Trade interest in Josh Freeman mild
Demoted quarterback Josh Freeman has requested a trade but is pressuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his outright release, a move that would allow him to receive all $6.2 million in remaining salary and afford him the freedom to sign wherever he chooses. The team has no intention of immediately doing that, however, according to sources.
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Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik has made calls to about one-third of the teams in the NFL to determine whether there is interest in trading for Freeman, and the Buccaneers will have contacted every team by the end of Tuesday, according to sources. Interest has been described as being mild.
If the team has to pay Freeman $500,000 each week, it will wait until closer to the trade deadline at the end of the month before cutting ties with its former starter, sources said. The Buccaneers think Freeman is by far the best quarterback available, and they might be able to make a more equitable trade if a team loses its starting quarterback.
Bucs coach Greg Schiano wanted to meet with Freeman regarding all of the latest developments in advance of the regular weekly team meeting Tuesday. When that didn't happen, Schiano told Freeman to wait for the meeting to conclude and they would have the private discussion they had planned. After the team meeting, Schiano and Freeman had their conversation, and the quarterback participated in the rest of meetings and the walk-through practice with his teammates.
Fox Sports earlier reported that Freeman was asked to stay out of the meeting.
Late Monday, information was reported about Freeman's status as a Stage 1 participant in the league's substance-abuse program. Such information is harmful to the player and is supposed to be so confidential that teams are not to be told when they have a player enter Stage 1.
On Tuesday, Schiano was asked by reporters whether he was the source of the information and said, "Absolutely not."
"I know what I've done. I'm 100 percent comfortable with my behavior, 100 percent," he said.
Under the drug policy, teams that are interested in acquiring Freeman are entitled to know his status only if he is one strike away from a suspension, which he is not, sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.
In a statement released after the initial reports Monday night, Freeman said he has a prescription for Adderall to treat ADHD; however, last year he inadvertently took Ritalin, which triggered a positive test. As a result of the positive test, he submitted to frequent drug screenings and placement in Stage 1 of the league's drug program.
Freeman also said he has passed 46 league-administered drug tests, but Monday's disclosure could undermine the Buccaneers' attempts to trade him.
The NFL Players Association will investigate how the information about Freeman's status became public, said executive director DeMaurice Smith, who, coincidentally, was at the Bucs' facility Tuesday as he began annual visits with each team.
"It is a shame that when times have gotten tough, people have chosen to attack the character of others, rather than supporting each other," Freeman said, adding in his statement that he has "never tested positive for any illegal drugs or related substances."
Sources with knowledge of Freeman's status said he is not one strike from a suspension despite being subject to random testing and that he has obtained a temporary-use exemption for a prescription drug that normally would be on the banned list.
ESPN.com Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas and ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.
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