NFL Network studied the Bucs last night during its daily series “32 in 32,” in which every NFL team is examined while the network kills time before NFL training camps open up late next month.
Analysts LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sharper and host Andrew Siciliano dove into the subject of Josh Freeman. Tomlinson and Sharper had very different conclusions as to whether this season is Freeman’s last in Tampa Bay.
Andrew Siciliano: Josh Freeman, some people think he might be a weakness. We do know this: He is in the last year of his contract. Is this his last year, LT, with the Bucs?
LaDainian Tomlinson: I say no. People need to realize and remember that Josh Freeman left early. He left after his junior year at [Kansas] State. He’s still a young player. So he has a lot of football to play. He will continue to throw. I know he has had his ups and downs but here is the thing: At the end of the day, can you find a better quarterback than Josh Freeman. That’s what we are looking at in our league. You only have about five quarterbacks that play at an elite level. The rest of the guys are up and down so be patient. Patience is a virtue with Josh Freeman. I think he will eventually become the guy that can become the leader.
Darren Sharper: I am going to go out on a limb and say he will not be back. This is his last year, partly because of that roller coaster he takes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on. I played against Josh a couple of times and to me, it’s not physical, it seems to be mental with him because he is out there and will go through these streaks that he plays bad and he will not be able to get out of those bad streaks. That, combined with he is not tied to Coach [Greg] Schiano, I think they will try to go out and find Schiano’s guy.
Joe thinks both analysts make salient points. Just what quarterback is available via trade or free agency who will be better than Freeman? That’s why Joe’s pretty sure, barring a horrific 2011-like season, Freeman will return to the Bucs in 2014. It is just a matter of whether he will be franchised or not.
But Sharper has solid takes. As Joe has constantly written, Schiano has no lineage to Freeman; he inherited him. If the Bucs cannot turn Freeman around, you think Schiano will lobby Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik to re-sign Freeman and go down in flames with Freeman? Joe doubts it.
Now Sharper is not the first person to suggest Freeman’s issues are between his ears.
No less an authority than former Bucs signalcaller Shaun King, one of but three Bucs quarterbacks to lead the Bucs to an NFC Championship game, claimed last season that Freeman, who King very much likes, needed a shrink.
Again, Joe is convinced there is no quarterback controversy. Freeman is your Bucs quarterback. How long that will be depends on Freeman himself.
No controversy at all.