The Oakland Raiders do not have a clear answer at the quarterback position. Yesterday I wrote about the need to bring in a free agent passer to help step up the competition in training camp. Even if the Raiders draft a quarterback and keep both guys they have on their roster from last season, they can afford another arm in camp (sorry Trent Edwards but here’s to hoping you get cut long before then). Bringing in a free agent quarterback makes sense on a lot of levels from experience to cost.
Last season when Josh Freeman was put on the trade block by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I was one of the people who vehemently did not want the Raiders to trade for him. Giving up players or picks and taking on his contract made absolutely no sense at the time. When he was subsequently released by the Buccaneers, I still did not want him because he was still not cheap and coming to a team that late in the season was a recipe for disaster.
His first start with the Minnesota Vikings was not unlike Carson Palmer’s first start with the Oakland Raiders. Rushed into a system he did not know for a team with players he had no chemistry with and disaster followed. But now that Freeman has demolished his stock with a bad reputation in Tampa Bay and horrific play in Minnesota, does he actually make sense for the Raiders?
That depends on his price tag, but under the right circumstances, he makes a ton of sense for the Raiders. The key to the equation is Freeman’s willingness to negotiate a “prove it” style contract where he does not represent a big financial risk to the Raiders. While there is not a whole lot available at the quarterback position in free agency this year, there never is. The lack of available talent should not drive Freeman’s price too high considering his recent history.
If Freeman is willing to sign a “prove it” type contract where he can be cut at some point without being a big hit on the Raiders cap number, he would actually make a lot of sense for the Raiders.
Freeman is young and has shown the ability to be a high caliber quarterback in the NFL. In his best season he finished with a quarterback rating of 95.9 and only 6 interceptions while still throwing for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns and completing more than 60% of his passes. There are a lot of quarterbacks who can never say they have had a year like that. Plus, as has already been noted, Greg Olson, the Raiders current offensive coordinator was the offensive coordinator for Freeman at the time.
His most recent complete season as a starter came in 2012 when he threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns with 17 interceptions, finishing with a quarterback rating of 81.6 and completing more than 54% of his passes. That is not too shabby of a season and not very long ago. Sure, the fall has been steep and quick for Freeman, but that may not be a bad thing.
Freeman had a horrific year in 2013, from drama to performance he really hurt his stock in the NFL. But let’s not forget that he was playing for the currently unemployed Greg Schiano who vigorously proved he was incapable of coaching at the NFL level. The Raiders have welcomed reject players in the past with great success. It would be a massive stretch to say Freeman could be the next Rich Gannon or Jim Plunkett, but this very well could be a situation where the kid can play, but only under the right circumstances.
If he comes at the right price, why not see if those right circumstances are in Oakland?
UPDATE: Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area sure seems to think Freeman makes sense in Oakland. In his recent chat session, Bair predicted that Freeman would be the Raiders opening day starter.