Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Josh Freeman in no hurry to talk extension

TAMPA — Quarterback Josh Freeman does some of his best work in the no-huddle offense, but when it comes to talk about a contract extension, there's no call for the hurry-up.

Neither Freeman nor the Bucs are interested in negotiating a new deal until at least 2013, according to his father, Ron Freeman, an agent for CAA who handles his son's contract.

"We haven't had any discussions about it," Ron Freeman said. "I think there's no rush. Obviously, we want to have something done by 2013. It's really kind of wait and see. I don't think either side feels like there's any reason to do something before then."

Freeman, 24, has reason to wait. Not only does he have two years remaining on his contract that pays $8.585 million in salary and bonus this season and $10.45 million in 2013, but he's coming off a 16-touchdown, 22-interception season.

With the addition of marquee free agents such as Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Saints guard Carl Nicks, Freeman is eager to improve under new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, the former Giants quarterbacks coach. He's also only a year removed from leading the Bucs to a 10-6 record with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

Despite committing $140.5 million in the first two days of the free agent signing period, the Bucs are still close to $20 million under the salary cap.

Locking up Freeman for additional years might not be a bad way for the Bucs to go. The Jets recently signed quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was taken 12 spots higher than Freeman in the 2009 draft, to a three-year extension.

However, a closer look at Sanchez's contract shows that it was done mostly to give the Jets relief on the salary cap. His $11.75 million salary for 2012 was converted to an $8 million signing bonus and guaranteed base salaries of $3.25 million and $8.25 million over the next two years. The Jets received three years from Sanchez in exchange for those guarantees.

That agreement with Sanchez was also made before the Jets traded this week for Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

In addition to the new weapons, Freeman knows he and the Bucs will benefit from a complete offseason and an extra minicamp under new coach Greg Schiano. Last offseason, Freeman decided to organize a three-day minicamp at IMG Academies during the lockout, arranging the use of practice fields and contacting players.

"It's kind of an interesting predicament with the new CBA," Freeman said in an interview with Sirius XM radio. "We're not allowed to really meet with our coaches until April 16. But we're allowed to go in and start hitting the weights and things of that nature on April 2."

With no lockout, general manager Mark Dominik believes Freeman will return to his 2010 form in 2012.

"A lot of the second-year (starting) quarterbacks didn't play their best ball last year," Dominik said recently. "Maybe guys like (the Rams' Sam) Bradford didn't play their best ball and Sanchez. Certainly Josh. I think it did have an effect on the younger quarterbacks in our league. But now it's in the past, and it's what you do going forward."

The Lions face the same predicament with quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009. He also gave the Lions cap relief with a restructuring, but his six-year, $78 million contract still expires after 2014. The difference is his cap number next season is $20.3 million, which could prompt the Lions to seek a new long-term contract.

Right now, Freeman is just optimistic the Bucs' payout to players such as Jackson and Nicks will eventually pay off.

"I remember going in for the press conference," Freeman said. "Both guys were in the building, just having that feel like it was Christmas, like you just got some new toys and you couldn't wait to go out and play with them."

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