Detroit Lions Would Benefit by Signing Free Agent Josh Freeman as a Backup Quarterback

By Zach Libby
Josh Freeman
Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone deserves a second chance, but in quarterback Josh Freeman‘s case, he deserves a third chance with another team next season. Freeman is coming off of a disappointing 2013 campaign, where he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was seen standing the sidelines at the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings shortly after.

Former head coach of the Vikings, Leslie Frazier felt that Freeman could propel the team to a playoff run, but ended up third on the depth chart behind Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. His one and only chance to prove himself worthy came during a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants where he threw for an abysmal 20-for-53 completion rate (37.7 percent), 190 yards through the air and no touchdowns.

Finishing the rest of the season as a reserve doesn’t give the Vikings much incentive to re-sign Freeman. There are possible destinations for Freeman to end up this offseason to prove that he can still play professional football at a high level, either as a starter or backup. One franchise that could use Freeman’s talent is the Detroit Lions, who are in need of a backup quarterback.

Shaun Hill, now 34 years old, has been with the Lions since 2010 and has little playing time as a starter since being traded. Following Matthew Stafford‘s injury that year, Hill played in 11 games and propelled the team to a 6-10 record. If Hill wants to compete for the starting job in Detroit, it’s highly unlikely as head coach Jim Caldwell is putting his trust on Stafford next season.

Third string quarterback Kellen Moore has yet to see the field during he regular season after signing with the Lions as an undrafted free agent. Despite his experience in the preseason and improving his game during practice, Moore can’t be thrown in if Stafford goes down because of various reasons. It’s important to have a backup who already has starting experience and can step up and come out on top for their franchise if the starter is out.

Caldwell has on hand experience in terms of not having a backup quarterback that’s ready to lead the first team offense at any given moment. During his coaching tenure with the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Peyton Manning didn’t play the entire 2011 season because of a neck injury. Caldwell had to go with Kerry CollinsDan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter. Due to the embarrassing performances by the three players, the team finished with a 2-14 record and lead to Caldwell’s firing by the Colts.

To prevent the disaster that occurred in Indianapolis, Caldwell and general manger Martin Mayhew must sign Freeman because of his flashes of greatness and experience in the league. He is 26 years old right now and has played in the NFL for five years already, which means Freeman is still young and has yet to hit his prime. In his career, Freeman has thrown for 13,724 yards and 80 touchdowns with a 77.6 quarterback rating. His best season was in 2010 where he was a Pro Bowl alternate. He finished that year with 3,451 passing yards and 25 touchdowns and barely missed the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

Signing with the Lions will help Freeman regain his composure and try to rebuild a career that is heading down the wrong path. Freeman would also be working with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, who previously coached Drew Bress with the New Orleans Saints. Adding Freeman to the roster will also give the Lions breathing room in case Stafford goes down to injury, where they can put in a former starting quarterback that knows what it takes to win.

Zach Libby is a Detroit Lions writer for Follow him on Twitter @Zach__Libby, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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