Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Freeman on verge of big payday

TAMPA

Even if Bucs QB Josh Freeman only duplicates his production from last season — 4,065 yards, 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions — he would become the NFL's most coveted player in free agency in 2014.

That's what NFL scouts will tell you, and it's easy to see why.

Freeman is only 25 and already has 56 starts. He is 6 feet 6, 235 pounds, and has arm strength, mobility and athleticism.

Freeman's 78 touchdown passes rank first in franchise history. And by the end of 2013, he will likely hold the records for passing attempts and yards.

How rare is it for such a young quarterback to accrue that much experience and production?

"Very rare," Bucs quarterbacks coach John McNulty said. "People talk about consistency. That's all part of it, too, to be that young and have that much responsibility. The city, the team, everybody is looking at you. That's how the position goes. A lot of times that can break a guy.

"Josh was thrown right in the fire right away. He hit it big. He hit it low. There were ups and downs. But I think a lot of other guys could've been broken by that, and he just keeps going. Now when he's got all this experience behind him, people are saying, 'This is it. This is the last year of your contract.' "

Given the contracts signed by quarterbacks this year — the Cowboys' Tony Romo, six years, $108 million, $18 million annual average; the Lions' Matthew Stafford, five years, $76.5 million, $15.3 million average, and the Falcons' Matt Ryan, five years, $103.75 million, $20.75 million average — Freeman is headed for a big payday, barring injury.

Granted, what Freeman lacks on his resume is a playoff appearance. That said, Stafford is 0-1 in the postseason and missed most of his first two seasons with injuries. Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs. Ryan won his first playoff game last season in taking the Falcons to the NFC title game.

So is it shortsighted of the Bucs to allow Freeman to go into his contract year without a new deal?

Aside from the perceived lack of confidence from the organization and the risk of injury, Freeman has more leverage than the Bucs. If he has a great season, Tampa Bay could apply its franchise or transition player tag ($14.896 million/$13.068 million in 2013) and retain Freeman's rights.

But as the Saints discovered a few years ago when they tagged QB Drew Brees, that can have serious salary cap implications. The Bucs have some large contracts on the books for 2014: DT Gerald McCoy, $10.295 million; WR Vincent Jackson, $10 million; LG Carl Nicks, $9.357 million cap hit;, RG Davin Joseph, $6 million, and S Dashon Goldson, $9 million cap hit.

"I love being a Buccaneer," Freeman said. "I love my teammates. I love my coaches. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I'm just trying to be the best Josh Freeman I can be, whether it's in the community, on the football field or in my personal life. I'll let the rest take care of itself."

Or should it have been taken care of already?

Keep an eye on: A converted quarterback from Nebraska-Omaha, TE Zach Miller was plagued by shoulder, knee and foot injuries during his three seasons in Jacksonville. But he has the size (6-4, 245), speed and hands to become a receiving threat. The Bucs also like TE Danny Noble. But as his weight has increased to about 260 pounds, his speed has decreased. Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree, barring injuries, should be the top tight ends.

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

Freeman on verge of big payday 07/27/13 [Last modified: Saturday, July 27, 2013 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  5. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]