Tampa, Fla. Josh Freeman wants to give himself every opportunity to become Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback, so the rookie insisted on signing a contract before the start of training camp.
“I expressed to my agent that one of my main goals is to become the starter ... and the best way to do that is to be in camp on time,” the first-round draft pick said Friday after agreeing to a five-year deal worth $36 million, including more than $10 million guaranteed.
“Obviously we probably would have liked a little more, and they probably would have liked a little bit less,” Freeman added. “But we all wanted to be in camp on time. That was the main focus.”
Although the Bucs had their sights on the future when they selected him 17th overall, the former Kansas State star was impressive enough during offseason practices that coach Raheem Morris has not ruled out the possibility of playing him right away.
The other quarterbacks in camp are Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich, who have both been starters in the NFL, and second-year pro Josh Johnson.
Morris conceded it may be difficult to ensure each candidate gets enough snaps during camp to give each a true shot at winning the job.
“The older guys deserve the privilege to get the most reps in the beginning,” Morris said, adding that ideally he’d like to settle of a starter before the third preseason game. “The young guy got his chance throughout OTA days and got better and better.”
Freeman wouldn’t speculate on his chances of winding up No. 1 heading into the season.
“Honesty I couldn’t tell you. That’s all the coach’s decision,” Freeman said after he and the rest of the team reported to camp Friday afternoon. “I’m just going to come in and try to give them every reason I can to start me.”
The first practice is today.
“We’ll let the preseason take care of that,” general manager Mark Dominik said when asked if he’d be comfortable heading into the season with a rookie at quarterback.
“I’ve stated all along, and ... Raheem and I have spoken on this a number of times. the best-laid plan is let Josh sit and learn,” Dominik added, “but we’ll let the guys compete and decide that on the field.”