We’ve already reached the start of October, but Hurricane Josh appears to be picking up a ton of momentum along the west central coast of Florida. Tampa Bay Buccaneers benched quarterback Josh Freeman was told to stay away from a team meeting on Tuesday, FOX insider Jay Glazer reported on “FOX Football Daily.”
In addition, Glazer reports that some of Freeman’s teammates “started thinking it was to get others to think he blew it off.” Glazer subsequently tweeted that the 6-6, 240-pound signal-caller later approached teammates to tell them he wasn’t late and had been instructed not to attend the meeting.
This is just the latest chapter in a very uncomfortable situation for a team that has opened its season with excruciatingly tough losses in the closing moments to the New York Jets (18-17), New Orleans Saints (16-14) and Arizona Cardinals (13-10), along with lopsided 23-3 defeat to the New England Patriots.
Earlier in the day, head coach Greg Schiano denied that he was behind Monday’s leak of Freeman’s stage one status in the league’s substance abuse program. But the former 2009 first round pick (No. 17 overall) out of Kansas State publicly hinted his belief that the confidential information was leaked from within the organization.
“I really don’t want to get into what Josh’s thoughts are about how things got out,” Schiano told reporters. “I know what I’ve done, and I’m 100 percent comfortable with my behavior. One-hundred percent.”
Just two months ago, Freeman was considered to be “in the same position as Jay Cutler, a talented but flawed quarterback who could follow Joe Flacco’s primrose path to a mega contract or wash out of the gutter as a journeyman in the fashion of Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb,” according to NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling.
Now this increasingly bizarre drama—coupled with Freeman’s contract situation and on-field struggles—have made it next to impossible for the Buccaneers to trade away their fifth-year signal-caller and expect to get anything more than a pack of Red Bulls and a bag of potato chips in return.
“Both the media and Freeman’s teammates are seeing right through Tampa’s thinly-veiled smear campaign against its former quarterback. Coach Greg Schiano appears to think he’s still coaching in the Big East,” according to the folks at Rotoworld and his “agent may want to start sending out back-channel feelers to college athletic directors.”
Back on August 8, I said that Freeman still possessed “all of the tools to excel in the NFL.”
The 6-6, 240-pound quarterback is big, strong, athletic and has impressive elusiveness and mobility for his size with a cannon arm to boot. He’s shown flashes of brilliance during his first four seasons, particularly in his second year, when he passed for 3,451 yards with 25 touchdowns to just six picks and added a career-high 364 rushing yards on 68 carries (5.4 YPC) in 2010.
But on the flip side, I also noted Freeman’s “very inconsistent” performance, how his “footwork and mechanics break down on occasion, leading to spotty accuracy” and that Mark Sanchez was the only guy in the league who had a worse passer rating when facing pressure.”
Through three games this season, Freeman, 25, has completed just 43 of 94 passes (45.7 percent) for 571 yards with two touchdowns to three interceptions. Rookie QB Mike Glennon connected on 24 of 43 passes (55.8 percent) for 193 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the team’s 13-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!