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GZL Rumour Mill: Tampa Bay
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

Word on the street is that Tampa Bay management are not happy with how this season has panned out and are on the verge of making some serious changes. In the center of these talks is GZL Icon and superstar quarterback Josh Freeman. General Manager Anthony Fernandez has expressed his dislike of Freeman's on and off field attitude and commitment to the organisation whilst also stating that his 2016 performance and lack of synergy with star wide out Mike Williams has been an integral part of their failure. Freeman is staring down the barrel of an amnesty clause (to avoid most of his substantial cap hit) whilst Williams is more likely to attract a regular trade out option. Suitors for Williams' services can come from anywhere and he'll make a nice addition to any team, however Freeman is another question altogether, so we'll examine this possible scenario and the likely candidates to make a bid for him:

As quite possibly the best quarterback in the league by attributes alone he could be coveted by anyone seeking that one step up on their rivals, however a few teams with a passing leader in limbo, transit or altogether absent are the real players. The question then begs, what is the price they're willing to pay?

New England Patriots - starting at the bottom of the pile we have the struggling Patriots. The merry-go-round of starters on this team since the injury and subsequent retirement of Tom Brady has been quite phenomenal, however after Mark Sanchez failed after arriving on the amnesty train before, are they willing to risk it? Needless to say GM Matt Spencer has voiced his displeasure at Ryan Mallett's failure to live up to expectations so we can expect this franchise to be looking for a new quarterback, however I don't see them giving up the 1.1 pick to do so, even with Freeman's quality and proven skills. The flipside to this option is the Patriots drafting Jameis Winston and hoping he can be the man. In either case they'd have to consider shoring up on some more talented receivers to give the best support or make the most out of their chosen passers skills.

New Orleans Saints - one team that has been missing a legitimate starter since Eli was traded are the Saints. Matt Cassel is not the man to lead this outfit and GM Sloat has been content to wait for the right moment and player to make his move. Is Josh Freeman that time? It would turn into a double whammy for the Buccaneers though, seeing Freeman back on the field twice a year hurting their playoff aspirations is not the ideal situation. With 2 picks between 5 and 7 and another at 15 they are in a prime position to pay the required compensation and still have a good draft, which they'll need to give Freeman some legitimate receiving targets as their stocks are lower than the Patriots.

Kansas City Chiefs - I don't want to consider the option that Freeman heads to the AFC West, but there are too many indicators that it's possible. I still don't know how set GM Miller is with E.J. Manuel at the helm (as a scrambling QB) and with only half a year under his belt in KC it's hard say if he'll pan out. Heading to the playoffs makes this a hard prospect to pull off with their pick, however I could see the young receiving duo of Williams and Hunter make a lot of noise to get him into town.

San Diego Chargers - with Gabbert at the helm you'd be excused for thinking this is an off the wall choice, but there is a precedent here. GM Stanley was willing to move Gabbert last year if the price was right and there is the ongoing issue of injuries that seem to pop up every year. With that said I wouldn't be surprised if a play was made to bring Freeman in before moving Gabbert on. The passing targets are there for Freeman to work with and this may be the kick start that San Diego needs to revive its glory days and return to the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings - Colt McCoy hasn't been able to lead this team to better than a .500 finish in 5 years, so it may be time for some fresh blood in Minnesota. With the 10th overall pick they have a decent offer to bring him in, however do they think there are more important holes to fill with that pick and can they get value for McCoy and not hurt the bank with a cap hit?

Washington Redskins - with Ricky Stanzi as the incumbent and only just brought in and replacing Chad Henne this year they may not be in the market for a high calibre QB, but you must admit that Freeman would be a catapulting step over Stanzi's mediocre year. They do have pick 11 and 12 in the draft so the fodder is there, plus Stanzi has a cheap contract and no bonus so he could easily spend time as the backup or be moved on without any salary concerns. The young receivers would also benefit from Freeman's presence which may get the team back to a double digit season and the playoffs for eyars to come.

Miami Dolphins - there's loads of talent at the QB position in Miami, however no-one quite like Freeman is now. Glennon has the potential to attribute wise become a better rated player than Freeman, but he needs a few years of work...perfect to fit in the soon to be 30 year old Freeman whilst Glennon matures. There is still the case of Russell Wilson, the man who was traded out, traded back in and has given a decent account for himself and his 5'11" frame. But he's out of contract this off season so now would be the perfect time to pull the trigger on a big trump card player and work Wilsons' contract to something manageable before moving him on. The Dolphins have 4 picks in this draft so they have plenty of leverage to get the right price.

In their current positions the above teams are those who'll be able to pay the steep asking price for Freeman NOW. Of course there are other teams out there like the Giants or Packers who may toy with the idea of upgrading to avoid more growing pains like the Redskins, plus the random choices some of the other GM's may make as they see Freeman being the final piece to their puzzle to elevate them to glory. Needless to say if he does hit the amnesty market you can be sure a large portion of the GM base will weigh their options for a legitimate bid and hope that Josh Freeman outside Tampa Bay will thrive and return to his premiere days like the 2014 season.
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