The Vikings have signed embattled quarterback Josh Freeman to a 1-year $3-million contract. How does this impact the Viking quarterback situation? Daniel House discusses this and more in his latest post.
The Vikings signed quarterback Josh Freeman to a one year three million dollar contract early on Monday morning. No roster move has been announced, but it is sure to cause some shuffling of the Vikings roster over the next 24 hours. Freeman, a five year veteran out of Kansas State, has played the duration of his career with the Tampa Buccaneers, but has been plagued with character issues.
My initial belief was Freeman would be brought in as a backup in 2013, but would compete for the starting job next season. Based upon the contract specifics, he will be starting for this team during the season. It doesn't seem as if he would be ready to start this Sunday versus the Panthers, but at this point, I wouldn't be surprised. The Vikings didn't pay Freeman three million dollars to stand on the sidelines in 2013, he will be seen under center sooner rather than later.
So what does this do to the outlook of the Vikings quarterback position?
It means the Christian Ponder era in Minnesota is likely over just three years after he was drafted with the 12th overall pick. He is now the third highest paid quarterback on this team, which indicates the Vikings commitment to the development of Ponder is over. I have been a Ponder supporter from the start, but he has had the opportunity to solidify himself as a starter in this league and hasn't executed. The Vikings waited for the Bucs to part ways with Freeman, which meant they wouldn't have to provide compensation through a trade. I'm not upset about this move, in fact, I believe he is a better quarterback than Christian Ponder, which makes this trade logical.
I have determined after the practices and analysis for nearly two weeks in Mankato, that Matt Cassel isn't an answer for this team at quarterback. Last week, he competed against a Steelers team that is in absolute shambles and narrowly won the matchup. I don't believe he is the upgrade this team needs at the quarterback position. This signing sends a signal that the Vikings are concerned Matt Cassel isn't a long-term option for this team, along with Christian Ponder.
From a skill standpoint, Freeman has displayed brilliant arm strength, but has had problems with turnovers, and third down conversions. I attribute this to the scheme the Bucs have established and the 'love-hate' relationship between Freeman and Bucs head coach Greg Schiano. Many people have discussed how the Tampa Bay offense is behind the curve in offensive development from a schematic standpoint, which may have contributed to Freeman's struggles in Tampa. The difficult throws he was asked to make with the Bucs won't be presented in the Vikings style of offense. The Bucs stress vertical passing and this caused Freeman to be placed in poor situations on third and long, especially when he tried to thread the needle. The Vikings offense stresses passing over the middle of the field, which should benefit the cause. Freeman has the arm strength to stretch the field and hasn't had receivers such as Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, and Cordarrelle Patterson in his arsenal. He has the best running back in the league behind him, which provides the Vikings with the opportunity to use play action, as they look to stretch the field deep. Given Freeman's past ability and the hindrance he has experienced from a schematic standpoint, it is worth the risk the Vikings are taking.
Freeman had problems within the Buccaneers organization, but I firmly believe within a stable organization and better schematic situation, he could benefit in the Vikings system. Many are questioning his entrance into the league's preliminary drug test program, but the league has indicated this move is strictly due to his prescription for ADHD.
The Christian Ponder era is likely over in Minnesota, which signals the Vikings need to find a suitable replacement for the future. The Vikings have over $7 million tied into four quarterbacks, which means a roster move will need to be made today. I don't believe the Vikings will release Ponder, especially since he would be owed over $3 million if they decide to turn him loose. The only other method would be to place Ponder on injured reserve, which would be sure to cause an uproar in the league and lead to a potential NFLPA grievance. Ponder could be traded or MBT and/or Cassel could be released before today is over. Christian Ponder seems to be done in Minnesota, but he will land with another roster as a backup in this league.
The Vikings will likely make several roster moves in an attempt to clear cap space on the roster. The logical choice would be to release one of the eight linebackers (Larry Dean) the Vikings currently have on the roster. Toby Gerhart's name has been mentioned at the foot of trade talks and he could potentially be a player who hits the market soon. The shuffling is going to occur some time today and could involve several players being traded, released, or placed on reserve lists.
It is certainly a new era in the Vikings quarterback search and I'm not sure how they are looking to handle this, but it will add intrigue to this team going forward.
Like I said two weeks ago, hitch on, it's going to be a bumpy ride, my friends.