The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the more curious draft classes in the NFL this year. One of the head-scratching choices they made during the draft was taking quarterback Mike Glennon in the 3rd round.
What makes this pick so odd is that the 3rd round was early to draft a quarterback this year, combined with the fact that the quarterback position didn’t appear to be a glaring need for Tampa Bay heading into the draft. Perhaps by drafting Glennon, the Bucs are already looking ahead to when the contract of current starting quarterback Josh Freeman runs out at the end of the 2013 season. So the question has to be asked, should the Buccaneers just trade Freeman and start Glennon right away?
The Bucs drafting Glennon is a sign that Freeman is not a part of their long-term plans. If Tampa Bay wanted to show some faith in Freeman and boost their depth at the quarterback position, then they would have brought in a veteran quarterback to either back up Freeman or challenge him for the starting spot, and possibly provide some guidance for him along the way. Instead, the coaching staff that inherited Freeman as the quarterback used the team’s second pick in the draft to take a quarterback, despite already having Freeman as the incumbent. If Tampa Bay just wanted a rookie quarterback to serve as a backup, they could have waited at least another round or two to take one; taking Glennon while quarterbacks like Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib, among others, were still available indicates that the Bucs view Glennon as a potential starter, even as a rookie.
Glennon, like most quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, may not be in a position to start right away, but with Tampa Bay being far down on the totem poll in the NFC South, they may not be in a position to compete in the division this season no matter which quarterback is starting. So if the Bucs think that Glennon may be in a position to take over for Freeman a year from now, it wouldn’t hurt to start him as a rookie and let him go through growing pains this season in preparation of becoming a serious competitor in 2014, which will be Greg Schiano’s third season as head coach. This opens up the possibility of trading Freeman before the 2013 season.
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The period between OTA’s and the start of training camp isn’t the ideal time to be making a significant trade, especially one involving a quarterback, but if the Bucs make Freeman available there is bound to be interest from several teams, even if they view Freeman as just an insurance possibility to ensure they can remain competitive if their starting quarterback suffers an injury. If Tampa Bay doesn’t view Freeman as a long term part of their franchise, and it seems like that might be the case, it’s better to get something in return for him now in a trade than to let him go in free agency next offseason and receive no compensation for him.
In the end, the Bucs are likely to hang onto Freeman and force him to hold off Glennon for the starting position. But since there’s evidence that Tampa Bay favors Glennon over Freeman as the quarterback of the future, the Buccaneers should at least consider the possibility of trading Freeman and allowing Glennon to become acclimated to being a starter in the NFL sooner. It would be the unconventional move, but it may actually be the move that makes the most sense and works out best for the Bucs in the long run.