TAMPA — The Josh Freeman experiment in Minnesota failed miserably.
But coach Leslie Frazier, who was fired after a 5-10-1 season then became Bucs defensive coordinator, praised Freeman on Wednesday, saying he was a "pro" and the situation "probably wasn't fair."
Freeman, signed by the Vikings for $3 million after his October release from Tampa Bay, made one start (20-for-53, no touchdowns and one interception in an Oct. 21 loss to the Giants) and didn't play after that.
"Josh did a lot of good things for us in that short time that we had," Frazier said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out where we got him a lot of snaps in ball games. He worked as hard as he could every week to try to prepare and be ready to go. He was a pro in every sense of the word in that way.
"But we made a decision to try to figure out where Christian Ponder was and also take a look at Matt Cassel. It probably wasn't the fairest situation for him. It made it difficult for him; made it difficult for all of us as we were trying to evaluate quarterbacks in an NFL season. That's not a wise thing."
Frazier believes Freeman, 26, the Bucs' 2009 first-round pick and four-year starter, has a future in the NFL.
"He's still young," Frazier said. "He's shown glimpses of it in his time (in Tampa). I think he can be a solid starting quarterback in our league."
BOUNCE BACK: Considering how Frazier's Vikings made the playoffs at 10-6 in 2012, he said he was disappointed to get fired after just three seasons. "It was a challenge," he said. "You don't feel like you're that far away."
Frazier said he thought about taking a year off but is excited to work with new Bucs coach Lovie Smith and a defense that has "some pieces you can build with."
Frazier pointed to DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David at "two positions critical to the success of this defense." Though Frazier said his defense will look a lot like Smith's in Chicago and play its share of Cover 2 zone, he also will "maximize the talents" of CB Darrelle Revis.
"There's always room in any system for great players," Frazier said.
IN THE END: Frazier said that in a "pass-happy" league, it's critical to have a great edge pass rusher. And Frazier knows one potential free agent really well, Vikings DE Jared Allen, whom he has coached since 2008.
"We have a great relationship. I have a lot of respect for Jared as a player and as a man," Frazier said of Allen, who made $14.3 million in 2013. "He did a lot to help me when I was a defensive coordinator. Let's see what happens with his future."
MISCELLANY: Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford said the Bucs are finalizing a tight ends coach and solidifying an offensive line coach, the last two spots on Smith's staff. … Frazier said Larry Marmie, who coached Smith at Tulsa, will work with the Bucs' nickel defensive backs.