Where do you go when your career hits rock bottom?
Home, usually. That’s where Josh Freeman ended up after three different teams within a calendar year decided they didn’t want him on their roster anymore.
So home is where he spent his 10-month NFL exile. Freeman, the former first-round pick of the Buccaneers, went back to his native Kansas City.
“I just continued to work,” Freeman said Friday. “For me personally, I felt like, during the year, it was probably better to let things cool down. I had a pretty rocky year the previous year.”
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During that tumultuous year, he was a cautionary tale. The old joke is the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” but Freeman didn’t find it very funny.
He threw 27 touchdown passes in 2012. He didn’t throw a pass of any kind in 2014.
If Freeman throws one for the Dolphins this year, it’ll probably mean their season has come off the rails. But at least he’s back on an NFL roster after signing a one-year deal with Miami on Thursday. Whether he stays there is largely up to him.
Freeman has a chance to become Miami’s No. 3 quarterback, a low-stress way to ease back into the league. And he’ll work with an offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, who has a reputation of getting the most out of his quarterbacks.
“My goal is to come here and become the best player I can,” Freeman said. “Talking with the coaches [Wednesday], they are just all about everyone trying to get better at football, develop as a football player. That’s my goal.”
Freeman has never lacked for confidence — and remains that way, even after his public fall from grace. After starting all but eight games for Tampa Bay in his first four years, he clashed with then-Bucs coach Greg Schiano and was never the same.
He has appeared in just four games since the start of the 2013 season, including one disastrous start for the Vikings after the Bucs cut him midseason. In a Monday night game against the Giants, Freeman completed just 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.
He hasn’t set foot on an NFL field since. He signed with the Giants in early 2014 but didn’t even make it to training camp.
“It’s actually not an uncommon thing for guys to get cut, guys to get out of the league,” Freeman said. “But it’s not how I view myself, it’s not what I see for myself in the future.”