Three games into the 2013 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to bench veteran QB Josh Freeman. Former head coach Greg Schiano decided to plug in rookie QB Mike Glennon. This move created a lot of drama surrounding the Buccaneers as the team tried to trade the former first-round selection but eventually released him. Shortly after being released, Freeman was signed to a $2 million dollar single season contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a team desperate to find answers at the quarterback position. He started one game for Minnesota. One has to wonder if Josh Freeman’s NFL career is now over.
Freeman has had 60 career NFL starts, generally enough of a sample size to determine whether a player gets it or not. Freeman doesn’t seem to get it. Schiano drew a lot of fire from talking heads for benching and then ultimately releasing Freeman. I thought some pundits’ heads would explode on ESPN. Warren Sapp on NFL Network was beside himself. It looks as if Schiano made the correct decision.
In the weeks surrounding Freeman’s benching, reports leaked that he was late to many team events and meetings. It was reported that he didn’t show up for the team picture. Now, USA Today is reporting this morning that the same pattern of behavior happened in Minnesota.
USA Today reports, “Four people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports that Freeman was late for numerous meetings in his roughly three months with the Vikings. A third player said Freeman often was among the last players to the facility.”
Freeman was maddeningly inconsistent. He had his flashes of spectacular plays and then would follow those plays up with horrible reads followed by turnovers in bunches. He posted a solid 2010 season with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions but recorded 27 turnovers in 2011, the season Raheem Morris was fired as the Buccaneers head coach. Freeman threw for a franchise record 4,065 yards in 2012 but still turned the ball over 25 times.
While with the Buccaneers, Freeman often appeared to be disconnected from the game. He would sulk off the field after throwing an interception. He showed very little as far as fiery leadership skills in the huddle. He looked as if he simply showed up on Sundays to throw the football, because that was what he was paid to do. He resembled an unhappy employee going to a job he hated.
Ironically, after Morris was fired while he was the starting quarterback, both teams that Freeman played for this season, saw their head coaches fired as well.
The NFL is a quarterback driven league. Any team could have claimed Freeman on waivers, but he cleared right through. He is now a free agent in 2014 and it will be interesting to see if he gets any looks from other clubs. His days as a starting quarterback are probably over. Because of his record of starting 60 games, a few teams might work him out as a backup, but the big paydays are over, and maybe his career.