Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What Are the Odds That Josh Freeman Will Re-Sign for 2014?

Caleb AbnerContributor IIIJune 25, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stands on the sidelines during their game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Josh Freeman is not worried about 2013 being his last year under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Whether it be for the Bucs or for another team, all probability points to the quarterback being on an NFL roster in 2014.

But what are the odds that he stays in Tampa?

To answer this question, we first need to look at how he ended up on the team, and how he has performed in pewter over the last four years.

With the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik made Freeman the first draft selection of his tenure as GM. 

Since the guy who drafted "Free" is still in town, the quarterback has ties to the organization, despite the change in head coach (Raheem Morris, HC from 2009-2012, was replaced with Greg Schiano back in early 2012).

While Dominik's career may be tied to Freeman's, one must wonder if Free's on-field performance has truly merited a contract extension. 

Over four years, Freeman has averaged 227 passing yards, 1.4 touchdowns and 1.1 interceptions per game, with a completion percentage of 58.8 and a passer rating of 79.8. 

Not terrible numbers, but not exactly franchise quarterback numbers either.

Looking purely at the stats, it would make sense for the Bucs to move on from Free and find their real quarterback of the future.

That, of course, would mean running the risk of letting an elite quarterback slip right through their fingers. Though Freeman has had stretches of truly terrible play, he has also shown the potential to be as good as Ben Roethlisberger in his prime. 

Right now, it is Freeman's inconsistency that holds him back from greatness. He has all the tools to be an MVP, but he hasn't shown that he can maintain a high level of play long enough for it to be more than just a hot streak. 

Then again, he's only 25 years old, younger than Andy Dalton, younger than Sam Bradford and less than a month older than Matt Stafford.

In other words, Freeman is not yet a finished product. If the Bucs let him go, they'll be banking on him staying at the same level and not reaching his potential. 

The front office and the coaches will be evaluating every single snap Freeman takes this season, just like how one would scout a draft prospect, because, unless he takes a massive step forward in 2013, re-signing him is largely about his potential. The Josh Freeman we have seen over the last four years could not elevate his team beyond the talent around him. The Josh Freeman that lives in best-case-scenario land can be a Super Bowl winner.

It'll be his 2013 performance that determines whether the Bucs will try to re-sign him. If the team strings together at least a 9-7 season, not in spite of, but because of Freeman, odds are he won't be going anywhere. If the team makes the playoffs, a contract extension would be almost inevitable. 

Tampa has inked enough big-money contracts in the last few years to make it very unlikely that anyone would be able to outbid it for the QB's services. Freeman seems to want to remain a Buc. The ball is in the team's court; the Buccaneers decide whether or not their starting quarterback will be on the team in 2014.

As for the odds of Freeman staying, they're at around 50 percent. It's pretty much a coin flip over whether Freeman improves his consistency or remains mediocre this season. 

But make no mistake; it'll be his 2013 season that decides his future.