With rookie talks heating up, Bucs have work to do on Josh Freeman's contract
In a moment of complete honesty, an NFL general manager would probably concede that negotiating contracts with quarterbacks selected early in the draft ranks only slightly higher than root canals in terms of enjoyable experiences.
The position is the most valuable in the game, but teams prefer to pay based on where a player was drafted rather than according to the position he plays. So, from the outset, the sides have different goals in any quarterback negotiation.
Which brings us to the Bucs and Josh Freeman, their first-round draft pick.
Freeman is one of five remaining Tampa Bay picks who remain unsigned after Xavier Fulton's signing earlier today. Picked 17th overall, you can bet that Freeman's representatives will be looking for more than the $15 million deal ($9 million guaranteed) given to last year's No. 17 pick, Lions OL Gosder Cherilus.
How do we know this?
Consider that last year's No. 18 pick, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco, received a five-year deal with a maximum value of $30 million. Yes, just $8.75 million was guaranteed, but the incentive-laden deal was not your garden-variety rookie contract. In fact, Flacco earned more than $3 million extra last season after the Ravens' postseason run. A prime example of a tough quarterback negotiation is the case of Brady Quinn in 2007. Quinn, who was projected as a top-10 pick, fell to Cleveland at No. 22 but still was the second quarterback chosen. His representatives' tough bargaining stance resulted in an 11-day holdout. That hampered Quinn in his effort to win the starting job in his battle with Derek Anderson.
For these reasons, the Bucs would be wise to start sincere talks with Freeman's camp early, and it's likely they already have given the rash of early signings we're seeing around the league this year. This may not necessarily mean much, but note that the other two quarterbacks drafted in the first round -- No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford and No. 5 pick Mark Sanchez -- are already signed.
Will Freeman be next? Given the intricacies of his negotiations, the odds are probably against it.