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Will the real Josh Freeman please stand up?
Is he the guy who led his team to 10 wins in 2010, throwing for almost 3,500 yards with 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions?
Or is he the guy who threw 22 interceptions against only 16 touchdowns in 2011 while his team suffered through a 10-game losing streak to end the season?
The answer to that question will shape the future of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise. Tampa's first-round pick in the '09 draft, Freeman is entering his fourth season in the pros. How he performs this year will determine whether the Bucs give him a rich contract extension, or force them to look elsewhere.
Recognizing this, the Buccaneers went out and invested heavily on the offensive side of the ball. They signed wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks to big contracts in free agency, and added veteran tight end Dallas Clark to replace Kellen Winslow Jr., who they traded to Seattle.
Then the Bucs drafted running back Doug Martin in the first round this year to give Freeman a potent weapon out of the backfield.
Even with the loss of Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph for the year to injury, expectations are high for this reshaped Buccaneer offense. Freeman is going to have to have a big year to come close to living up to those expectations.
He has shown that the ability is there, but last season was a major letdown. His footwork was bad and he locked in on receivers instead of reading the coverage and throwing to the open man. And when things started to go bad, his play followed suit—not what you're looking for in a franchise quarterback.
With the rookie cap, the cost of drafting quarterbacks so high is a lot lower than it used to be. If Freeman can't get back on track this season, I would expect the Buccaneers to try to draft his successor next year.
Hot seat temperature: Super-high