It appears things have officially reached a tipping point between Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and embattled quarterback Josh Freeman, although no one within the organization or Freeman’s camp will acknowledge it.
This morning, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Freeman is expected to seek a trade before October’s trade deadline next month, citing that the two’s relationship is “beyond repair.”
Those within the Bucs organization have denied the report, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Buccaneers who face an NFC South divisional foe, the New Orleans Saints this afternoon.
Freeman’s agent Erik Burkhardt would not comment specifically on the situation or the story but issued the following statement to Sports Talk Florida.
“I cannot comment on any of the stories with Josh right now, except that his full focus is on beating the Saints today. He believes in his teammates and his own ability.”
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that there had been a players-only meeting at One Buc Place in which some players voiced concern over the legitimacy of the captains’ vote.
Freeman, a captain since he became a full-time starter for the Buccaneers in 2009, was not named captain, and there was speculation that Schiano tampered with the vote, a move Schiano denied.
Shortly after, reports surfaced that Freeman had missed the team photo, and speculation ensued that the Bucs had possibly leaked the information to detract from the players’ growing disdain for Schiano.
Freeman and Schiano both confirmed the missed photo.
“I overslept, point blank,” said Freeman.
“The team photo was taken on Monday and he overslept and missed the meeting. That was dealt with by me, internally, and we’ve moved on. That was a long time ago in football days,” said Schiano.
Both also went on to deny any bad blood between them, although neither Schiano nor Freeman’s comments were convincing.
“I do trust Josh. Josh and I share a lot of things together,” said Schiano, who said the missed photo hadn’t affected his quarterback’s preparation.
When Freeman was asked if he trusts his head coach he responded, “I do, undoubtedly. ‘I’ve spent a lot of time with Coach Schiano. A couple times every week, [I] go up [and] just have a general conversation about whether it’s the team, whether it’s about life.”
“I got a call from my agent yesterday, and he was asking about it; that was the first I had heard somebody said something about Coach rigging the ballots or something. Coach would not do that. I’ve got 100% confidence. That’s a big thing with coach: trust and accountability. Of course, I trust Coach.”
Unfortunately for Freeman, his head coach may not have had his best interest at heart.
When the Bucs faced the Jets last Sunday and Freeman suffered a helmet malfunction, Schiano didn’t stick up for his starting quarterback stating, “Josh [Freeman] has the ability to call his own play rather than burn a timeout or take a delay of game [penalty].”
Schiano added that he would have preferred he not call plays however, a move that doesn’t suggest much confidence in a fifth-year player.
“I would’ve preferred to use the step before that. If worse comes to worst, that’s last resort – he knows what to call – but I’d prefer to get the play in by another method.”