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Josh Freeman released by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The inevitable now is official: Josh Freeman has been released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Bucs released their erstwhile starting quarterback Thursday. According to Rapoport, the Bucs called the other 31 teams in an effort to trade Freeman. Finding no takers, the team moved on.

The Bucs will be on the hook for the balance of Freeman's 2013 salary, which is $5.95 million, according to Rapoport.

ESPN's Adam Schefter was first to report Freeman's release.

"We made the decision today to release Josh Freeman," general manager Mark Dominik said Thursday in a statement. "We appreciate his efforts over the past five seasons, but we felt this was in the best interests of both Josh and the Buccaneers."

Rapoport also reported that the Bucs would've taken on Freeman's salary in a trade, but the team was nervous Freeman's representation would've tried to dictate a trade with a restructured contract, per a team source. The source also said the Bucs considered suspending Freeman and trying to fight for his salary, but, in the end, the team's brass deemed it wasn't worth the fight.

Freeman's departure ends an ugly -- and embarrassing -- chapter in team history. The Bucs moved on from Freeman last week, installing third-round draft pick Mike Glennon as their starter. After a week of acrimony, the Bucs finally cut the cord on their former first-round pick and one-time franchise centerpiece.

Though Freeman's struggles on the field served as the catalyst for his exit from Tampa, he will find work in the NFL. The question is which team will bite and how soon.

One option is the Oakland Raiders. The team is unsettled at the quarterback position, and Freeman has a direct connection to offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who was Freeman's former coordinator with the Bucs.

Freeman also has ties to Alex Van Pelt, who currently is the Green Bay Packers' running backs coach and formerly was Freeman's quarterbacks coach with the Bucs. Van Pelt said in 2010 that there was no quarterback in football he would trade if it meant giving up Freeman.

There will be no shortage of potential suitors looking to bring in a talented quarterback who has lost his way.

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