Josh Freeman fined twice, Buccaneers locker room filed with fear and distrust

USA TODAY Sports

The plot thickens, as Josh Freeman is issued fines and tales of locker room discontent surface.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fined Josh Freeman twice in the last months, including once last week, according to Sports Illustrated. According to Sports Illustrated, Josh Freeman is appealing the fines, which totaled $31,500 with $10,500 for his unauthorized ESPN interview, per Rick Stroud.

The Bucs may be attempting to build a case to suspend Freeman without pay with these fines, which would save them around $500,000 per week in salary and cap space if they can't find a trade partner. Any such suspension is likely to be heavily contested by the NFLPA, however.

To make matters a little worse, Andrew Brandt reports that there is an "atmosphere of fear and distrust" among the players, based on his conversations with agents of Tampa Bay players. Apparently coaches are roaming through the locker room, which usually does not happen, and they are taping players on the sidelines to point out those horsing around or laughing during losses.

If those allegations are true, that's a pretty damning indictment of the current regime. Then again, if the reports of the past few days aren't indictments, then what is? The Bucs are starting to sound more and more like Eric Mangini's Cleveland Browns, Todd Haley's Kansas City Chiefs and Josh McDaniels' Denver Broncos: teams with overly strict head coaches who created a very unpleasant work atmosphere and made enemies of some of their players.

None of those coaches survived very long. Greg Schiano may not make it to 2014, either, unless the Bucs start winning quickly.

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