Head coach Greg Schiano is sending starting quarterback Josh Freeman to the bench in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, who will make his first NFL start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Schiano said last week at New England that he didn't consider pulling Freeman, dismissing the fact that Glennon warmed up on the sideline in the third quarter of the 23-3 loss that dropped the Buccaneers' record to 0-3.
On Monday, he said "Josh is our starter," when pressed about the quarterback pecking order.
"I think he understands what we're trying to do with our offense," Schiano said. "I think when he's in the pocket, he feels comfortable delivering the ball. It's when things break down a little bit that it hasn't been as good as it's been before, and it will be again."
Two days later, Freeman and the entire roster learned in a team meeting that Glennon would start and general manager Mark Dominik didn't shy away from the idea that Freeman could be traded by Oct. 21, the NFL trade deadline.
"Right now, Josh goes in as our No. 2 quarterback,'' Dominik said told USA Today. "I'm not going to hold Josh hostage. But if we get something, we get something. We're not going to give him away.''
The Buccaneers scored three offensive touchdowns in the first three games. Freeman was sacked seven times with a completion percentage of 45.7.
"The main thing for us was the performance of the team the last nine games was 1-8 and that's tough,'' Dominik said. "He hasn't played well. That's a part of it. If you don't have a quarterback in this league, you don't have a shot. We felt like we'd seen enough of what we needed to see.''
Freeman, criticized for not throwing unless receivers are entirely uncovered downfield and erratic accuracy, is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. The biggest knock on Glennon, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound pocket passer, is accuracy and limited mobility.
Schiano addressed Glennon's accuracy in minicamp.
"The thing with the accuracy, if you watch, he had an extraordinarily high number of dropped passes. Certainly not every throw is on the spot, but that's something we took into account," he said.
Schiano recruited Glennon, a Virginia high school star, when he was the head coach at Rutgers. Glennon said he recalls how dejected Schiano was when the 17-year-old Glennon told him he wanted to play in the ACC.
Glennon, known for his arm strength, has enough physical skills to excel. When the Buccaneers evaluated him, they rated Glennon as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the 2013 draft because of his ability to push the ball downfield with ease to top outside targets Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
Glennon was the backup to Russell Wilson at North Carolina State before Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for the 2011 season. Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012, has excelled in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks.
"Being with him for three years I just learned everything he does behind the scenes," Glennon said. "He does everything the right way. He works tremendously hard. He always tries to find something to do. He never wastes a minute and always wants to get better. There's a lot I took away from Russell, not as much as stuff you see on Sundays but how he prepare."