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Josh Freeman era: The highs and the lows

 Josh Freeman arrived in 2009 as a strong-armed first-round draft pick out of Kansas State and rallied the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory in his first start, midway through his rookie season.

In his first full season as an NFL starter, Freeman joined Miami’s Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks in league history under the age of 23 to throw six or fewer interceptions while attempting more than 200 passes. He also was the first quarterback younger than 23 to lead his team to a 10-win season since Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

Three years later, Freeman finds himself holding a clipboard for third-round draft pick Mike Glennon.

Here’s a look back at the roller-coaster Freeman era in Tampa Bay:

By the numbers

Record: 24-35

Record against NFC South: 9-14

Last nine games: 1-8, with 8 TD passes, 13 interceptions and a 50.8 completion percentage

 * Freeman has completed more than 56 percent of his pass attempts only once in his last 10 games

* Freeman’s average of 6.1 yards per pass attempt in 2013 is the lowest of his career

* Freeman has gone six consecutive games without throwing more touchdowns than interceptions


* In his debut in Tampa on Nov. 8, 2009, Freeman threw three touchdown passes against the favored Packers, rallying Tampa Bay from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to a 38-28 triumph.

* Freeman was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice in 2010, when he hit on 61.4 percent of his attempts, with 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. The Bucs went 10-6 and were edged out by eventual NFL champion Green Bay for an NFC wild-card spot.

* Freeman set franchise single-season records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdown passes (27) in 2012.


* Freeman threw 22 interceptions in 2011 as the Bucs finished 4-12, losing their final 10 games.

* Freeman suffered back-to-back four-interception games last December against the Saints and Rams while throwing only one touchdown pass in those two lopsided losses.

* Freeman ranked last in the NFL with a 59.3 passer rating through three games this season, saddled with a 45.7 percent completion rate.

Off-field issues

* In 2011, Freeman needed five stitches on his right thumb following a gun mishap at a local firing range.

* Earlier this month, Freeman did not attend the team photo session. He said he overslept.

* Two days after his absence from the team photo, Freeman was stripped of his offensive captaincy in a vote by players.


“Our thought was you can’t have long-term success in this league without a franchise quarterback. You can’t be New England, you can’t be Pittsburgh, you can’t be Indianapolis. When you have a chance to get a quarterback like this, you go get him.’’

— Bucs GM Mark Dominik, after trading up in the first round to draft Freeman at No. 17 in 2009


“I always tell Josh that he’ll be here longer than anybody.’’

— Former Bucs QB Byron Leftwich, after Freeman’s first NFL start


“This has always been a quarterback-driven league and the Bucs are no different. Make no mistake — Freeman’s the key to the plan.’’

— Dominik, after Freeman’s rookie year


“His learning curve has skyrocketed. Josh knows he is the face of this franchise and he takes that very seriously.’’

— Former Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson, midway through the 2010 season


“Tampa has somebody very special that doesn’t come along very often. I can’t wait until Sunday to watch Josh Freeman play. No disrespect to other players and teams, but I want Josh Freeman as our quarterback for the long term.’’

— Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer, in March 2011


“You don’t let Josh Freeman get away. There are two kinds of teams in this league, teams like Tampa that have a quarterback and teams without. If Josh Freeman ever becomes available, he’d be the most coveted free agent of any offseason.’’

— Former NFL head coach Brian Billick, in December


“I’ve watched Freeman a lot, he just plays God-awful. Josh Freeman has proven to me that he can’t play.’’

— Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton, interviewed on WDAE (620 AM) in August

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