The Cost Of Doing Business

June 5th, 2020

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The football’s in Devonta Freeman’s court.

If he’s truly on his game, he won’t fumble away this opportunity.

If he’s realistic, he’ll realize that signing with the Bucs is the smart move at this stage of his career. If he’s practical, he’ll understand NFL teams are not lining up to shower him with the kind of money Freeman is accustomed to.

After making $24 million since the Falcons drafted him in 2014, Freeman would be wise to swallow some pride, lower his sights and give Bruce Arians a fighting chance to provide Jason Licht with the go-ahead to sign him as a free agent running back.

Ira Kaufman notes that Dare Ogunbowale and Ronald Jones have never done once what Devonta Freeman did four times last year.

Freeman fills a need for Tampa Bay, but only at the right price. Arians indicated as much on Thursday, when he had a chance to categorically deny any interest in the former Florida State standout.

But Freeman only makes sense for the Bucs if he comes to grips with economic reality.

Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson, who are running toward Canton, aren’t breaking the bank anymore in NFL terms. The Jets signed Gore to a $1.05 million base salary while Peterson will make $2.25 million after the Redskins exercised their 2020 option.

Trust Factor

Freeman’s best days as a runner are likely behind him and he certainly doesn’t bring the same body of work as Peterson or Gore. He averaged only 3.6 yards per carry in 2019, well behind Ronald Jones, and injuries are starting to be a concern.

But Freeman has value as a receiver out of the backfield, a trusted target for Matt Ryan who excels in an area of need for Tampa Bay. During his 6-year career, Freeman has caught 79 percent of the passes sent his way, a gaudy figure that reflects reliable hands and an ability to shake free.

Even last season, when his running skills diminished, Freeman had 59 receptions and four TD catches. Neither Jones nor Dare Ogunbowale has ever reached an NFL end zone after catching a pass.

During his unrivaled 20-year run under center, Tom Brady developed a knack for keeping drives alive by throwing to New England backs. You can trace a line from Kevin Faulk to Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and James White — they were all accomplished receivers out of the backfield.

In the past four years, White averaged 94 targets, 69 catches, 32 first downs and five TDs through the air. He was a big reason why the Patriots ranked No. 3 in time of possession last year, despite a pedestrian ground game.

Reality time for Freeman court, explains Ira.

White kept moving the chains and for Brady to be at his best, the Bucs require a third-down back with effective receiving skills. Is there one on the current roster? Maybe.

Behind Jones and Ogunbowale are a couple of draft picks who have yet to catch a pass on the pro level. Freeman has caught 257 of ’em. He has also caught Tampa Bay’s attention, but only if the price is right.

The Bucs are playing this the right way. Freeman could be a valuable addition, but he has to be honest with himself and lower his demands. He’s not happy with the reports from his agent, who needs to be honest and remind Freeman that his last 1,000-yard season came in 2016, marking his second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.

By NFL standards, that’s a century ago.

Listen To The Street

Freeman says he has no intentions of retiring, so why not join up with the Brady Bunch, remain in the NFC South and fill a key role for a franchise teeming with hype and expectations? Bet on yourself with an incentive-laden contract and earn Brady’s trust on third down and in the red zone.

Freeman doesn’t like what he’s hearing from the marketplace. Tough. He’s not the first veteran to hit free agency and be disappointed by the offers — or have we already forgotten about Jameis Winston?

Freeman and the Bucs could form a short-term marriage that benefits both sides, but Tampa Bay has the leverage. There are other options for Arians, if need be. Tampa Bay’s rookie backs could shine in training camp and the preseason, flashing receiving skills.

If Freeman is serious about playing this fall, he needs to make an adjustment. Free agency is about what you can do going forward, not what you’ve done in the past.

It’s also about the cost of doing business, and right now that is costing Freeman an opportunity to flourish at One Buc Place.

Bill Currie Ford
5815 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Tampa, FL 33614

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford, where the stunning offers and 0% interest rates are waiting for you. Click on Ira to visit, where GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally.

22 Responses to “The Cost Of Doing Business”

  1. gp Says:

    I’m thinking that special teams play might be a part of the equation as well

  2. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Freeman is damaged goods as I said earlier.

    There’s a very good reason he’ still out there just like Cam Newton.

    Over-valuing yourself or your product is fine as long as you know that there is an end game and if you don’t adjust to the market then you might just price yourself right out of it and in Freeman’s case….that could be a lower amount that teams are offering him right now or he’ll just go unsigned.

  3. Darin Says:

    No thanks

  4. Hawk Says:

    As I see it…
    This is Freeman’s opportunity to look like a premier RB again. The Buccaneer offense is loaded from the QB down. If he takes a 1-year team-friendly salary, he could end this season with multiple teams stalking his agent.

  5. 40TDs Says:

    Humbling times

  6. TOM Says:

    League minimum for a vet.

  7. DanBucsFan Says:

    I agree with you Ira. I think that his best days are more than likely behind him but he can add value to our team as a veteran who can help show the young Bucs like Vaughn and Rojo a few tricks of the trade, also he is a proven threat as a receiver out of the backfield and is far better insurance in the running game than Dare. However Dare is a solid contributor on teams and solid in the locker room as well.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    $7.50 above Frank Gore money should be about right…..just enough to assuage his delicate ego….

  9. Buc15 Says:

    1.5 mil

  10. bucsince79 aka bumaneer Says:

    I hope that one of the rookie RB,s can catch… I gotta believe that TB12 will be perfecting his craft with what we have…

  11. bojim Says:

    Right on Ira.

  12. Kalind Says:

    Isn’t Lamar Miller available? As a nole I’d obv prefer freeman to a Cane, but it’s not like Miller is a schlub.

  13. Steven007 Says:

    Tampabaybuc, haha, funny but very true.

  14. Clean House Says:

    I bet the guy can still run at a high level….

  15. stpetebucsfan Says:

    He could milk two more successful years out of his career as Brady’s target out of the backfield. He wouldn’t be tasked with running between the tackles which would hopefully aid in holding injuries down and extending his career…which if he plays his cards correctly will be two years fetching the pigskin for Brady.

    Block and catch and earn a few million over the next two years.

  16. Buc4evr Says:

    $1mil with a signing bonus of $500k and incentives. Wouldn’t go any higher as the guy is injury prone and isn’t an every down back anymore.

  17. Buczilla Says:

    Good article Ira. I’ll keep slamming my head against the wall for us to sign this dude until another team does. He’s not as good as he used to be but he’s better than anything else that we have at running back until the young guys prove otherwise. Holding candlelight vigils and praying to your gods for our current stable of running backs to suddenly become worthy starters is just about dumb and irresponsible thinking by our front office. Sign him Licht!

    Look, if the guy is trying to extort us for a huge, long-term deal then pass on him. If he takes an incentive laden deal where he can make up to 4-6 million, then he is worth it.

  18. BringBucsBack Says:

    I am not advocating for a large contract for Freeman here but, what happened to Gronk giving the Bucs a team-friendly contract & coming off of some of that $10m to improve his new team? I thought Gronk’s exorbitant contract restructure was the answer to the question; “where do we get the money to sign that guy.”, whoever the prospective FA may be. Gronk was traded. So his contract came with him. –Joe

    Licht-brain will find a way to pay Freeman too much, before a handful of viable veteran RBs become available after roster cut downs!

    Can Freeman or the rookies block?

  19. Swampbuc Says:

    Freeman can’t pass block. Basically he’s not getting money thrown at him because he sucks.

  20. unbelievable Says:

    Can’t understand why you guys are all hit in the last ya for freeman.

    He’s clearly way past his prime, and was never a good pass blocker either.

  21. unbelievable Says:


    *hot in the pants* for Freeman.

    Damn autocorrect

  22. ToesOnTheLine!!! Says:

    Two consecutive years of either injury and/or not performing as well as guys making a fraction of the money will tend to lead to not a lot of NFL offers for a 29 year old RB. I saw Lamar Miller mentioned by another poster, and I’ve been hoping the Bucs will get this guy in for a physical by team doctors and if healthy a workout. Outside of the torn ACL that ended his 2019 season before it really even began he’s been pretty durable and productive (even was a pro bowl alternate in 2018). If healthy Miller might still be able to contribute in a committee RB1A/RB2 role with RoJo likely in the RB1 role. I’m just not as confident Freeman could offer the same looking at the body of work over the past two seasons?