Telling a room full of reporters that Josh Freeman is your quarterback and you believe he has the ability to one day help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win a second Super Bowl is one thing.
Telling that to Freeman’s agent as you embark on a new round of contract negotiations is quite another, but that is what the Bucs did during a recent meeting with Freeman’s new representatives.
“It was really positive,’’ agent Erik Burkhardt told The Tampa Tribune of the recent meeting he had with Bucs officials at the NFL scouting combine. “They said they definitely believe in Josh, that he is their guy, that they want to reach their goals with him and that they know he is capable of doing the job and are committed to him.’’
The meeting took place just days after Schiano told reporters at the combine in late February he inadvertently sparked a quarterback controversy the day after the 2012 season ended in early January by saying he was unsure of Freeman’s future with the Bucs.
“I screwed that thing up,’’ Schiano said at the combine. “At the end of the season, the day after the final game, I probably said something that got a lot more attention than I meant for it to and that it needed to.
“So, just so you know, Josh Freeman is our quarterback and I believe that with Josh Freeman we'll be able to accomplish our goals. That's my belief and our organization's belief.''
The meeting between the Bucs and Burkhardt was not sparked by those comments, but planned as an introductory session necessitated by Freeman’s recent decision to change agencies and representatives.
Freeman’s former agent, Ken Kremer of Creative Artists Agency, retired from the player representation field. Freeman is now represented by Burkhardt and Jeff Nalley of Select Sports Group.
The change comes at a crucial time for Freeman, who is about to enter the final season of the five-year, $26 million contract he signed after the team selected him 17th overall in the 2009 draft.
Freeman, 25, set career highs by throwing for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012, but was intercepted four times apiece in consecutive, late-season losses to New Orleans and St. Louis.
Burkhardt would not say whether any actual contract negotiations took place during the meeting with the Bucs, or when the two sides might meet again, but is confident the sides are striving toward the same goal.
“This is a very important time in his career for Josh,’’ Burkhardt said. “He’s about to hit the prime of his career now and do some really special things and we just wanted the Bucs to know that Josh really wants to be there and be the franchise guy he has been and will continue to be.’’