Josh Freeman has officially been put on notice.
You can call the selection of N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon a lot of things. Perhaps you see it as the team simply looking to add a solid backup to Freeman.
Maybe you think the team just wants to add some healthy competition at the position. You could be thinking the team has given up on Freeman as the future of the franchise and sees Glennon as the man to take the Bucs into the future.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain: The fact that a Bucs team that's clearly trying to earn a playoff berth next season and had other needs to address used a third-round pick on a quarterback is a clear indication that Freeman's job security just got a whole lot shakier.
Let's break this down from several angles. To start, let's talk about the play of Freeman last season.
On one hand, Freeman set career highs in passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27). He developed a quick rapport with new wide receiver Vincent Jackson (72 receptions for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns) and led the Bucs to a 6-4 record to open the season.
But the Bucs promptly lost five straight games and Freeman was brutal in that stretch, throwing just five touchdowns to nine interceptions. In all, he turned the ball over 19 times (17 interceptions) and completed just 54.8 percent of his passes.
The Bucs finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. In a word, Freeman was inconsistent. In two words, he was maddeningly inconsistent.
He deserves to be on the hot seat he's now uncomfortably resting upon.
If he wasn't on the hot seat, there is no way the Bucs would have let Freeman enter the final year of his rookie contract without an extension. And remember, the team reportedly chased Matt Cassel in free agency, per Albert Breer of NFL.com back in March:
Albert Breer @AlbertBreer
As @JayGlazer reported, QB Matt Cassel will sign with Minnesota. My understanding is Cassel picked the Vikings over the Buccaneers.2013-3-14 19:41:24
Nor would the team have used a third-round pick on a quarterback. The team has been really aggressive in the past two offseasons and is clearly gunning for the postseason this year. With other needs, a quarterback would be deemed a luxury if the team was totally confident in Freeman.
Think about some of the moves this team has made:
- Signed Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright in free agency after 2011 season.
- The team was active in the draft last year, moving back two slots and selecting safety Mark Barron in the first round before trading back into the first round and drafting running back Doug Martin.
- Struck gold in last year's draft with linebacker Lavonte David, who finished with 138 tackles, two sacks and an interception in his rookie season.
- Continued to revamp the secondary, signing safety Dashon Goldson this offseason.
- And finally, the team traded for cornerback Darrelle Revis for this year's first-round pick and a conditional selection next year.
Those are moves from a team that wants to win right now. And teams that want to win right now don't make luxury picks in the third round, they plug holes or add depth.
But they most certainly don't start quarterback controversies unless they have concerns about the incumbent at the position.
And Glennon is no long-term project. He's a two-year starter who has thrown for 31 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons and for 4,031 yards last year. He threw for too many interceptions last year (17, which sure sounds familiar, doesn't it?), but he'll be given a chance to compete for the starter spot this year.
Look, I don't think the Bucs have given up on Freeman. I think he has another year to prove he's a franchise quarterback who deserves a contract extensions, and Glennon will never be anything but a backup in Tampa Bay if Freeman steps up.
But it is clear the Bucs want to remind Freeman that he indeed needs to step up this season and that the team's confidence in the quarterback is wavering. Glennon wasn't just a draft pick, he was a reminder to Freeman that his job security is far from guaranteed.