The 1-3 Minnesota Vikings are desperate, and they showed it on Sunday when they signed recently-released quarterback Josh Freeman to a one-year deal.
While the signing seems to make sense for a team lacking a legitimate No. 1 quarterback, the addition of Freeman is far from a solve-all. Not only does the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter bring some potential character problems to the locker room, but he’s far from a proven passer.
So far this season, Freeman has completed 45.7 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions while earning a 59.3 passer rating. Albeit for a team that he hated being on, Freeman looked like a player who had already called it quits, and that mentality isn’t going to just disappear with a new team.
Freeman immediately taking over as the starter will also show the locker room that the Vikings have already given up on this season. Instead of hoping that the coaching staff could kick this talented roster into gear, the Minnesota brass brought in another team’s sloppy seconds to see what type of value he holds for the future.
Meanwhile, what happens with Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel?
Ponder, who’s currently out with a rib injury, was drafted back in 2011 to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future. He has been a major disappointment up to this point, but still has yet to give Minnesota enough reason to throw in the towel. With Freeman now in the mix, it’s safe to assume the Vikings have given up on their former first-round pick.
As for Cassel, his attempt to steal the starting job just hit a brick wall. He led the Vikings to their first win of the season, and was expected to be given every opportunity to supplant Ponder as the starter. The Freeman signing, however, basically means that he’s headed back to the bench as soon as the newcomer knows the playbook.
More than likely, one of the two will get cut. Minnesota’s roster simply isn’t big enough for three borderline No. 1 quarterbacks.
As the Vikings will soon see, though, Freeman isn’t the answer to their problems.
Minnesota offense needs a quarterback who can handle pressure and keep the ball out of the defense’s hands. Freeman is terrible under pressure, and threw more interceptions than any other quarterback when under pressure throughout the 2012 campaign. The Vikings’ inconsistent offensive line is going to bring out that side in Freeman.
Some may mention his big arm as a reason why Freeman makes sense for the Vikings, but his poor accuracy will nullify his strong deep ball. During 2012, only 37.1 percent of his deep passes were on target. While that percentage is certainly better than Ponder’s, it’s still one of the worst in the NFL.
If it wasn’t for his one outstanding season in 2010, Freeman would have taken the Ponder route and landed in the “mediocre quarterback” category.
Ponder might not be the answer, but neither is Freeman. The Vikings would have been better off waiting to find their new quarterback during the 2014 NFL Draft, but instead let desperation led them to handing Freeman a $3 million prove-it deal. They’ll soon find out why the Buccaneers were so willing to let him go and why no team was willing to trade for him.
If the Vikings thought they were hitting a homerun by signing Freeman, they should think again.