By Joseph Gunther
Late Sunday night/early Monday morning, the Minnesota Vikings signed quarterback Josh Freeman to a one-year contract worth $2 million.
The 25-year-old fifth-year veteran threw for 571 yards and two touchdowns in three games this season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also has thrown three interceptions (one in each game) and has been sacked seven times.
Prior to this season, the 2009 first round draft pick from Kansas State completed at least 50 percent of his passes, topped 3,400 passing yards and posted at least a 74.6 rating or better in each of the last season seasons – his three full seasons as a starter.
“We’re hoping that he’s another good football player that our personnel guys, along with myself, felt like could help our team,” head coach Leslie Frazier said in his weekly press conference on Monday. “That was the primary reason. We’re always trying to find guys who you think can help your team win and we think he’s one of those guys.”
Freeman’s character came into question over the last few weeks. He butted heads with Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and was eventually benched after three games this season. The two sides created problems for each other since the benching with off-field maturity and leadership issues.
“What happened down in Tampa is none of my business at all,” Rick Spielman said in a conference on Monday.
The Buccaneers released Freeman on Thursday. He had numerous suitors and wanted to make a decision quickly.
“Right when I heard I got cut, it was kind of, ‘I want to get back in there right away,’” Freeman said. “In all honesty, from the standpoint of a career move, something that I really liked about the Vikings is they’ve got a guy. They’ve got a situation where I can come in and learn the system.
“If they call for me and need me to play, that’s one thing. But it’s an opportunity to kind of pump the brakes. It’s been pretty crazy the past few weeks and just really get back to the reason we’re all here and that’s playing football.”
The Vikings still need to create room on the 53-man roster. The likely move is to remove a quarterback. The obvious move is to release the third-string guy, McLeod Bethel-Thompson. However, can Freeman, Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder co-exist in the meeting room and the practice field?
Frazier said he talked to Cassel and Ponder about Freeman’s signing and he believes they’re all “on the same page and how it affects them and how it can affect our team.”
The writing is on the wall for Ponder. He can be placed on injured reserve because of the broken ribs or released, but the third-year quarterback keeps the diplomatic approach toward his future with the Vikings.
“In my eyes, I’m getting prepared to play,” Ponder said after practice on Monday. “As long as I play well, then I’m the one on the field.”
The only thing we know for sure about the Vikings quarterback situation is that Freeman will not play on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers as he learns Bill Musgrave’s offense.
For more Vikings news and updates, visit Vikings Central.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. Joseph is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.