Recently released Josh Freeman signs with Minnesota Vikings
News broke Sunday morning that the Vikings were "intrigued" by Freeman, but they were still far from a lock to sign him. Plenty of other teams had taken an interest, and several of them had more glaring needs at the quarterback position.
Freeman's fit in Minnesota will be interesting, as the Vikings already have two somewhat-volatile, semi-viable options at quarterback - Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. Ponder was drafted in 2011 to be the future of the franchise, but he has not quite panned out and is playing terribly this season. Cassel stepped in for an injured Ponder in Week 4 and played well, but he is coming off a horrible 2012 season, and it is tough to trust him as anything more than a short-term fix.
Meanwhile, Freeman is just as much of a wild card as the Vikings' other two quarterbacks. A rocket-armed 25-year-old with solid mobility, Freeman has the tools to succeed in the NFL. He showed us what he is capable of in 2010, his second NFL season, when he posted a 95.9 passer rating while leading his team to a 10-6 record. His play has dropped off since, however, and head coach Greg Schiano never seemed to have much trust in the quarterback he inherited when signing with the Buccaneers last year.
It's not likely that Freeman will get the starting nod in Week 6, as the Vikings claim that Ponder remains their starter, while Cassel is coming off a strong performance. What the Vikings will probably do is allow Freeman to compete in practice, and if the other two signal callers begin to struggle (or continue to, in Ponder's case), they can throw Freeman in and see what he can do.
Other teams that showed a strong interest in Freeman include the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders. The Bills - who just lost starting quarterback E.J. Manuel to a sprained knee - reportedly "intensified their pursuit" of Freeman on Sunday, but obviously ended up missing out on him. Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is a fan of Freeman's and was his coordinator during Freeman's best years as a pro. It is not known whether the Raiders made a serious effort to sign Freeman, who would have backed up Terrelle Pryor.
The fact that Freeman chose to sign with the Vikings when a supposed minimum of ten teams had contacted him suggests that Freeman believes he has a strong chance at winning the starting job in Minnesota. It is certainly a realistic scenario with the team growing frustrated with their inconsistent play behind center. If Freeman does end up starting, I have a hard time imagining it happening before Week 7. However, whoever starts the Vikings' Week 6 matchup with the Carolina Panthers very well may be on a short leash.
If the Vikings - who now sit in last place in the NFC North with a 1-3 record - continue their losing ways thanks in large part to poor quarterback play, we could very well see Freeman starting for his new team by the end of the month.