It’s setting up to be a big season for Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman.
He’s on the last year of the deal he signed as a first-round pick in 2009 and his team just swung a big trade to raise expectations for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since Freeman arrived. On top of all that, there were some mixed messages from coach Greg Schiano early in the offseason about his commitment to Freeman.
Schiano’s since said stronger things about the quarterback and Freeman says that he “isn’t concerned” about what he calls a great relationship with the head coach. Freeman said the only thing that concerned him was taking the Bucs to the playoffs, whether or not he returns to the team in 2014.
“I give it all I got regardless,” Freeman said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I love football, I love my teammates, I love winning. It doesn’t really change anything for me. Obviously I love being a Buccaneer. But at the same time, the job is to go out and find a way to win and worrying about any sort of external forces, contract, all this stuff, you can’t worry about that. It’s not going to help you play better. You’ve got to focus on the things that will help you go out on Sundays and win.”
Freeman’s had his ups and downs through his first four seasons, with last year’s strong middle — 16 touchdowns and three interceptions during a 5-1 stretch that briefly had the Bucs in the playoff hunt — surrounded by less impressive work on either side. Freeman wasn’t the reason they missed the playoffs, a terrible pass defense had plenty to do with that, but there’s no doubt they’ll need more from Freeman as well if they’re going to make the playoffs in 2013.
Should that happen, Freeman probably won’t wind up any more concerned about the other stuff than he is now.