The Bucs will not discuss extending Josh Freeman's contract in the off-season. That means his rookie deal will expire after 2013. If he plays great, the team will use its franchise tag on Freeman and try to sign him to a long-term deal. The exclusive-rights franchise tender for a quarterback would likely be more than $17 million for one year.
In many ways, it's the Bucs' only play. They don't want a situation like the Jets have with QB Mark Sanchez; they'd like to cut ties but have guaranteed him $8.25 million next season.
But the Bucs are headed down a slippery slope you can spend decades on — change the coach, change the quarterback.
Coach Greg Schiano inherited Freeman, so he has no loyalty to the enigmatic quarterback. He likes a lot of things about Freeman's game — he did set franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns — but plans to add a quarterback, either in the draft or free agency, to compete with Freeman next season.
Through Week 14, Freeman was averaging 1.9 touchdowns and just 0.6 interceptions, but he finished the season on a very sour note, throwing nine picks and only two TDs in his final three games. It's not like the closing schedule (NO, STL, ATL) was super difficult, either. It looks like that stretch may have cost Freeman an extension, at least for now.