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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the final stop on our post-draft team-by-team mailbag tour. As you might have imagined, there were a ton of Josh Freeman questions.

Obviously, I can't answer all of them, so I picked out a few that represented the masses.

Tym in Orlando writes: It seems every single bucs fan with internet access has blown up the internet with disdain for the bucs' first round pick in Josh Freeman. I, on the other hand, recall the 2004 Chargers when I look at Freeman. The 2003 Charger were abysmal, but in 2004 you saw the emergence of Drew Brees, and it forced the charges to sit Phillip Rivers for 2 full seasons. I would love to see the same thing happen with the Bucs: Let Luke and Lefty battle it out this year; whichever does better can even start next year while the other is released into Free Agency. During that time, Coach Jags grooms Freeman just as he did with Matt Ryan. It's so easy for us to remember the Ryan Leaf's and Alex Smith's of the world, but what about the Phillip Rivers' and Steve Young's (who sat behind Montana before leading the 49ers)? Even Cutler sat behind Jake Plummer before taking the reigns. Your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: Tym represents one side of this debate. In other words, he's one of those who are not yelling and screaming in outrage about the selection of Freeman. We'll get to that in a minute. But, first, Tym brings up a point that Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik both made about San Diego's situation when the Chargers had Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. That's a very positive way to look at things and the Bucs could sit Freeman for a year and let him develop behind Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich. If one of those guys ends up starting all year, it means the Bucs are doing well. But I think there will be pressure to play Freeman and my guess is he may not open the season as the starter, but will be in that role no later early November, after the Bucs return from their London trip.


David in Palm Harbor writes: Wow, did the Bucs ever reach for Josh Freeman. I know they believe that he a franchise caliber QB, but I felt that had more pressing needs. And did he not show his decision making ability when he commented on his being drafted by the Bucs on the NFL.com chat after the draft. Hope for our sake he makes better decisions on the field. My prediction Bucs 2-14 and get the first overall pick next year.

Pat Yasinskas: David obviously represents the other side on the Freeman selection and there are a lot of Tampa Bay fans with him. The thing I'd like to say on Freeman is, how can we judge him now? Yes, I know some draft analysts say he's not ready and this was a bad pick by the Bucs. It could turn out that way. But you can't legitimately say that until you've seen him throw some passes in the NFL, so I think you've got to hold off for a year or two before condemning this pick. I know a lot of people think Dominik and Morris don't know what they're doing. I've known Dominik since he came to the Bucs in 1995 and I can assure you he knows what he's doing. He and Morris felt strongly about this pick. If, down the road, they turn out to be wrong, rip them all you want. But let's allow time to determine if this was a good pick or not.


Daryl in Springfield, NJ writes: Hi Pat, I'm torn about the bucs drafting Josh Freeman. Morris and Dominik are obviously extremely happy with the pick. I'm sure they wouldn't say anything negative publicly, but is there any indication of what Jeff Jagodzinski and Greg Olsen think of Freeman? Would the bucs still have made the choice if either Jags or Olsen thought Freeman couldn't cut it?

Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs take input from all their coaches and scouts and I'm sure offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski must believe Freeman can be a franchise quarterback. Jagodzinski helped in the development of Matt Ryan, so he's got a track record.


Sean in Tucson writes: Love the blog Pat! Do you think the Bucs could have gotten Josh Freeman without trading up? Were the Broncos really thinking about taking Freeman ahead of Tampa Bay?

Pat Yasinskas: Right after the Freeman pick, Dominik told me the Bucs were convinced that either the Broncos would take the quarterback or someone else would have traded to No. 18 to get him. That's why the Bucs decided to move up to No. 17.


Adam in Jersey writes: Hi Pat -- I know the Bucs plan to go to camp with 4 QBs, which probably means that Griese is gone. Looking ahead, do you know if they plan on keeping 4 QBs for the regular season again? If not, since they just invested in Leftwich and McCown, would it mean they are giving up on Josh Johnson already?

Pat Yasinskas: You have to assume either Brian Griese or Johnson will be gone before training camp even starts. My guess is Griese, but I doubt Johnson will make it to the regular season on the roster. I'm not sure why fans got so fired up about him. He was a fifth-round pick.