Buccaneers Release Josh Freeman


According to Adam Schefter of ESPN the Buccaneers have released QB Josh Freeman after weeks of a pretty toxic situation following the benching of the young QB.

As a vested veteran the Buccaneers should be liable for his full salary for the season, meaning they still owe him $6.4 million dollars. There is a way that the team can avoid that payment if they have warned the player about his effort, but since no reports on that had leaked previously I would not think that is the case in this situation.

Freeman will now be free to sign with any team in the NFL. the minimum a team must pay Freeman is $715,000 which would be prorated for the remainder of the season. That only works out to $546,765 on the year, meaning every team in the NFL could be in play for Freeman. Considering Freeman should earn his full salary from the Bucs it would be in his best interest to sign with another team as quickly as possible in hopes of playing this season.

I would imagine that, at this price, the Raiders would be very interested in looking at Freeman as a backup to Terrelle Pryor. Freeman has a relationship with the Raiders’ offensive coordinator and could fit in the offense easily. I could potentially see at this price the Bengals thinking that Freeman would make a better insurance policy than Josh Johnson as the backup to Andy Dalton. Another team of note could be the Browns looking to cover all bases in the event Brian Hoyer comes back to earth. I firmly believe Jacksonville should be looking at anyone at QB and to get a look at Freeman first hand for this cheap would be a good deal for them, but for some reason they don’t seem very interested in looking outside of Blaine Gabbert at the moment.


Are the Buccaneers Looking to Avoid Paying Josh Freeman?


Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter reported today that the Buccaneers have fined QB Josh Freeman and could be looking to suspend Freeman, who the Buccaneers clearly do not want around the team anymore.

Under the terms of the CBA an NFL team has the right to suspend a player for up to 4 games for conduct detrimental to the team. Teams are supposed to treat all players the same in regards to fines and punishments, but in the case of suspensions a team seems to have more leeway in that regard. If a player is a repeat offender, being routinely fined for the same offense, the club can impose the suspension penalty if it so chooses. Based on Trotter’s article this would seem to be exactly what the Buccaneers are doing with multiple fines laying the groundwork for a notice of suspension.

I believe it may go even further than that. While the Buccaneers are trying to trade Freeman they have mishandled the situation so badly that there is no market for him anymore. The relationship is toxic and every team in the NFL knows this. Maybe Tampa feels by sending him away they can repair the damage and convince a team that they should give up a pick for Freeman, but that is unlikely. They must know their only option is release of the player.

The problem with that avenue is the fact that Freeman has enough years in the NFL to be eligible for Termination Pay, which means the balance of his salary for the year is fully guaranteed. That amount is $6.446 million. Even if he signed with another team the Buccaneers would have to pay that full amount once Freeman requested it.  A 4 game suspension saves them $1.983 million of the remaining salary reducing the cost of release to $4.46 million once his suspension ends.

However there is a route by which the Buccaneers can avoid Termination Pay if the player is not exhibiting a “good faith effort” to honor his obligations to the team. From Appendix I of the CBA:

The Club hereby provides you with written notice that you are failing to exhibit the level of good faith effort which can be reasonably expected from players on this Club. If you do not demonstrate the good faith effort which can be reasonably expected from players on this Club, you will not be entitled to Termination Pay under Article 30 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement if you are terminated before the end of this season

The Buccaneers may be setting up a paperwork trail of fines due to reported conduct that would allow them to release Freeman and avoid paying the remainder of his salary.  He is at the stage where he is being warned now and I’d imagine any further fines would indicate a lack of good faith on his part to be a contributing member of the team.

So while this is just speculation on my part, the situation has grown so bad between the two sides that I could certainly see this being in play as they look to avoid payment of any money owed to Freeman in the future.

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Examining the Potential Landing Spots for Josh Freeman


With Josh Freeman’s benching official we now turn some attention  to possible landing spots for the QB. Right off the bat I do feel that the Buccaneers really mishandled the situation.  If they were this down on Freeman to bench him this quickly they should have explored the trade market months ago when he still had value. Giving up on him kills his trade value to the point where you are now just hoping to dump a player that was drafted in the first round in 2009.

I do think a possible scenario could be one in which the Bucs sit and wait until the trade deadline hoping that a starter gets injured and makes picking up Freeman a necessity. That would be the maximized return in terms of trade value. But this is not going to be Carson Palmer to the Raiders. Palmer had retired from football and not had an opportunity to QB a team expected to do well and then been the primary person blamed for failure. They will give up something, but it’s going to be more like a 5th or 6th round pick, not a 2nd rounder.

From a draft pick for player trade perspective I think all sides will look at the possibility of compensatory draft picks. Right now Freeman is damaged goods but players like Vince Young and Jason Campbell were able to fetch close to $4 million a year while Kyle Boller even made $1.5 million, so it’s possible that compensatory picks could be awarded if he hits free agency. If the Buccaneers think they will receive a compensatory 5th in the 2015 draft they  should be willing to take a 5th in 2014 for him. A 6th could even get it done. Those same teams might look at this as a one season delay on the draft pick since they would then hold Freeman’s free agent rights and receive that compensatory pick in the 2015 draft.

Thus far I don’t think there are any rumors of serious interest anywhere, but why not look ahead anyway and focus on the five teamsthat most  fans are talking about.

Minnesota Vikings

I don’t really see this as being an ideal trade partner. While Christian Ponder is not lighting the world on fire in Minnesota he is not the biggest issue on a team that gives up 30 points to the Browns and cant place a body on a receiver on a fake FG attempt. The Vikings are 0-3 and what reason would there be to believe that Freeman, who flopped on a playoff potential team, would come in here and rescue the season?

The other issue here is the cap space issue. Josh Freeman will cost $6.94 million in cap space to a team that acquires him. The Vikings have just $2.3 million. I would imagine if you are trading for Freeman the need for either Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder disappears. The Vikings could include Cassel in a trade and cut about $1.4 million from the payroll, but that still would not be enough to make the trade happen. Ponder would free even less room but the Vikings would also pass along $1.7 million in fully guaranteed 2014 salary to the Bucs, making him perhaps a more reasonable candidate.

I would think to make it work they would move Ponder for Freeman and have to make the salaries match. Trading Ponder transfers $2,829,645 in guaranteed salary to the Buccaneers. In turn the Buccaneers would need to pay $4,112,708 of Freeman’s salary before executing a trade. That would bring the cash and cap commitment for the Vikings to $2.829 million, giving them just enough room to execute a Ponder for Freeman trade. I actually think the Vikings would want something beyond Freeman to do that trade, but Ponder has also become a scapegoat so maybe not.

The Vikings do have a number of high cost players who could also have their contracts reworked to open up the cap space necessary to make the trade if they did not want to part with any players on the team. The Vikings have a low payroll in 2014 so franchising Freeman is a realistic option.

Oakland Raiders

If this was April I think the Raiders would have been interested. Greg Olson, the Raiders Offensive Coordinator, has a relationship with Freeman when the two were together in Tampa and he got the best out of Freeman. But Oakland already whiffed once in the trade market and now have seen Terrelle Pryor at least be capable enough to warrant more opportunity. Pryor did suffer a concussion this past Monday and those injuries can be very tricky. If the Raiders think it could be a long term setback for Pryor this could be a reasonable option.

Like with the Vikings, the trade is complicated because of salary cap constraints as the Raiders only have $3.1 million in room. It is probably further complicated because the Raiders are not going to spend more draft picks on the position as they have wasted picks in trades for Palmer and Flynn in recent years. I would think this would need to be a pure player for player trade with Flynn going to Tampa and Freeman to Oakland. Flynn only makes $1.25 million so again we have a scenario where the Buccaneers are going to need to eat significant salary, somewhere between $2.8 and $3.8 million to make the numbers work.

Oakland does not have the financial flexibility to rework contracts to make the deal work without Tampa kicking in significant money. I guess an outside the box thought would be trading Darren McFadden and his salary to the Buccaneers, but that seems counterproductive for both sides.  If Tampa does not foot the bill Oakland would, most likely, have to sign Freeman to an extension. Since Freeman’s value right now is so low Oakland could be willing to do that if Freeman was willing to sign off on it. Oakland’s payroll is next to nothing in 2014 so adding money to that year, even via a void provision, would not impact them one bit.

Jacksonville Jaguars

In my mind this makes sense simply because the Jaguars are so bad and have the worst QB situation in the NFL. But the Jaguars have not really made any changes to their team and seem to be simply playing for the draft at this point, making this a move they will not want to make. Unlike the first two teams Freeman would be a clear upgrade to both Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, but that could potentially compromise their ability to cruise to the first pick in the draft. There is no reason for the Jaguars to think that Freeman is a franchise QB and they are simply treading water until they get the opportunities to build the team in a manner they feel champions are built.

The Jaguars have more than enough cap room to take Freeman on but unless they just want to throw a bone to their fanbase there is no reason for them to make this trade. It would be a surprise if they made this move.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland already moved on from Brandon Weeden in favor of Brian Hoyer, so I guess the question here is how high are the Browns on Hoyer, who played well last Sunday, and how low are they on Weeden. The Browns owe Weeden $2.44 million in fully guaranteed salary in 2014 and 2015 and a trade involving Weeden lets them pass those obligations on to another team, which is what they did with Trent Richardson. Would they consider that a fair swap?  I’m not sure as  they may prefer getting a late draft pick for Weeden than a player like Freeman. The Browns have plenty of cap space this year and next so applying the tag or extending Freeman would work without problem.

I would keep an eye on the Browns closer to the trade deadline if Freeman is still riding the bench in Tampa Bay. The Browns division does not look  to be strong this year and the Browns do have a solid defense that will keep them in games. If Hoyer proves to be a one game wonder but the Browns tread water and sit at 3-4 with a solid defense Freeman could be worth a gamble. At the worst it is throwing away a player you have already given up on for someone who could be more than just a stopgap for the season.

Tennessee Titans

I have seen the Titans name mentioned before, and they have just enough cap room to pull this trade off, but I’m not really sure there is a fit. I feel as if the Titans would like to continue to give Jake Locker a look and if he was to fail would be prepared to turn the reigns over to Ryan Fitzpatrick in hopes of being able to make the playoffs.  Going forward the Titans have enough salary cap commitments to where having cap rollover dollars are more important than bringing Freeman onto the roster. Those same cap commitments likely eliminate the Franchise tag and any extensions before free agency. I only see this as a destination if both Locker and Fitzpatrick were to get injured.

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How Freeman’s Benching Impacts Him and the Team Moving Forward


According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benched starting QB Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon following a terrible 0-3 start and poor QB play. Based on reading tweets during Sunday’s game against New England it seemed as if the Buccaneers were prepared to make the switch in the second half as multiple people reported Glennon warming up on the sidelines. Whether they thought better of it or wanted to give Freeman one more chance to save his job, most likely the decision was made at that point.

For Freeman this is a crushing blow. Freeman was set to enter free agency after this season and was hoping to get a big money contract. Barring a trade this move will likely destroy his value in free agency. Freeman has been up and down his entire career since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft and the lasting memories will be the bad start before being benched in favor of a mid round draft pick after just three games.

Free agency has not really been very kind to players who failed to finish out a season as a starter and were subsequently signed to new deals. On one end of the spectrum were question mark players such as David Carr of the Texans and Mark Sanchez of the Jets who were able to parlay shaky starts of their careers into more job security. But the list of other names which includes first rounders such as Matt Leinart, Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, Rex Grossman and Jason Campbell is extensive and the contract propositions were not strong.

For example Leinart signed a 1 year contract with the Texans worth $1 million after being released by the Cardinals. Harrington would be traded to the Dolphins where he would sign an extension worth just $2.87 million per season. Grossman signed a one year contract with Chicago for $3 million while Leftwich received a two year $3 million per year deal from the Falcons. In contrast the Texans were willing to execute a buyback that would guarantee Carr an additional $8 million while the Jets guaranteed Sanchez over $19 million in his extension.

Freeman is going to need to get back on the field to increase his earning potential. He needs to have his name put back into the equation for teams considering a younger QB with some upside in his game. This is likely only going to happen via trade. Freeman should be able to find a team willing to take a chance on him as the relationship between he and Coach Greg Schiano was poor and Freeman’s coaching in general has been somewhat haphazard. Teams can at least look at this as a reasonable reclamation project.

Tampa Bay probably damaged what little trade value he had by benching him, but there has always been a premium paid for QB’s so it should not be far fetched to imagine a mid round pick being used to acquire him. Teams will not be scared off by his free agent status because they still have the franchise tag at their disposal plus they can always sign him to an extension if he plays well. The cost of such a trade will probably be determined by what the Bucs feel they could earn in a compensatory pick if he signs elsewhere as a free agent in 2014. Tampa most likely will not be as active in free agency due to their salary cap in 2014 so a compensatory pick is a realistic option. If they feel they will get a 5th rounder a team inquiring to trade for him will need to part with that pick.

Freemans cost at the moment in terms of cash and cap for a trade partner is $6.94 million. Nine teams could currently afford to absorb that number on their books.  Of those nine the only one that would be interested would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another option, however, would be for the Buccanners to prepay some of Freeman’s salary to facilitate a trade. This would be reasonable if the situation in Tampa is so toxic that they have to move him. By eating $5 million of his remaining money it could bring life to a trade with a team like the Minnesota Vikings.

For Tampa Bay this may be as much about salvaging this season as it is the future of the team. Getting a look at Glennon now gives Tampa insight into how the team responds to him. How he prepares dueing the week. How he accepts the responsibility of a starting job. I believe there is much more that can be evaluated with a rookie actually starting outside of just the on the field results, which many times are poor. If he fails to meet their internal expectations it gives Tampa the information that they would not have had by letting him ride the bench which could lead to different personnel decisions in 2014. Tampa could look to acquire a player in free agency or a high pick in the draft so knowing what they have is important. For example had the Raiders been able to get a look a Terrelle Pryor they probably never would have executed the trade for Matt Flynn. Tampa most likely wants to avoid those scenarios.

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Stock Down: Week 2


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have hurt their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Josh Freeman– Freeman has had a rough few weeks as numerous outlets are reporting that there is a major rift between him and his head coach. According to Jason LaCanfora Freemen is seeking a trade, but with games like this it could be a limited market. 9 completions and 22 attempts for 125 yards is brutal. He had a costly interception and was all over the field with some of his passes. If not for a penalty Vincent Jackson would have helped his stat line tremendously, but if you watched that play 99% of the credit would go to Jackson who had to come back on a badly thrown ball and shield out the defender from making an interception. One or two more games like this and Freeman wont be playing at the end of the season, basically the doomsday scenario for a player looking for a new contract.

Maurice Jones-Drew– Last season MJD held out as long as he possibly could as he hoped to pand a contract extension that would increase his pay rate from good to back towards the top of the NFL. The Jaguars and their new ownership held firm and have forced him to honor his contract which expires at the end of the season. After an injury last year MJD needed to bounce back and have a big season.  Working with no quarterback, Jones-Drew I would imagine looked at this as an opportunity to showcase that he could help a team with a developing QB or slide into a playoff caliber team and do extremely well with the presence of a strong QB lessening the defenses attention to the run. Through two games MJD looks to be nothing more than a replacement back on a bad team. This week Jones-Drew finished with just 27 yards on 10 carries and added just 1 receiving yard. While these types of games often plague many runners, back to back games for MJD like this is something he has never really done before. If he doesn’t right the ship soon he may struggle to find a job next season.

Cam Newton– It was just two years ago when Newton burst onto the scene and after two games looked to be the new age version of Dan Marino, as Newton threw for over 400 yards in back to back games.  That player is completely gone right now and with it are the thoughts of any kind of early extension that could have come after the season. Newton has now become somewhat of an afterthought when we think about the young QB in the NFL. It’s not all his fault as his coaches seem to be trying to turn him into a game manager of sorts. Against the Bills Newton was sacked 6 times and only completed 55.8% of his attempts for just 229 yards. The team had to settle for field goals most of the day and rightly or wrongly he is going to get most of the blame for the day.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Greg Toler– Every time I saw a big Mike Wallace highlight I seemed to see Toler running 3 or 4 yards behind him, including the big TD catch and run. Wallace was unable to get on track against the Browns in week 1, but decimated the Colts going for 115 yards, 81 of which came against Toler according to Pro Football Focus. Toler was brought in this offseason and given $5 million guaranteed, which in the sluggish CB market was actually considered pretty good money. He’ll need to put forth a better effort for the Colts this season especially if he is going to match up with the most dangerous target on each team.

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Report: Josh Freeman to Seek Trade


According to CBS Sports Jason LaCanfora Buccaneers starting QB Josh Freeman is expected to ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a trade. Freeman has struggled to earn the confidence of his head coach and there seemed to be a growing rift following the week 1 loss to the New York Jets in which Freeman struggled.

Asking for a trade during the season for a starting QB is pretty much unheard of in the NFL. The Bengals Carson Palmer had looked for a trade or his outright release from the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, but that process began before the season.  Palmer had realized the Bengals were moving in a different direction with the drafting of Andy Dalton in the 2nd round which led to Palmer retiring for a brief period in 2011. Eventually the Oakland Raiders did trade for Palmer during the season when starter Jason Campbell was injured.  Freeman’s situation could be considered somewhat similar in that Tampa Bay seemed to draft an insurance policy in rookie Mike Glennon, a 3rd round selection in 2013.

Freeman is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2014 and needs a big season to cash in on his first round value. Both Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez, drafted ahead of him in the 2009 NFL Draft, have been able to cash in on their first round draft status and accomplishments, something Freeman will not be able to do if he gets benched or if the team does not trust him enough to be given the opportunity to show improved statistics.

It is hard to tell exactly what the market would be for Freeman. I have already seen many people say teams would not give up much for him because he is in a contract year, but that should be of almost no concern. Usually if you trade for a player you will immediately extend the players contract. Just this past season the Seattle Seahawks gave up a first round draft pick for Percy Harvin who was also in the walk year of his contract and they quickly turned around and signed him to a lucrative extension.

This has been very typical in the NFL when dealing with QB traded. Kevin Kolb had one year remaining on his contract when the Arizona Cardinals traded for him in 2011. They promptly extended him after the trade. The same occurred with Matt Cassel in 2009 when he was traded from New England to Kansas City as a Franchise player. The Bears added more years onto Jay Cutler’s contract after executing a trade with the Denver Broncos.

Teams also will consider the fact that even though he is a free agent the Franchise tag will always be an option for a full one year look at Freeman before committing big dollars to him.  So the term of the contract is not an issue.

What kind of value he has would be more of a problem. The going price for a player like Freeman would likely be a 2nd round draft pick, which Tampa Bay may not accept. They will likely want a 1st rounder which could be difficult to obtain. They could make it conditional and tie it in with performance or the signing of a contract extension, but if Freeman is indeed seeking a trade the Buccaneers may not have much leverage to execute the trade.

Freeman’s base salary this season is $8,430,000, so a team would need to have at least $7,438,235 million in cap room if they were to execute a trade next week. As of September 13 only 10 teams have the cap room needed to execute that trade. Of those teams the interesting names would be the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams have poor QB situations and significant salary cap space to spend this season. The Browns are about $24 million under the cap and the Jaguars are close to $18 million. Other teams whose names could be linked to such a trade would be the Raiders and Vikings, but neither has the cap room to execute a trade without including players or restructuring contracts. The Vikings have just $2.2 million in cap room while the Raiders have $3.25 million prior to the extension of FB Marcel Reece. The Vikings, in theory, could extend DE Jared Allen to make the trade happen but that would seem unlikely. Oakland would have a much more difficult route with Darren McFadden being the likely candidate.  Teams could also consider a sign and trade type agreement, but that requires a fast extension for Freeman and many moving parts would be needed to come together for that to occur.

View Josh Freeman’s Contract and Salary Cap Page

View Josh Freeman’s Financial Charts

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Stock Down: Week 1


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have hurt their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Blaine Gabbert– Gabbert is basically fighting for his career at this stage and is close to running the risk that the Jaguars will not even invoke the 5th year injury protected option for him. While there is little to lose by picking up the option I don’t think a team will want to even chance him being injured and paid on the sidelines when the upside looks to be so minimal. For Gabbert to have any kind of chance at a new contract in the future for more than the minimum he needs to do enough to at least keep his job in Jacksonville. 16 of 35 for 121 yards, two interceptions, and 6 sacks isn’t going to help his cause whatsoever.  Gabbert’s $2.011 million dollar salary in 2014 is guaranteed but with all the cap room that the Jaguars have they could just pay him to go home if this continues. If things get so bad that he gets cut his career will probably be finished.

Isaac Redman– Redman is playing the year out on a RFA tender and if he matched last years production should be capable of a mid tier contract in free agency. Unfortunately for Redman he never got anything going against the Titans, rushing 8 times for just 9 yards and not being a factor in the passing game, usually his best asset. His fumble around the goal was a big momentum changer and the Steelers never really recovered.  Injuries have already taken their toll on the Steelers running game, but after the game the perception is that Redman can not be a solution and the Steelers should look outside of the organization for help.  The lower end of running back market was already shrinking in 2013 and Redman will need to perform better over the next 15 weeks to gain that new contract.

Josh Freeman– While it would be easy to blame everything on Lavonte David, and he is clearly the guy who was directly responsible for the final loss, nobody has more riding on this season than Freeman and he was underwhelming to say the least. I’m not sure I have ever seen a QB take back to back delay of game penalties following a time out until Sunday. That sequence eventually led to a 3rd and 35 play. Freeman looked like he forgot the snap leading to an unforced safety on the next possession. While some might point to his leading the team to what seemed like the game winning FG, it was a terrific play by Vincent Jackson rather than the good play of the QB. There may not be a QB more dependent on one WR  than Freeman is on Jackson. Maybe Jay Cutler would be the only other one with Brandon Marshall, but the feeling on Cutler is that he can be passable with others. Freeman runs the risk of teams beginning to believe that he happens to be the recipient of a strong WR that pads what little numbers he has. Freeman will be a free agent in 2014 and needs to do a far better job than he did against the Jets if he wants to get his name into the mid level QB contract discussions.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Mike Wallace– The $60 million dollar man produced all of 15 yards in the first game of the season for the Miami Dolphins. While there are other contributions that he made to the team, specifically pulling the Browns best coverage to help his teammates, those are all nullified by the attitude after the game. There is nothing worse than having an overpaid player complaining after a win  about how he is being used. That is why he belongs in this list even more than the lack of statistics. The last thing the Miami Dolphins need is their version of Santonio Holmes ripping anything the team does because he isn’t getting the looks he wants. Wallace is in a position where he can have his contract restructured next season to ensure he makes even more than his guaranteed salary. More Sundays like this and there is no chance that it happens, no matter how much it impacts the teams salary cap in 2014.