Josh Freeman signs with Minnesota Vikings
Josh Freeman’s brief foray into free agency ended late Sunday night, when the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback opted to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Freeman’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, confirmed the news by tweeting simply, “Vikings!!!”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Freeman’s deal with the Vikings is worth $3 million — not bad considering that the Buccaneers still owe the recently released Freeman more than $6 million on his old contract.
Freeman’s presence in Minnesota further complicates a quarterback situation that already includes Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. Ponder started the year as the Vikings’ No. 1 QB, before an injury forced him to give way to Cassel for the team’s Week 4 game in London. Cassel staked his claim to the job by throwing for 248 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Pittsburgh.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said last week that Ponder is still the team’s starting quarterback, but also that Ponder is “still injured”; one report out of Minnesota speculated that Ponder would miss three to four games with a rib ailment.
So Cassel was the frontrunner to start Minnesota’s Week 6 game vs. Carolina. He may still be the guy, even with Freeman now in tow. Frazier’s decision may depend on how quickly Freeman can get up to speed in Minnesota after falling out of favor in Tampa Bay.
The 25-year-old QB was the Buccaneers’ first-round draft pick in 2009 and started 56 games between the ensuing season and ’12. However, the current regime, led by head coach Greg Schiano, selected N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon in the 2013 draft, a sign that Freeman might have been running out of time in Tampa Bay.
That belief came to fruition thanks to an ugly set of circumstances. First, Freeman was benched for Glennon and then made inactive for the Buccaneers’ Week 4 game. A series of negative reports then came to light about Freeman, including that the QB had missed meetings and was a Stage One participant in the NFL’s drug-testing program.
The Buccaneers finally released Freeman on Thursday.
Several teams were believed to be interested in Freeman’s services after spurning Tampa Bay’s attempts to trade him. In addition to the Vikings, the QB-starved Bills and Browns were mentioned as possible landing spots. So too were Green Bay and San Francisco, teams that could use an upgrade at the backup quarterback position.
In the end, Freeman opted for Minnesota, where he could wind up the starter sooner rather than later (and possibly where he received the most lucrative offer). Given how his time in Tampa Bay ended, Freeman’s probably satisfied enough just to have another opportunity.