With Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman available in trade and teams possibly becoming immediately interested if their current starter suffers a serious injury, multiple franchises have begun doing their work on the former Tampa starter.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that teams are studying Freeman’s performances in the NFL and their notes and analysis of him as an incoming rookie in 2009. Mort explained that teams interested in trading for Freeman also are eligible to obtain otherwise confidential information regarding Freeman’s status, if any, in the league’s substance-abuse program.
That last part has an ominous feel to it. No one has reported that Freeman is in the program or otherwise has any issues, but the mere mention of it will raise eyebrows, especially since Freeman missed the team photo and showed by late for the first day of his offseason youth football camp.
In our view, it’s sufficiently ominous that the NFL should affirmatively state that Freeman isn’t in the program, if he in fact isn’t.
A player’s status in the substance-abuse program is supposed to be kept completely confidential unless and until a player is suspended four games. Multiple violations and other issues can occur before the suspension is levied and later upheld on appeal.
Again, there’s no reason to believe that Freeman is in the program. But Mort’s report puts it on the radar screen, when it previously wasn’t.