Former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has reportedly signed a deal with the Minnesota Vikings that will pay him $3 million for the rest of the season. Freeman had his fair share of suitors over the past few days, including the Raiders and Bills, but chose the Vikings because of their, well, willingness to pay him $3 million. Other teams were likely a better fit for Freeman, but this looks like a desperation play by Minnesota in an attempt to jump start their season.
Freeman fell out of favor with Greg Schiano and the Bucs relatively early on this season and his play on the field was simply miserable, despite having weapons like Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams to assist him. On the season, Freeman has thrown for an anemic 571 yards on an even worse 45.7% completion rate andvaccounted for just two touchdowns and four turnovers in his three games. Stats like those get you released regardless of your perceived attitude, but the Vikings are obviously looking at a player who has a good track record historically and had a season with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions back in 2010. The only problem there is Freeman has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 55:60 in every other season he’s played.
The signing of Freeman sends a ripple effect throughout the league, so let’s take a look at some players whose dynasty outlook has changed after the signing:
Josh Freeman, QB MIN
Pending he doesn’t totally face plant at practice this week, he could conceivably be under center when the Vikings take on Carolina this week. Christian Ponder will still be given an opportunity to start if he heals up quickly (something tells me he’ll be likely telling the trainers he’s just fine this week), but if Ponder does start, the leash is going to be very short. At some point, it’s likely Freeman gets his chance and it’s also going to be sooner, rather than later. Truth be told, this is a good second chance landing spot for Freeman – the defenses will never be geared to stop him as long as Adrian Peterson is healthy and the other quarterbacks on the roster aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. Don’t forget Freeman is still just 25 years old as well. I’m hesitant in upgrading the likes of Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, Jerome Simpson or any other skill position player on the Vikings because you’d be assuming Freeman is a big upgrade over Ponder and Matt Cassel – his recent play doesn’t really suggest that. However, there is at least some hope generated on that front. Regardless, this is good news on the Freeman side as he’ll soon set out to prove the coaching staff in Tampa had it out for him Let’s just hope he makes it on time to his first team meeting.
Christian Ponder, QB MIN
Ponder has been one the most disappointing quarterbacks drafted recently. The signing of Freeman sends one of two messages to the Ponder camp. First, this could simply mean he’s out of a job. Second, this could mean he’s now on notice he’s in real danger of losing his job. Either way, the Vikings are finally showing the ability to recognize the drafting of Ponder and expectation he could be the quarterback of the future was likely a mistake. You simply don’t sign a new quarterback for the rest of the season and pay him the money they’re paying Freeman and expect Ponder to somehow have the light go on. We may have already seen the last of Ponder as the Vikings starter, if not, we will here shortly.
Matt Cassel, QB MIN
Hope you enjoyed London and guiding the team to a victory. Now, please grab that clipboard. Cassel has to be more than a bit frustrated as the Vikings are looking like a team willing to turn to a player who had a magical season in 201o – problem is, it’s Freeman, not himself.
Terrelle Pryor, QB OAK
There were rumblings the Raiders were looking to bring in Freeman, start him over Terrelle Pryor and cut Matt Flynn. While cutting Flynn still seems like a pretty good decision at any point, Pryor has shown enough improvement this season that it would have likely been a mistake to sign Freeman. Pryor should have the rest of the year to prove he’s the future in Oakland and he’s surprisingly making a pretty good case for it.
Jeff Tuel, QB BUF
The Bills will likely sign another quarterback early this week (Dennis Dixon and Pat White are candidates), but Tuel looks like he’ll be the starter while EJ Manuel recovers. Let’s just say the slow start of CJ Spiller is pretty much the least of the problems for the Bills at the moment. The Bills were supposedly intensifying their efforts to sign Freeman, but they were beaten out by…wait for it….wait for it….the other kind of bills.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK