Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dominik: Tampa Bay Buccaneers in no hurry to re-sign Freeman
ST. PETERSBURG - As he pondered the question Tuesday morning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik could think of only one time he renewed a player's contract before it reached its expiration date. That was in 2009, when he signed tight end Kellen Winslow to a six-year, $36.1 million extension shortly after the Bucs acquired the 2007 Pro Bowler in a trade from the Cleveland Browns. Beyond that, it has been Dominik's policy to re-sign players only after their contracts run out, and he doesn't plan to alter that policy for quarterback Josh Freeman. "Traditionally, we have always waited to do new deals for guys,'' Dominik said Tuesday as he took in an East-West Shrine game workout at Shorecrest Preparatory School. "That's' just something that we've always done."Now, that doesn't mean that that is absolutely what we are going to with Josh. But that's what we have done in the past, and in this case it makes sense for us to stick with that. Nobody is in a hurry to do a deal right now." Freeman, who became the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns in a season in 2012, has one year remaining on the five-year contract he signed when the Bucs selected him with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2009 draft. That deal will pay Freeman $8.43 million for the 2013 season and calls for him to become an unrestricted free agent in spring 2014. But the Bucs might not even re-sign Freeman then. Dominik has not ruled out the possibility of using the franchise tag to keep Freeman around for at least the 2014 season, saying a long-term deal to keep Freeman in the fold will materialize naturally or not at all. "I don't want to put a parameter around it because I don't think that's healthy for anybody," Dominik said. "There should be no parameter on these kinds of things. They should come together when they should come together." Freeman's agent, Tom Condon, declined to comment on the matter when reached Tuesday. Dominik said that in the brief discussions he has had with Freeman's representatives, they expressed a sentiment similar to his. "I'd say we've discussed that now is not the time" to negotiate a new deal for Freeman, Dominik said. "But we will talk. And when we do, I'd rather it be in person. That could be here, at the East-West Shrine game, or at the Senior Bowl or at the combine. It could be later in the summer. I just like to do those things in person.'' Dominik was "in person" at East-West Shrine workouts Tuesday to get a first-hand look at prospects for this year's draft, possibly including quarterbacks. The Bucs have made it clear they would like to create a little more competition for Freeman, and drafting a quarterback who could replace Freeman should he falter is one way of doing that. The Bucs also might look to add a quarterback through free agency or possibly trade for one. The team is open to a variety of options, Dominik said. "Everything is on the table and nothing is on the table,'' he said. Dominik likened the team's plan at quarterback to the one they carried out at place kicker in August. Though they had just re-signed kicker Connor Barth to a four-year, $13.2 million deal in May, they brought in second-year pro Kai Forbath to give Barth a little push during training camp and the preseason. Dominik deemed the results a success. Barth made all 39 of his extra point attempts and connected on 28 of 33 field goal tries for an 84.8 percentage that was his second best ever. Dominik, who said the Bucs are only about halfway through their evaluation of Freeman's 2012 season, is hoping for similar results at the quarterback position in 2013. "Having a full year of being around coach (Greg) Schiano and the way we do things will only help Josh going forward, and now we have another opportunity to surround him with more talent, too,'' Dominik said. Freeman also could benefit from the returns of Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks. Joseph missed all of 2012 with a knee injury and Nicks missed the final nine games with a toe injury. "I'm very excited about that,'' Dominik said.