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Friday, Nov 17, 2017
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Freeman has special interest in league's title games

TAMPA - From the perspective of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there is reason to monitor the outcome of today's AFC and NFC championship games that surpasses knowing which teams will play in Super Bowl XLVII. As they continue to formulate a game plan for the possible re-signing of QB Josh Freeman, the Bucs will take great interest in how Ravens QB Joe Flacco and Falcons QB Matt Ryan fare. Their success, or lack of it, almost certainly will impact future contract negotiations between the Bucs and Freeman. Flacco is slated to become a free agent this spring and Ryan in the spring of 2014, at the same time as Freeman. If either the Ravens or Falcons loses today, that will relegate Flacco, Ryan or both to the category of quarterbacks who appear to be good enough to take their teams to the Super Bowl, but have so far failed to do so. That could cost Flacco and Ryan not only their current jobs but millions of dollars. The trickle down affect will absolutely reach Freeman, unless, of course, he suddenly takes the Bucs to the Super Bowl next year.
In that case, Freeman could have a hand in setting the new standard for quarterback contracts. But if all three players continue on their current paths, Freeman likely will see his new deal fall in somewhere below those of Flacco and Ryan. What that will mean in terms of dollars and cents is hard to gauge. Peyton Manning led all quarterbacks with an $18 million base salary this season. Even if they win a Super Bowl, it's hard to imagine Flacco, who ranked sixth ($6.76 million), or Ryan, who ranked third ($11.5 million), getting that type of money. What's more realistic, should either win a Super Bowl, is a base salary for 2014 and 2015 similar to those for quarterbacks who have already won at least one Super Bowl such as Ben Roethlisberger ($12.1 million in 2014) or Aaron Rodgers ($10.1 million in 2015). If they lose, of course, the numbers come way down, and the same would hold true for Freeman. So, the Bucs will probably wait until after Flacco and possibly even Ryan have agreed to new contracts before they begin negotiating a new deal for Freeman. Fast track It started with a phone call, then-Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin inquiring about a secondary coach. Next thing you knew, Kiffin and Gus Bradley, then the defensive coordinator at little-known North Dakota State, were talking Tampa 2. Kiffin was so impressed with Bradley's knowledge of the scheme Kiffin made famous with the Bucs that he offered him a job as Tampa Bay's quality control coach for the 2006 season. Bradley accepted and has been on the fast track ever since, going from Bucs linebackers coach to Seahawks defensive coordinator and, now, to Jaguars head coach in a matter of seven years. No one should be all that surprised. Kiffin has long displayed a unique knack for finding quality assistant coaches who quickly moved to the ranks of NFL head coaches. When Bradley was hired by the Jaguars last week, he became the fifth former Bucs assistant coach hired by Kiffin to be named an NFL head coach, joining Lovie Smith (Bears), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Rod Marinelli (Lions) and Raheem Morris (Bucs).

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979 Twitter: @RCummingsTBO

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