Buccaneers are willing to take a late-round draft pick in exchange for Freeman, plenty of teams will surely have interest in the former first-round pick. But the Vikings may be in a better position than most teams, with a potential trade chip who could be a short-term solution while Tampa Bay continues to groom rookie Mike Glennon as their eventual starting quarterback. The Vikings should absolutely consider parting with their own former first-round pick, Ponder, if it would bring Freeman into the fold.
It’s worth mentioning that the Vikings, by all indications, have good locker room harmony right now. The situation surrounding wide receiver Percy Harvin late last season, which culminated in an offseason trade to the Seattle Seahawks, proves they are willing to remove players who may threaten that. Based on recent events Freeman may not add to that team chemistry, particularly if Ponder is traded and has any support left on the team, but he and Schiano have never seemed like a good pairing and I think a change of scenery would benefit both young quarterbacks.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.