The four-year pro will play out his rookie contract in the 2013 season as the team determines if he is its quarterback of the future.
Freeman set franchise records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) in 2012, but he was wildly inconsistent. He showed flashes of brilliance in the Bucs' 6-4 start that had them in the playoff discussion, but his play disintegrated down the stretch, including two four-interception disasters, as the team went 1-5.
The proverbial lame-duck quarterback was drafted before coach Greg Schiano took over in Tampa Bay, so there is no inherent loyalty involved. The Bucs also want to avoid a crippling financial mistake, a la the New York Jets' $40 million contract extension for quarterback Mark Sanchez.
If Freeman's inconsistency continues to outweigh his athleticism and the positives he brings to the game, the Bucs can move on without repercussion. If he rights the ship, they can sign him to a new contract or place the franciche tag on him next offseason.
Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.