Oakland would reportedly offer Josh Freeman starting job; other teams in play
Recently deposed quarterback Josh Freeman, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, is narrowing down a list of next destinations and would like to make a decision by Sunday night, reports FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer. Freeman told Glazer that on Sunday morning, and Glazer also reported that Freeman has received inquiries from the Raiders, Bills, 49ers, Packers and Vikings.
UPDATE (11:10 p.m. ET): The Bills are actively trying to sign Freeman, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen. Buffalo is expected to be without starter EJ Manuel for a “few weeks” as he recovers from a sprained LCL. Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is the only other QB currently on the Bills’ roster. Glazer also made note of the Bills’ interest, reporting that Buffalo asked Manuel whether he would be on board with a Freeman signing.
Schefter says that the Vikings and Raiders remain interested.
NFL.com’s Mike Silver reports that the Raiders are the one team that would be ready to make him a starter, which makes a bit of sense. Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson was Freeman’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay from 2009 through ’11. Freeman was inconsistent under Olson, but he did throw for 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2010.
“You know, I’ve always been a fan of Josh’s,” Olson told ESPN.com on Thursday. “I have a lot of respect for him, as a person and a player, and it’s unfortunate to me to watch what happened in Tampa … really over the last couple of years.”
Terrelle Pryor is the Raiders’ current starter, and the third-year man has been dynamic despite a depleted receiver corps and an offensive line that wouldn’t pass muster on several SEC rosters. Pryor has passed for 624 yards this season, and rushed for 198 more, and he’s been the team’s sole offensive weapon at times. Putting Freeman in that situation might not provide the desired results.
The 49ers are interested in Freeman as a backup behind Colin Kaepernick, though Freeman seems to be angling for a place where he can be a starter. He might get that shot in Buffalo, where EJ Manuel is currently out with a knee injury, though Manuel will regain the starting spot when healthy. The Vikings are also interested and asking how much Freeman was responsible for the problems with Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. But Freeman would struggle to beat out Christian Ponder as the starter (based more on the team’s insistence on Ponder as the starter than Ponder’s actual performance), and Matt Cassel has performed well as the Vikings’ backup. Unless the Vikings are ready to cut bait on Ponder, of course.
If Freeman wanted to take some time, clear his head and work on his fundamentals, the Packers and 49ers would be interesting destinations. Both teams have entrenched starters, but in Jim Harbaugh and Mike McCoy, both teams have outstanding quarterback developers. Harbaugh made a new player out of Alex Smith, currently the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, and Matt Flynn cashed in on a couple of performances in a favorable Green Bay offense as Aaron Rodgers’ backup. Flynn, by the way, was just demoted to Oakland’s third string.