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.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.