At the mid-point of the 2012 NFL regular season, it appeared that there wasn’t any reason for concern at the quarterback situation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A few months later and a 7-9 season in the books, Josh Freeman’s future with the Buccaneers is anything but secure. Freeman is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and despite being millions under the salary cap, the Buccaneers do not appear ready to hand the Kansas State product a new deal, which should be of some concern to Buccaneers fans.
The current coaching staff has no investment in Freeman, he was drafted by the previous coaching staff and perhaps they don’t believe that he is the quarterback of the future as the staff of Raheem Morris did. On Thursday, the Buccaneers jettisoned backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, a move which cleared $1.5 million in cap space.
Amid weeks of speculation, it is now apparent that the team is going to bring in another quarterback and the only question is whether it will be through the draft or via free agency. If the Buccaneers were going to draft another quarterback, why not keep Orlovsky on the roster until after you are actually able to draft the player that you are targeting?
Perhaps it is more likely that the Buccaneers have already worked out some form of trade for another player they covet. Honestly, the free agent market is dried up for quarterbacks. It wasn’t a strong class this year anyway and although reports suggested that Carson Palmer was interested in joining the Buccaneers, he is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
Are the Buccaneers preparing for a trade to acquire New England Patriots QB Ryan Mallett? There was interest by the Buccaneers mid-March according to the Boston Herald. Ironically, the Buccaneers own the Patriots fourth-round draft choice this season after trading CB Aqib Talib at the trade deadline. The Patriots have no picks in the fourth, fifth or sixth rounds this year after bad decision regarding Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco as well as acquiring Talib.
Another name being tossed around regarding the Buccaneers is Arizona Cardinals QB Brian Hoyer. The former Cardinals quarterback coach, John McNulty is now on the Tampa coaching staff and after acquiring Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer, it appears Hoyer could be available. Hoyer is another former Patriots quarterback and has drawn some solid reviews.
The Michigan State product has received little opportunity for a starting job and appeared in just two games for the Cardinals last season. Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, known for his ability to work with quarterback talent, must not have Hoyer high on his list though as he went out and signed Drew Stanton as well as trading for Carson Palmer. It’s possible that McNulty knows more about Hoyer than Arians does though after coaching him last season. Coming out of college, walterfootball.com suggested that Hoyer has the potential to be a solid starting quarterback during his career.
Long time Buccaneers fans understand the difficulty the team has had finding a franchise quarterback. Yes, the team captured a Super Bowl title with Brad Johnson under center, but that 2002 team was more about a stifling defense and not quarterback play.
On the surface, it appears that changes are coming at the quarterback position for the Buccaneers after this season unless Josh Freeman proves he is worthy of a new long-term deal. He has given fans glimpses of his potential, but can he elevate his game to the next level and become a more consistent signal caller? That is what the coaching staff and fans want to know.