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Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

In 2010, a 22-year-old Josh Freeman was among the NFL's top ten quarterbacks in touchdowns, passer rating, touchdown rate, interception rate, game-winning drives, total offense, and passing DYAR and DVOA. The rest of his career has been, well, the rest of his career. One of the strangest cases of promise and then collapse you'll ever see.

Miami will enter training camp with Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson as its quarterbacks.


48 comments, Last at 28 Jul 2015, 11:07pm

1 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

That's because there's something wrong in Tampa.
A decade from now, someone should make a documentary on what happened to that team after Jon Gruden left.

2 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

The Giants cut him last year in mini camp because he lined the offense up in the wrong formation, and now the Dolphins cut him in the entirely non-eventful period between mini camp and training camp. There seems to be something seriously wrong with Josh Freeman, as much as I hate admitting that Greg Schiano might have been right about something. I feel bad for the guy, considering the treatment he got under Schiano and then in Minnesota, but you don't get cut this early as often as he has been unless you're screwing things up pretty badly.

Oh man, I just looked up the stats for that game where Minnesota stuck him out there after just a few days of practice. 20-53 for 190 yds and a pick. That's 37% and 3.6 ypa. They made him throw FIFTY-THREE times when he didn't even really have a chance to learn the playbook. I've never seen a team go so far out of it's way to make their own guy look bad.

5 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Except Oakland didn't start Palmer that game. Kyle Boller started and threw 3 picks in the first half and they turned things over to Palmer after halftime instead of giving him that game and the bye week to actually learn the offense.

32 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Not only that, but Oakland stuck with Palmer and he rapidly took over; after that game, he went 191-307 for 2637 yards and 13 touchdowns in a half-season, for a Raiders team utterly bereft of offensive talent aside from Veldheer and Marcel Reese. He made Brandon Myers a fantasy commodity, for chrissake.

Something tells me Freeman would not have turned the Vikings season around, but I don't understand why he never started again...

44 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Rumor has it that the coaching staff didn't want Freeman and they were upset that the front office had acquired him. So they stuck him out there unprepared and made sure he embarrassed himself so they could say "told you he sucks" to the GM and not use him again. It's really the only thing that makes sense as far as making him throw 53 times when he's comically out-of-sync with the offense. Ponder averaged 26 attempts/game that season, so it's not like they weren't used to coming up with run-heavy gameplans to hide a limited QB.

4 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

This is something that really troubles me with our universe and the linear causality of things.

It is possible that Josh Freeman would be a much 'better' QB if he was in the right situation with coaching and teammates and expectations. But like with so many Browns QBs we will never know just how good or bad someone is because the only chances and opportunities they get are from the dregs of the league with inferiority at every level of the franchise.

It's one of those 'what-ifs' where I hope going into a singularity would allow me to see infinite Josh Freeman universes.

6 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

In general, those Browns QBs have continued to be unimpressive at best when put into a "better" situation. It always ends up being the right decision to give up on them - it was just the wrong choice to pick them in the first place, at least as high draft pick/starter material. (Not to mention that the "better" situations often are not really so; Weeden had 4 pro bowlers on offense, Derek Anderson had a few, and the current Browns actually have a lot of line talent.)

It's unlikely that even Hoyer will break that trend and be more than an adequate game manager (even as he himself came from an "ideal situation" being able to learn from Brady. His Browns situation is also a bit of an exception because he was expected to be a backup, was an UDFA rather than a costly first-rounder, and he was liked for merely not being as bad as Weeden/McCoy on top of being a hometowner.)

7 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I've heard he has a bad drug/alcohol problem fwiw (very little). His career trajectory certainly doesn't make sense.

8 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

He's earned 28 million bucks. Here's hoping he didn't dump it all in his liver/veins/nose/lungs. Or into a posse. Or 7 kids by 6 women. Plus two wives that didn't bear any of his children. Or 4 restaurant schemes while partnering with a guy named Manny or Vito. Or a scheme guaranteeing 75% annual returns, run by a guy named John or Michael.

Christ on a Crutch, there really are a lot of ways for an eff-up to effup, aren't there?

12 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Compared to what 70%+ of NFL athletes do with their money, "keeping it under the mattress" (i.e., in a checking account) is actually a FAR superior option to what they choose to do with their fortune. The average NFL star loses millions in poor investments (and "investments").

13 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I always get annoyed when people say the rich make enough money that they can just live off their investments.

No and you don't need to have the habits Will listed above to still blow through 28 million. Freeman can invest the money wisely, but if lives the lifestyle of an average multimillionaire, he will still go bankrupt because he has no regular income. Leaving aside risk, investments only "make" money as long as they are reinvested and allowed to grow. If you sell off assets to pay for expenditures, you're going to blow through even well invested money.

Which raises a legitimate question. What do nfl players do once their careers end? Most cannot become analysts on tv or be coaches, so they must find some kind of regular work. What skills did they pick up in their careers that translate to the regular economy?

14 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Freeman can invest the money wisely, but if lives the lifestyle of an average multimillionaire, he will still go bankrupt because he has no regular income.

So don't live the lifestyle of an average multimillionaire. Live on $200,000 a year, which is still the kind of income most Americans will never see.

I realize that if you didn't grow up with money (and I don't know anything about Freeman's upbringing, but a lot of pro football players didn't grow up with money) it's easy to mismanage, and I do think the NFL could do a lot more to educate players who are instant millionaires about how to make that money last. But if Freeman blows through $28 million and winds up broke, I'm going to have a hard time feeling sorry for him.

16 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

If the NFL tried to put a clause in that said, say, 10% (2.8 mil for Josh Freeman) of the salary gets put into a trust fund in case everything else goes wrong and can be drawn from in such a scenario (and can be checked out of should they reach a certain criteria that shows they have transitioned successfully into a post playing career)....

the agents and union would fight it tooth and nail. They would cry bloody murder and scream about how this is insulting to the intelligence of players to not be able to do what they want with their money. Hell the agents could set something like that up now for their clients if they wanted to, but don't (that I am aware of).

18 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

If we assume after taxes (I believe Florida has no income tax) and expenses of living and so forth, Freeman was able to invest only 50% of his NFL income, and he's able to earn a 5% return, he should actually have 700k a year to live on.

That's absent any kind of endorsement deals, which surely after his one good season, he could have made another 1-2 million appearing in commercials for Tampa Bay car dealers or whoever.

21 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

The issue is - that 5 percent return comes in the form of stock appreciation and dividends/coupon payments, rather than just a check that he gets from the stocks he owns. Analyzing the return on strictly dividend yielding stocks depend on what kind of stocks he owns, but by in large, if you are looking for big dividend payments, typically the return coefficient becomes much lower(With the caveat that those dividends are not reinvested). And bonds historically have been much lower return wise than stocks, unless you're willing to take on huge risk(see Greece).

In other words, he would need to sell the stocks to pay off the cleaning lady and the electricity bill every month. That incurs a tax before any income comes his way. But if he keeps doing that, the base gets lowered and then eventually(however slowly), the base becomes too little to pay off stuff.

OF course, that doesn't include risk or crazy expenditures he might incur.

I'm not saying its impossible to make it work, its actually quite easy if he lives a modest lifestyle and carefully plans his expenses. But since most people have a hard time accurately budgeting and forecasting, I doubt he will. Frankly, he needs to think hard about what kind of opportunities for employment are there for him.

25 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

It's kind of interesting how different personalities react to money, regardless of life circumstances. Kevin Garnett, who had a really pretty tough upbringing, has earned well in excess of 300 million in NBA salaries his career, and he started making huge money right out of high school. I've heard it said that trying to get him to spend 5 bucks is a long conversation, to the point where I would not be surprised if the 190 million dollar estimated net worth I've read for him is a lowball figure. One wife, one child, probably 3 or 4 homes.

Other guys had easier childhoods, and are broke before their playing career is over.

35 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Let's start at $28M. FL has no state income tax, but for a worst case scenario, let's pretend he played for the Giants instead and paid 39.6% Federal tax, plus 8.82% State and 3.876% NYC income taxes, for a total marginal rate of 52.3%. His effective rate probably be at only around 45%, but let's round up to 50% to account for sales & real estate taxes, etc.

So $14M to start. If you put away half of that, you have $7M in savings at the end of your playing career.

A very conservative 5% estimated growth/yield means 350k per year; if you consume 2/3 of that, and roll the remaining 1/3 back into the principal, you've still got 230k in income per year, while your nest egg earns 2% annual return.

That puts you below inflation, but the point isn't to beat inflation - it's to make it last your entire life. Keep in mind, that 230k comes after you've presumably already bought a modest house in a state with no income tax and low cost of living, like Florida or Nevada. 230k/year with a fully paid mortgage covers a very comfortable lifestyle.

37 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Well...it all depends on what he invested in. If it was all in stocks that payed no dividends, then he collects 0 in terms of actual day to day income. He would thus need to sell of his assets and reinvest the difference. But fundamentally, he's rebuying fewer shares because the share price went up and he has less money after paying expenditures.

Look I should concede without trying to sound argumentative that hes made enough money to live comfortably even if he never works. That said, people wonder how someone can make a ton of money and go broke. When you actually see the day to day expenditures of living the life of a rich person(i'm not talking rap stars here, just your rich family of four), its not that surprising. Vacations, mortgages, college tuition, cars, expenditures of various kinds. It all adds up and when you bring in no income, the bleeding happens even faster.

If i were his agent/financial advisor/friend - I would tell him to invest wisely(ie - find a reasonable level of risk and diversify) and then try and find a career.

39 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

This is absolutely true - it's also the reason so many lottery winners tend to go bankrupt. It's probably even more acute with professional athlete who have far more legitimate expenses (personal trainers, dietitians, insurance, attorneys, publicists, private detectives/security, etc) than the average lottery winner, and at a much younger age. I also recall quite a lot of players getting caught in the same hedge fund scams in the 00's that got a lot of other high net-worth individuals who were presumably better informed.

The thing is, though, we've already factored much of that into the equation - the 7M post-career savings already assumes $7M in consumption during his earning years. While yes, it is very easy for a young guy without a lot of experience with money to get overwhelmed by all of those things we've discussed, this is all pretty basic stuff for any reputable agent - so much so that I almost feel like the NFL should require a formal code of conduct for any representation hired by a player.

Not that it would do much to deter the crooks and scammers, but I feel like the league (or, at the very least, the franchises) have an interest in reducing the likelihood that their highly visible former employees do not find themselves in a situation where they are desperate enough to do something like transport 200 kg of drugs to try and pay the bills.

22 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I swear, if I was an agent, I'd consider it my fiduciary duty to inform these guys, as soon as they were drafted, that vasectomies are reversible, that they only can drive one car at a time, so they may as well own just one, and it may as well be one that you don't care if it gets dinged in a parking lot, and really, two homes, whose taxes can be paid with one game check, is plenty. No marriage before age 30, and even then with a good prenup. Until you've worked in a business, you have no business becoming a partner in one. Put the money in a place where it is only periodically accessible, so when somebody asks for some, you can honestly say you don't have access to it. Don't take any phone calls on the days you do have access to it. Don't borrow or co-sign a note, even with a gun to your head.

If nothing else, these guys would have a better chance of finding out who their real friends are.

26 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

The only agent I've met does tell his players essentially that. And he sends them to a series of advisors when he signs them--businesspeople, former athletes, consultants, etc.--to make sure they're not only hearing the lessons from him.

30 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Will - every suggestion you make about how they could keep their money is correct - it's what you and I would do. Beyond agents advising it, the NFL's Rookie Symposium deals with building a financial portfolio. The education is there but it requires the 21-year-old testosterone male to be willing to listen not just think "I'm rich so that means no-one can tell me what to do".

I suspect a bigger issue is family and friends. When you get thrown into a whole new world such as the NFL, it makes you feel insecure so the typical response is to run back to a familiar environment or even try to buy new friends. You have to be a very strong 21-year-old who says "Hey guys just because I can afford to pick up a $5,000 bar tab, doesn't mean I will be doing it".

36 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

"You need to do something with it"

Let's say he has 25M left of those 28M and has what - 50 years to live.

Even if he did nothing with it, he can spend half a million per year until he's dead.
That's 10 times the average USA income.

And I didn't even calculate tax rate. I don't live in the USA, so I don't know how high that is. But at 1.5% of 25M then you're at 375k a year. Income.

I didn't think of income tax. I don't know how much it is, but you can figure it out yourself.

10 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

It seems to me that where you get drafted and what kind of environment/coaching you have coming in has a huge impact on quarterbacks. Talent is important but perhaps less so than everyone tends to believe. Elements like adaptability, attitude, confidence, leadership, and study habits are things that can be enhanced with coaching. Then again a lot of these guys have been told how great they are since literally grade school; I suspect it is hard to get some of them to listen. I don't know the story on Freeman but the places he found himself certainly did not help.

15 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I honestly don't think Freeman would have succeeded even if he had gone to another team. I don't think he'd have washed out so quickly, but I have a hard time seeing him being anything above an average starter.

20 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I heard from various sources of unknown unreliability that his work ethic didn't come close to what is demanded of a NFL starting qb. Eli has had his troughs but I doubt putting the time in has been an issue.

24 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

I have a pretty harsh view of qbs. If i dont see something in two years, I'm ready to write you off permanently. Occasionally, that will mean writing off a player like Eli/Brees/ Alex Smith to some extent. But then I remember Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, Jamarcus Russell, etc etc./

29 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

So I was curious to see if any other QBs had been so good as Freeman, so young, and then collapsed.

Freeman's big year was in 2010. He was pretty bad in 2011, but bounced back in 2012 to below-average but still way above replacement level in 2012. Then he played four games in 2013 and hasn't played since.

The most similar player to Freeman 2010-12 is Joe Flacco 10-12, followed by Andy Dalton 11-13, Matt Ryan 09-11, Flacco 09-11, Brett Favre 92-94, Aaron Brooks 02-04, then a few other versions of Flacco and Favre.

The most similar player to Freeman 2011-13 is Carson Palmer 06-08. (Palmer, like Freeman in 2013, played in only four games in 2008.) Their similarity between each other is just 571, so they weren't very similar at all. After Palmer we get Vince Ferragamo 82-84, Gus Frerotte 96-98, Scott Mitchell 96-98, Brian Griese 01-03, and Jeff George 94-96.

Just for fun, the closest match for Freeman 2012-14 is Alex Smith 06-08 (he missed all of 2008, remember), followed by Randall Cunningham 94-96, Chris Weinke 01-03, Jon Kitna 07-09, and Hugh Millen 91-93. Weinke, Millen, and (by that point) Kitna were backups anyway. Smith had many starting seasons after his injury. Cunningham left the NFL for a while, then came back and had his best seasons ever. George is probably the best match for Freeman because his problems were mental and not physical, but he never missed an entire season like Freeman has, let alone two.

31 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Just following the basic "so good as Freeman, so young, and then collapsed," I did a search on pfr for anyone who had an ANY/A+ of 100 or better at age 23 or younger on at least 200 pass attempts (http://pfref.com/tiny/fn4c7) and I could really only find three examples:

Robert Griffin was much better at the same age and seems to have collapsed, though his collapse seems to be more injury-related.

Matt Robinson put up a rather similar season with the Jets in 1978 at age 23 then all but disappeared, only resurfacing to provide seven games of pure suck with the 1980 Broncos. He threw 95 passes total outside of those two seasons.

David Woodley had a decent season at age 23 for the '81 Dolphins and then was absolutely atrocious for a year and a half before being replaced by some rookie. He then left for Pittsburgh and had one really good season splitting time with Mark Malone in '84 before falling apart (though still outperforming Malone) in '85. He then retired before the next season began, then attempted a comeback with the Packers in '87 but got cut and never played again.

Note that since 15 is a standard deviation in ANY/A+ and Freeman had a 113 in 2010, it would probably be more accurate to set the cutoff at 98. If you do that, Tim Couch also shows up. But since his best year was a 7-start season in 2000 and he was considerably worse both before and after, his looks more like a small sample fluke than a good season at a young age.

One other player who did something similar early in his career was Michael Vick. He put up good passing numbers in 2002 at age 22 then collapsed to well below average until 2010. Obviously, it's pretty difficult to compare anyone's career to Vick's, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that similarity.

33 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

That's really interesting. What that seems to tell me is that when a qb has a good season - it doesn't mean hes going to be a probowler, but it does imply hes got the skills to be at least a decent starter. For freeman to wash out like this is pretty surprising. That said, I've never heard of him having commitment to the nfl issues like Vince young or lack of desire to work hard like Lienert

45 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

There was a lot of noise during the Schiano year of Freeman showing up late to meetings and not putting in the work. It was just hard that year to filter out what was actually true and what was just Schiano's signature brand of hyper-macho nonsense. Similar stories leaked out of Minnesota after he left, and the Giants cut him for not knowing the offense at mini-camp. There have been enough teammates complaining about his work ethic that there has to be some truth to it. Nathan above says drugs/alcohol have been an issue for him, and that would go a long way to explain his implosion.

43 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

While accounts differ a bit, it sounds like most people don't think his drinking really became a problem until the last year of his career, though it did eventually kill him. And of course, people saying it wasn't an issue doesn't mean it wasn't. I'm not sure if you have to be an insider, but here's a story ESPN did on him when he died: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/news/story?id=3209245

A very sad story.

41 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

Matt Robinson put up a rather similar season with the Jets in 1978 at age 23 then all but disappeared,

Robinson was the Jets starter going into the 1979 season, but sprained his thumb shortly before the opener while play-wrestling with a teammate. He then compounded the problem by 1) not telling coach Walt Michaels until a day or two before the game, when it was too late to get the backup QB ready; 2) lying to Michaels and the media that he hurt his thumb while trying to turn a doorknob just as someone was entering from the other side; and 3) throwing a wobbly interception with 30 seconds left in overtime, turning a tie into a loss.

Robinson never took another snap at quarterback for the Jets and was traded a month after the season ended.

46 Re: Dolphins Cut Josh Freeman

...and now Freeman has been resigned. Were the coaches so impressed with his begging for another chance that they said ok? Assuming he got cut due to lack of dedication.

Who, me?