The NFLPA has asked the NFL to conduct a joint investigation regarding the leaks to the media of information regarding former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league still had not responded to the request as of Sunday, October 20.
The league previously had made known publicly its position regarding the situation, stopping short of committing to a joint investigation.
The union wants to conduct a joint investigation in part because the NFLPA lacks the ability to compel coach Greg Schiano or other non-player employees to cooperate with the effort. The NFLPA also has limited confidence that an investigation conducted by the league would result in the imposition of meaningful discipline.
But as the 0-6 Bucs prepare to face the 3-3 Panthers on Thursday night, there’s a reason to think that perhaps the NFL won’t merely conduct a hollow, rubber-stamped investigation. As one source suggested, if the Buccaneers are thinking about firing Schiano, a finding that he or someone acting on his behalf violated the NFL’s confidentiality requirements could be used to support a termination “with cause,” which would allow the Buccaneers to avoid paying Schiano the balance of the five-year, $15 million contract he reportedly signed in 2012.
That could save the Buccaneers more than $9 million. Which would more than offset the $8.43 million Freeman will have earned from the team for 2013.
To be clear, we’re not reporting that the Bucs plan to fire Schiano or that they intend to fire him “with cause.” The point for now is that, if the Bucs are inclined to make a change and not inclined to pay him moving forward, a finding that he or a member of his staff violated league rules could help the organization avoid paying Schiano a lot of money through 2016.