What’s next for Josh Freeman?
The Buccaneers finally released Josh Freeman on Wednesday, putting the finishing touch on what’s been a total debacle over the past few weeks.
Freeman is now free to sign with any other team (he does not have to clear waivers first). The Bucs still have to pay him more than $6 million for the remainder of 2013, too, so the 25-year-old QB should be willing to accept a cheap offer in an attempt to prove he’s still got what it takes to stick in the NFL.
Tampa Bay had no luck trying to trade Freeman, with his previous contract no doubt standing as a major obstacle there. That does not mean, however, that the 31 other teams are ready to deem Freeman a complete failure.
Here’s a quick look at a few franchises that might consider giving Freeman a call:
• Atlanta: The Falcons (like at least a couple other teams on this list) probably would be dead and buried if their starter, Matt Ryan, suffered some sort of serious injury. If that were to happen, though, would they feel more confident with their current backup, Dominique Davis, who knows the system but has never thrown a regular-season NFL pass; or with Freeman, who has 59 NFL starts under his belt?
• Cleveland: Brian Hoyer has come to the rescue in Cleveland (and might have the Browns above .500 and all alone in first place by late Thursday night). But is he the quarterback of the future there? Is Brandon Weeden? The Browns seem more or less ready to cut the cord on Weeden. And Freeman, as opposed to say Jason Campbell, at least might have a little potential left untapped.
• Green Bay: Another of the longshot candidates on this list, the Packers played musical chairs behind Aaron Rodgers during training camp. They settled on Seneca Wallace, a safe, veteran presence in the No. 2 QB role. Could Freeman’s availability cause them to reconsider? Again, like Atlanta, an injury up top here would be devastating, so Green Bay might be better off choosing a backup capable of learning something.
• Houston: Don’t count on this one, either. The Texans are not nearly as ready to bail on Matt Schaub as some of the Houston fans, plus playoff fill-in T.J. Yates and intriguing rookie Case Keenum already dot the depth chart. Still, if Houston grows increasingly unsettled with its QB situation …
• Jacksonville: Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union already squashed this notion on Twitter: “Don’t look for #jaguars to bring in QB Josh Freeman.”
Jacksonville’s clearly playing for the 2014 draft at this point, so adding Freeman might only add to the Blaine Gabbert-Chad Henne mess. But wouldn’t Freeman be the best of that group?
• Minnesota: The Vikings likely are in no rush to turn a two-man QB controversy into a three-headed monster. Signing Freeman would further indicate that Christian Ponder has minimal future in Minnesota — and coach Leslie Frazier does not seem ready to make that leap yet.
• Oakland: With Matt Flynn bombing in his Week 4 start (and then dropping behind undrafted rookie Matt McGloin on the depth chart), there might be a spot here for Freeman to step in and compete as Terrelle Pryor’s backup. The rebuilding Raiders may not want to deal with the Freeman storyline, but they’re also in a position where they ought to take advantage when talented players become available.
• St. Louis: The Rams really have not put any pressure on Sam Bradford, in terms of in-house competition. Kellen Clemens, the Rams’ second-stringer, is a 30-year-old career backup. Though Freeman will need a significant amount of time to get up to speed wherever he lands, he could change a little of the dynamic on St. Louis’ depth chart.
Plus, head coach Jeff Fisher has not hesitated to add players with questionable off-field histories. Freeman might benefit greatly from being in a more stable environment.
• Tennessee: With Jake Locker on the shelf for at least a month, the Titans are pulling Rusty Smith up from the practice squad to serve as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup. Trading for Freeman was not a realistic option, but signing him — now that he’s almost certain to come at a bare-bones price — has to at least come up as a topic of discussion.