Sep 22, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (right) embrace after a game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The inevitable happened. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally did what many thought they should’ve done a long time ago and let Josh Freeman go. The quarterback is a free agent a year early and must do all he can to repair his reputation as a viable starter in the NFL. Is there any place he can do that?
#1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert era must end
If this team manages to get Josh Freeman after not trading for him from the very start, it will look like a brilliant front office ploy. The Jacksonville Jaguars are dead in the water at quarterback with Blaine Gabbert and need somebody with even marginal ability to stop the team from sinking to that dreaded 0-16 region. Freeman wants to play anywhere else but Tampa, and Jacksonville should keep him a short distance from his home. It’s as perfect a setup as there can be if he wants to the best shot at a starting job.
#2 – Oakland Raiders – Matt Flynn demotion opens door
Matt Flynn likely blew his last chance to start in the NFL. At this point the Oakland Raiders can stick with Terrelle Pryor or give surprise backup Matt McGloin a shot. Pryor offers them the best chance to win but there are benefits to considering Freeman. Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Olson was in TampaBay when the team selected him back in 2009. Freeman had arguably his best season as a pro under him, throwing 3,450 yards and 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. A reunion could produce similar results provided the Raiders can protect him well enough.
#3 – Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers one hit from going down
There is absolutely no chance of Josh Freeman replacing Aaron Rodgers but this move is purely about depth concerns. The Green Bay Packers have nobody of consequence behind their MVP quarterback, which is a problem considering their offensive line has allowed ten sacks through three games. All it takes is one hit for Rodgers to go down for a long period of time. Is B.J. Coleman the guy they want on deck? Freeman didn’t have the cleanest break from the Bucs but he is an experienced veteran at age 25 and could learn some valuable lessons under Mike McCarthy.
#4 – New York Jets – Rex Ryan a more suitable coach
Another team with depth problems, only the New York Jets are typically harder to read. They still seem firmly behind rookie Geno Smith who has played wildly erratic through four games, looking solid in some and horrific in others. The problem is Mark Sanchez went on injured reserve to repair a shoulder injury, leaving untested backup Matt Sims as the only other option. If Smith continues to turn the ball over as much as he has, the Jets may have to consider a change. Freeman would fit well in their offense and might enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere under Rex Ryan.
#5 – Arizona Cardinals – Bruce Arians could work magic
Bruce Arians is a quarterback specialist and Josh Freeman seems like just the kind of reclamation project he could work wonders with. He’s already helped turn Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger into stars. The key issue with the Arizona Cardinals is their offensive line. Put simply it is still not a great unit. The loss of rookie guard Jonathan Cooper clearly set them back. Carson Palmer is at risk of taking more hits, which could lead to some injuries. Arizona has no proven depth though Drew Stanton intrigues Arians. Freeman could do well to learn under the veteran coach.