As reported two weeks ago, Josh Freeman's relationship with Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano was deteriorating to the point where the quarterback would seek a trade, and that is the case following his demotion this week in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. Several teams called the Buccaneers in the offseason to determine if Freeman was available, and at what cost, and while in-season trades for quarterbacks are rare, the Bucs are expected to get calls this week as well.
It has long been apparent Freeman had no future in Tampa with Schiano as coach -- Schiano never endorsed or embraced him long-term -- and this situation has festered for about nine months now, during which time the topic of a potential Freeman trade has been broached by various parties, inside the organization and out.
Freeman is in the final year of his rookie deal, Tampa never attempted to extend him, and now his value has been further devalued after his benching. If you want to buy low on Freeman -- who threw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last season -- now is the time.
The Bucs' season has been a disaster, self-destructing with a slew of penalties, losing tough games, still looking for their first win, with a locker room that appears to be at a tenuous point with Schiano and with disputes over their handling of a MRSA outbreak at the team facility still simmering in the background. Freeman, a first-round pick in 2009, holds many franchise passing records. But him hanging around as the backup, given all the distractions already swirling, seems like a recipe for further chaos.
The Bucs would get a compensatory pick in the spring when Freeman departs as a free agent, but those picks cannot be traded. If they are able to secure a mid-round pick for Freeman, and the potential for an additional pick in 2015 if Freeman stays with his new club and performs to a certain level, I'd expect a deal before next month's trade deadline.
It's obvious Schiano would prefer Freeman to be out of the building, and having him as an understudy might not be the best climate to indoctrinate Glennon to the NFL.
With a bright group of quarterback prospects ahead for the 2014 draft, Freeman's market could be further constrained now, but would Minnesota, looking for a spark themselves and something in the passing game to help open things up for Adrian Peterson, make sense, with Christian Ponder struggling and perhaps out this week with injury as well (the Vikings have a bye in Week 5, which would give them extra time to work in a new quarterback if need be). With young quarterbacks like Jake Locker (Tennessee) and Terrelle Pryor (Oakland) performing well, that limits the market as well (Cleveland is more likely to draft a quarterback and developmental QB Brian Hoyer performed very well in his first start for them Sunday).
However, injuries will invariably strike the quarterback position over time, too, and a contending team might view Freeman as the best option to salvage their season, and the price in terms of draft picks worth it. Freeman's $8.4 million salary is certainly steep, but if a team views him as more than just a one-season rental, then that wouldn't scare them off, I don't believe.