NFL Free Agency 2014: Might Raiders again show interest in Josh Freeman?

Al Bello

Here's a bit of information that is not news to just about anyone; the Raiders need a quarterback. They may need more than one. They have been in the market for a quarterback since early last season when the Matt Flynn experiment blew up in their face and they cut him from the team.

At that time, the Raiders had "definite interest" in the services of Josh Freeman who was cut by the Buccaneers midseason. The interest made sense not just because of the need at the position but because Freeman's former offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, is the Raiders' offensive coordinator.

"I've always been a fan of Josh's," Olson said at the time. "I have a lot of respect for him as a person and a player. It was unfortunate for me to watch what happened in Tampa here, really, over the last couple years. He's a great player."

Freeman reciprocated with a text he sent to Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game in which he said "Raider Nation is great. I've worked with Greg Olson & he is a great coordinator."

As far as the fans were concerned, the interest was split pretty evenly. Some fans wanted to bring Freeman in as competition with Terrelle Pryor while others had faith that Pryor was the answer to the Raiders QB questions and there was no need to complicate things by introducing Freeman to the mix.

Since then a lot has changed. Freeman chose to sign with the Vikings where the owner forced the coach's hand and started him before he had a grasp of the offense. Freeman failed miserably, as one would expect. He threw the ball 53 times in the game, completed just 38% of his passes with no TD's and one interception. He received a lot of blowback for that one start despite having just thrown for over 4000 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Buccaneers in 2012.

Meanwhile, Pryor embarked on a terrible stretch at quarterback for the Raiders, went down with an injury at midseason and couldn't get his job back from undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. By season's end, it became pretty clear the Raiders didn't have a definite answer at quarterback and Dennis Allen said as much in his end of season press conference.

Now, we are in the off-season and the free agent quarterback cupboard is pretty much bare. Unless of course you are high on the pick six machine Matt Schaub, 34 year old, oft-injured Mike Vick, or former Raiders backup Josh McCown. Freeman looks pretty decent among this group.

The draft is usually the best way to build a team, we all know that. Most great quarterbacks become great for the team that drafted them. But the Raiders have a lot of needs beyond quarterback and what if the quarterback they have their eye on is not there when they pick? That happened last year when the Eagles jumped ahead of the Raiders to take Matt Barkley. The Raiders settled for Tyler Wilson and he couldn't even make the team out of camp.

Greg Olson is one of just two assistant coaches who was still under contract at season's end so he will be back next season. Freeman had his best season in the NFL under Olson when he threw for 25 touchdowns to 6 interceptions to lead the Bucs to a 10-6 record in his second season with the team.

Freeman fell out of favor with head coach Greg Schiano in Tampa and lost his job to talented rookie, Mike Glennon. Following his benching, several ‘leaks' came out of Freeman being part of the league's drug rehab program - something that is supposed to be confidential. Schiano and the Bucs did everything they could to sully Freeman's name before ultimately cutting ties with him. It seems to make a whole lot more sense considering Schiano was widely disliked in NFL circles and was fired at season's end.

For the Raiders' sake, it could be wise not to judge Freeman on his departure from the Buccaneers or his one unprepared start with the Vikings, but rather by the testimony of his former offensive coordinator. Even if the Raiders do end up drafting a quarterback, Freeman would be an ideal insurance plan in case that quarterback is not ready to jump in and start right away.

There was definite interest before and the likelihood seems just as strong now, if not stronger. Freeman could also see a real chance to start right away in Oakland which would make signing with the Raiders that much more attractive.

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