TAMPA — Embattled quarterback Josh Freeman did not show up last week for the team photo of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Freeman was late and did not participate in the annual team photo, which was held a few days before Tampa Bay players voted for team captains.
Freeman was not selected, despite having been a team captain since 2010.
When asked to comment on his absence from the team photo, Freeman responded with a text message to the Tribune: “You know I can’t do Buc non-sanctioned interviews.’’
Freeman, a first-round draft pick out of Kansas State in 2009, is in the final year of his rookie contract. He played poorly down the stretch last year as the Bucs lost five of their final six games to finish 7-9 after a 6-4 start.
In Sunday’s 18-17 loss to the Jets in the season opener, Freeman completed only 15 of 31 pass attempts and threw a second-quarter interception that blunted Tampa Bay’s momentum.
It’s not the first time Freeman was late to a function.
In June, Freeman was late on the first day of his football camp for kids at Wesley Chapel High School. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson filled in for Freeman, who said his absence was due to car trouble.
The 25-year-old Freeman is 24-33 as a starter for the Buccaneers, who face New Orleans in Sunday’s home opener.
Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano flatly denied on Wednesday a story on the Pro Football Talk website suggesting votes to determine the team captains might have been manipulated.
“That story is 100 percent inaccurate,’’ said Schiano, who acknowledged he tabulated the votes by Tampa Bay players last week.
Jackson and guard Davin Joseph were elected offensive team captains over quarterback Freeman, who had worn a “C’’ since his breakthrough 2010 season, when he led the Bucs to a 10-6 mark in his first full season as a starter.
According to Pro Football Talk, a league source said questions about the legitimacy of the vote came up at a players-only meeting in the days before the loss to the Jets.