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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman gets another shot in CFL

Roy Cummings

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The odyssey of Former Buccaneers first round pick QB Josh Freeman has resumed, and this time, it’s north of the border. Freeman agreed on Friday night to a two year deal with the CFL’s Montreal Alouttes.

A TSN (Canadian version of ESPN) reporter broke the story of his signing:

It has been quite a fall for Freeman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, was the former potential franchise QB of the Buccaneers, but who has been completely out of the NFL the past two seasons.

Freeman’s success came in his second season in Tampa Bay, after having been drafted with the 17th overall pick out of Kansas State, he took over as the starter in 2010. He led the Bucs to a 10-6 record throwing 25 TD’s and only six interceptions that season, as the Bucs missed out on the playoffs in a three way tiebreaker.

The following season, Freeman and the Bucs crashed back to the bottom of the NFL, as he threw 16 TDs but his INTs skyrocketed to 22 that season. Tampa Bay fell apart mid-season, lost their final 10 games to finish 4-12 and coach Raheem Morris was fired after that losing streak to end his third season.

Then, when the Bucs hired former college coach Greg Schiano, Freeman enjoyed some more short lived success in 2012 as he threw for 4,065 yards for the only time in his career, 27 more TDs, but still 17 INTs. The Bucs went on a win streak midseason of four games to get to 6-4, but then promptly fell apart, again losing five straight and missing the playoffs.

Rumors of too much partying and possible drug use dogged Freeman in the Tampa Bay market.

It was at that point that Schiano made it apparent privately and, even publicly, that he and the Buccaneers were not going to invest franchise money in Freeman long term. The team drafted Mike Glennon out of N.C. State in the third round of the 2013 Draft and from the beginning of training camp that year, Schiano looked to rid the Bucs of Freeman.

After poor play and an 0-3 start that year, Schiano benched Freeman for Glennon in week four, as the Bucs played the Cardinals at home. They lost that game, too, but more importantly, and amazingly, Schiano convinced the Glazer family to outright release the quarterback, who had started 56 out of 57 games over the previous five years.

The Bucs did so, two days after the Cardinals loss still owing Freeman $6 million guaranteed and the Minnesota Vikings quickly picked him up after he cleared waivers.

The Bucs lost the next four games to drop to 0-8 and eventually fired Schiano the day after the season ended.

Meanwhile, Freeman never caught up from joining the Vikings in October, but their ownership wanted him to get a chance to play, and he did start in one game on Monday Night Football at the N.Y. Giants. Freeman was terrible throwing just 20-53 for 190 yards and a pick. He also suffered a concussion at some point in the second half of the game, and never played again in 2013 sitting the bench behind former #1 pick Christian Ponder.

The Vikings let his contract expire. The Giants themselves, picked up Freeman in April of 2014 as a potential backup to Eli Manning. However, another indication of not putting the work in or not being focused on football was him lasting just one month of the off season before being released by New York.

Freeman didn’t catch on anywhere else and sat out the 2014 season.

In 2015, the Dolphins gave Freeman his fourth different NFL shot and had him in training camp, where he was shaky at best. He played sparingly in the preseason and was released on their final cuts and sat almost the entire 2015 season.

That’s until, the Colts gave him his fifth NFL chance, signing him for the final game of the 2015 regular season, while they rested Andrew Luck. Freeman played in that final game coming on in the first half in relief and threw 15 of 28 for 149 yards one TD and one INT, as the Colts won the finale’ over the Titans at home 30-24.  However, he didn’t stick in Indy either and was released that off season.

And that ended his NFL career, to the moment.

In summation, Freeman has played in one regular season NFL game in the last four years and it was believed that he was basically finished.

That was until Montreal, who had worked him out in the summer of 2017 at a tryout camp, decided to work him out again recently this month, and signed him to a two year deal.

The Alouttes new coach is former Packers boss, Mike Sherman, who was just hired in December after the season ended.

As for Freeman, with the poor track record above, you have to wonder if he even makes it out of the Alouttes’ training camp and to their regular season later this summer.

If he cannot, you would have to think that the career that looked slated for stardom for Freeman with the Bucs in 2010 is completely over.

Once, and for all.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers cornerstone player in 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(This is the first look at all three state NFL teams’ roster and identifying a player that we at F.F.I. believe is the foundation starter for their potential success in 2018)

It’s still a couple of weeks before the Buccaneers gather for training camp at One Buc Place and there’s already uncertainty everywhere. Off a disappointing showing down the stretch with a 5-11 finish in 2017, both head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht were already feeling warmth under their seats.

Now, the perceived team leader, QB Jameis Winston, is suspended for the first three games of the season for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy. And, this has called into question whether he Winston is going to be on borrowed time himself, once he comes back.

So, who is the player that the Bucs will look to for leadership, stability and to help them get through tough times this year? Well, it’s not clear cut in Tampa Bay, but we have a strong guess.

If we are talking cornerstone player for 2018, we are talking yearly Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy.

The reasons are apparent.

McCoy has tenure in the Bucs locker room and has played at the high level for the past six seasons (under three different head coaches) and made the Pro Bowl in each one.

Most importantly, he provides a veteran presence to what is an uncertain situation.

And with the additions of former Eagles DE Vinny Curry in free agency, a trade for Giants Pro Bowler and Superbowl champion Jason Pierre Paul and the drafting of Washington All American DT Vita Vea in the first round, McCoy has more help than at any point in his career.

This means the former #1 pick out of Oklahoma will have a chance to excel, especially right away, this season.

Sure, the Bucs have a “franchise receiver” in Mike Evans, and gave him a huge extension in March. And they have one of the top star defenders in the NFL that few on the national level talk much about in LB LaVonte David.

However, with Winston’s future with the Buccaneers uncertain, Gerald McCoy is the guy to count on for this and the next few seasons.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hall of Fame WR Randy mentoring Bucs QB Jameis Winston in Tampa

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Controversy has followed Jameis Winston throughout his college and NFL careers and now, former controversial NFL star receiver turned ESPN analyst Randy Moss, is trying to help.

As you probably know by now, the Bucs QB is suspended for the first three games this season by the NFL for violation of the personal conduct policy after he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016. It’s the latest in a long line of personal missteps and problems that have dogged Winston off the field, since his days at Florida State.

Meanwhile, Moss, who will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, later this month, has been in Tampa recently working with and apparently trying to help mentor Winston.

Tampa TV station, Fox 13 and reporter Kevin O’Donnell, got exclusive comments from Moss on helping Winston on Tuesday:

“He’s doing things right,” Moss told the station.  “It’s a bump in the road…Man, just continue to fight. It happens…. What he did was wrong. You know. I’m not saying right or wrong. There was a woman involved. So, I’m not going to get into all of that. What he did was wrong. He know (sic) it was wrong. So, I think it’s up to him as a man to understand what he did wrong….to live and learn from it and let it go.”

Moss had early controversies and arrests in his own college career, as he was denied entry at Notre Dame and later kicked off the FSU football team while red-shirting for arrests and probation violations that led him to being back behind bars.

He later thrived at Marshall University, was a Heisman Trophy Finalist, a first round pick by the Vikings and had a 14 year career as one of the most explosive NFL receivers of all time. Moss, who caught for 1,000 or more yards in 10 NFL seasons and is second all time with 156 TD receptions, was voted into the Hall of Fame (above) in his first time on the ballot back in January.

Winston was shown by the station running sprints and making throws to some other prospective NFL receivers at the workout Tuesday, but refused to talk on camera. He has not spoken publicly, since the NFL suspended him two weeks ago. He told the station he will talk at Bucs training camp later in July.

As for Moss, he further said Tuesday that he’s trying to give Winston and other young players advice from his own experiences and failures off the field.

“One of the things that I always told my people: ‘Don’t be scared or shy to tell me no, because I check my pride in at the door….I’ll thank you later, you know, when I’m not behind bars, or when I’m still on a football team.” Moss continued, “A lot of these guys don’t realize that they’re being watched under a microscope and they don’t realize it until it happens to them and they’re out of  job.”

At this point, the fourth year Bucs QB Winston, has to realize that he is on the verge of being out of a job in Tampa. That’s if he doesn’t respond well from the suspension by staying out of trouble and performing well on the field.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Bucs DE Jason Pierre Paul still great reminder of July 4th safety

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are excited to see what former USF and New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul can do on the field in Tampa Bay this fall. After being acquired in a trade with the G-men in March, Pierre Paul hopes to energize an almost non-existent Bucs pass rush from last year.

One thing is for sure, as much as he’s known for being a star on the field, Pierre Paul has become a reminder of “what not to do” and specifically fireworks safety on July 4th.

It was three years ago Wednesday night that Pierre Paul’s decision to celebrate and ignite amateur hand-held fireworks in South Florida led to a horrific and potentially, career threatening right hand injury.

But, out of what could have been football tragedy involving his  hand, Pierre-Paul has made a comeback and is now a national PSA symbol for firework safety.

The beginning of Pierre Paul’s football story is the Deerfield Beach, as a native of Hatian immigrant parents playing  as a Juco star in both California and Kansas. Then, he was brought back to Florida, by coach Jim Leavitt and staff, as USF’s dominant pass rusher in 2009. That year he attained All Big East honors with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss for the Bulls.

This fast tracked Pierre Paul to the NFL after only one season in Tampa and he was drafted 15th overall by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

After a rookie year with 4.5 sacks, he burst on the pro scene in season two with 16.5 sacks for the G-men leading to a Pro Bowl selection and was part of the New York Superbowl victory over the Patriots that February.

Pierre-Paul continued to be regarded as the Giants most consistent pass rushing threat and had another double digit sack season with 12.5 in 2014.

Then came the off season of 2015, where he chose not to sign his one year Franchise Player free agent tender (the Giants still had his exclusive rights) seeking a longer term deal. And, he remained unsigned as of July 4th that year.

That night in 2015 he loaded up a van with handheld amateur fireworks and with friends and neighbors began shooting them off until one obviously malfunctioned and mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized and eventually had multiple surgeries on the hand and his right index finger amputated.

The Giants stood by him, when they could have dumped him for non-football injury, and he eventually made his way back onto the field in November of 2015. Signing a “pro rated” week to week one year deal, his debut came as New York traveled to Raymond James Stadium (Pierre-Paul’s USF home for a season) and he played with a padded “club” protecting his right hand against the Bucs.

He would play in eight total games that season with one sack and then, as further proof of the Giants being in his corner, they re-signed him on a one year $10 million deal for 2016. Pierre-Paul then worked a year ago with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on a July 4th fireworks safety video:

The gnarly image and video of Pierre-Pauls right hand is obviously the deterrent the agency is looking for with the PSA campaign about safety. He played 2016 with a special padded glove to protect the hand/fingers registering another seven sacks before being placed on I.R. with a sports hernia.

Finally, and happiest of all financial endings after the fireworks disaster, Pierre-Paul inked a four year $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in March of last year to stay, so he thought, in New York.

Alas, the Giants had a nightmare of a 2017 season that finished at 3-13. Pierre-Paul had a solid season with 8.5 sacks and 68 total tackles despite the dismal team finish.
Then, Bucs GM Jason Licht swung the deal for Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay agreed to assume his $12.1 million dollar salary for 2018.

So, while it all worked out in the end, obviously, the Jason Pierre-Paul July 4th fireworks mess could have had a much different ending all the way around for he, the Giants and now, the Bucs.

It’s a reminder to stay safe Wednesday night. Leave the handheld fireworks to someone else.

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