Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Oct 2013

Josh Freeman Signs with Vikings

Josh Freeman will be signing with the Vikings according to many reports. While I know many folks who are skeptical of Freeman's future, I think a lot of people have been hopeful he'd land in Minnesota. Based on what little has been reported about the Buccaneers, it's hard not to think that Tampa Bay is a poorly run organization from the top-down.

I spoke with a young player who had stints with multiple teams over a four-year period and one of them was Tampa during the Rahim Morris regime. The stark contrast between at least two of these organizations and the Buccaneers was startling. This player, who I've talked to enough times to know that he's a worker, told me that he was somewhat relieved when he joined another team.

It's just a one-year deal, but I think Freeman earns a chance to reboot his image, re-sign with the Vikings, and become the team's starter -- on a team with enough talent and support for Freeman to make more of his own talent than before.

Posted by: Matt Waldman on 06 Oct 2013

47 comments, Last at 08 Oct 2013, 9:09pm by Will Allen


by MilkmanDanimal :: Sun, 10/06/2013 - 11:51pm

Incredibly logical place for him to go. I live in the area, and look forward to having to answer about five thousand "how's Josh Freeman going to be" questions over the next couple days.

by Moridin :: Sun, 10/06/2013 - 11:57pm

Wonder how fast the Vikes can be done with the Ponderous era and on to the Freeman era... though to be honest, it's not as if the Vikes have shown any talent at QB coaching. Hopefully, they can show us that its always been a talent/scouting issue with their QB results, rather than a total failure to QB coach.

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 12:26am

Interesting opportunity for the Vikings. Usually, missing on a 1st round QB pick screws you up for a decent amount of time, both because of the commitment that you've made and because young 1st round QBs almost never become available as free agents.

Here, because of the weird circumstances around Freeman, they get a chance to plug in a young QB with good pedigree on the fly and see if he can turn into a franchise player. Freeman of course is not perfect, but let's say there's...what, a 25% chance he turns into a quality starter for them? Not bad for the Vikings-- a 1 in 4 chance they get to erase their Ponder mistake for almost no cost.

by Gorilla Graham (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 12:33am

It seems like this says as much about the Vikes' interest in Cassell as it does Ponder. I wonder if Cassell gets the yank, which would be odd since it seemed like he played fairly well in his last start ( I know that he's not all that good, but Freeman hasn't been all that good for awhile, either ).

by RickD :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:30am

Wouldn't Freeman have to learn the playbook before getting any snaps in a game, much less a start?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:37am

Both Freeman and Cassel have done something that Ponder never has, which is have a decent season as a starting qb. Cassel will start, I've got to believe, until Freeman can call the plays, assuming the Vikings don't go on an extended wining streak, which is a pretty safe assumption.

Hopefully, The Ponderous One was only renting a home in Minnesota. Then again, real estate agents gotta eat too, I guess.

Kudos to Rick Spielman for keeping his mouth shut until it was time to slit throats. It would have been better to not draft a guy, in the top half of the 1st round, who had never shown any talent above the norm, other than running decently fast when he couldn't identify where to throw the ball, but, hey, better much too late than never.

by Duke :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:50am

That whole draft had a running thread of crazy through it. That was the lockout draft, remember. There was a large contingent of people saying that teams were drafting QBs solely because they wanted to make sure they had a QB for the next year, since they couldn't sign one in free agency.

For that purpose, you blow a first round pick and set your franchise back for years. What idiots.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 7:52am

The funny thing is, that draft had a ton of impact players on defense, and may be remembered as one of the best defensive drafts in recent memory.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 7:55am

As a fan of an NFC North rival, I have to say I'm relieved that the Vikings threw away three games before making this move, because if Freeman can learn the playbook and recapture any of his form from 2010 or the first 11 games of 2012, Minnesota can win a lot of the games they would have otherwise lost with Mr. Steele.

by Anger...rising :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:25pm

The idea that Ponder had never shown any talent is either ignorant, revisionist or both.

He was the top quarterback draft prospect entering the 2010 season. In fact, the only reason he wasn't already in the NFL was a late-season shoulder separation that ended his great 2009. The questions about him were health -- the shoulder separation and a misdiagnosed elbow injury that plagued him in 2010 -- and deep arm strength. He was a good decision-maker, very mobile, and could make all the short-to-intermediate throws.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 2:42pm

Saying someone is a "good decision maker" after all of 33 starts in college, to say nothing of the 22 he had through 2009, is just unwise. A contrast with Russell Wilson is illustrative; one could be a lot more confident in Wilson's decision making before the draft, simply because had started almost 50 games in college.

Ponder has never, at least since 2010, shown anything but a mediocre arm by NFL qb standards. His performance actually slid in his last year in college, which is never a good sign, no matter what one says about the quality of his medical care. The only thing that could be said for certain about him being above average is running fast, and that just doesn't translate into a qb pick in the top half of the first round.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 3:15pm

The 2011 draft is really interesting in retrospect, just 2 years later. I would love to read why professional scouts thought Ponder and Gabbert were superior prospects to Andy Dalton.

Kaepernick I can understand, because he's such a non-traditional prospect.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 5:54pm

I remember at the time thinking that every single QB taken in the first round was an absurd reach - that Newton had enough upside to merit a first rounder but was far too risky to take first overall (an attitude that looking back was mistaken, not because he's worked out, but because the change in rookie contracts makes taking that risk at #1 justifiable), that Dalton, Ponder, Gabbert and (in his very different way) Kaepernick would all have been perfectly reasonable selections in the second round, and that Locker oughtn't to have gone before day 3.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:25am

This is obviously part of the vast conspiracy to ensure that Joe Webb never again becomes a starting quarterback in the NFL.

by Jerry :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:35am

I never thought Joe Webb would become a meme here.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:39am

All it takes is one obsessed fan!

by andrew :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 11:12am

"ask the French general if his glasses can reach to the Hudson," said Munro, proudly; "and if he knows when and where to expect the Army of Webb."

"I was corrupt before I had power!" - Random

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 7:24pm

I always thought Webb could succeed in an offense designed for him, something like the 2012 Redskins playbook. Insisting he play whatever offense the head coach already knows is just stupid.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 9:09pm

Joe Webb can't throw the ball accurately enough to a successful NFL qb. There's a reason nearly every team who looked at him coming out of college wanted to switch him to receiver, even before we get to other elements of quarterbacking..

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:33am

I think after sunday night's game, freeman would've been a good pickup for the texans

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 1:42am

I was really hoping that the Vikings had secured Freeman's signature prior to Schaub throwing his 2nd pick.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 6:11am

Yes. Ah well. Who was it suggesting a whacky Roethlisberger trade?

Actually, you know what, no. On-field it might make sense, but I don't want that man on my team even if he does make it better.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 7:24pm

I hate his off-the-field history, but every team in NFL history has had to compromise their morals at least a bit to win. The Browns needed Jim Brown to win their last title.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:46pm

What did Jim Brown do? Other than his outspoken opinions regarding civil rights, I don't remember any controversy with him. And he was hardly the only player who talked about it. I also wouldn't say the Browns compromised their morals by that. There were several players and teams that were very supportive of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:29pm

He has been charged several times with assaulting women, with the charges eventually dropped when the women ultimately declined to testify.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 10:36pm

Exactly. I'm all in favor of him supporting civil rights.

Being a "bruiser" in the same way OJ was a "slasher," not so much.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 4:34am

I don't disagree - the question is how much. I think it's likely that Roethlisberger is a rapist. I don't know exactly where my line is, but that is definitely past it.

by SFC B :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:35am

I think the Vikings execs were ensuring the paperwork was sent to the league right about the time the pick-6 was at the 10 yard line.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 4:41am

Tampa drops to about 60-70 degrees around this time of year, and down to 50-60 by December/January. That's spring in Minneapolis. Instead of playing out the string of a meaningless season in at least tolerable warmth, Freeman is going to be playing out the string of a meaningless season wondering how the hell its possible to get this cold.

Still, its a good signing all round. He's potentially a big upgrade on what they have, it lets the front office look like they aren't just burying their head in the sand (metaphor Josh, its snow) and assuming their current QBs are fine, and its a pretty good opportunity for Freeman to come in and start quickly - how difficult can it be to learn an offense based around giving it to another dude and getting out of the way?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:19am

He played at Kansas State. It gets cold in Manhattan, KS, too.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 6:47pm

He grew up in KC, which is pretty bleak in February too.

More to the point, several QBs who grew up in warm climates have done well in the snow belt. Favre grew up about 10 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Rodgers is from California's Central Valley (albeit the far north end). Tom Brady is from just south of San Francisco. Joe Ferguson grew up in Louisiana. Even further back in time, Bart Starr was from Alabama and Bobby Layne from Texas. I don't think it will be that big an issue. Or maybe that's why he wanted a one-year deal.

by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:30am

Good luck to him. From afar it sure seemed like the Tampa Bay situation was not conducive to a guy having consistent success.

by jdawga (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:21am

I don't get the Vikings giving Freeman $3 million this year in a one year deal. He's not going to turn the team around and get them to the playoffs this season, not coming in a quarter of the way through and not knowing the playbook. He'd be more helpful next year, but he'll be a FA then. Why not give him a 2 year deal for less annual money?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:25am

Probably because Freeman gets another 4 million from Tampa come February, and he wants to be a free agent after the season is over.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 10:53am

reports are the Vikings wanted a 2 year deal - Freeman didn't.

It makes sense to me. They have the right to Franchise him - not that you can envision paying him 15 million for 1 year. But if he comes in a plays like he did a couple of years ago and you want to sign him - you have some leverage if you want to use it.

If he sucks. You're drafting a QB in the 2014 draft.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:24am

The only question now is what kind of puns Will Allen can make about Freeman.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 9:26am

If he plays like The Ponderous One, I'll think of something.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 12:56pm

Good mlve for Vikings. Freeman has more ability than Ponder and Cassel. Kust have to start getting decent coaching now. Horrible coaches in Tampa Bay he had.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:27pm

"Horrible coaches in Tampa Bay he had."

I shall henceforth refer to you as 'Raiderjoda'.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 2:53pm

Interesting comments from the unnamed player because despite the problems during the Raheem Morris era that's when Freeman played well. It was just under Schiano that he completely fell apart. Clearly, they're a terribly run franchise, but it was only under Morris that Freeman looked like an NFL QB. I can't help but wonder if part of the problem was the desire to do absolutely everything differently than Morris just to show the world how horrible he was.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 12:17pm

Freeman was also pretty phenomenal for a stretch last year; during a six-game span, he had 16 TDs and 3 INTs. Things went off the wheels at season's end with a pair of four-pick games, but even mid-season last year the guy was looking to be an excellent QB. Whether it was lack of good QB coaching or pure, unadulterated hatred between him and Schiano was the cause of the decline, he was really great in the middle of the year last year.

So, he was recently capable of playing well, it's just things went very wrong very quickly.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 5:24pm

In other QB news...Where will Flynn end up, if anywhere? Tampa...Jets?

by jds :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 6:29pm

Greeter at WallMart. (but you could be right, maybe in Tampa).

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 10/07/2013 - 7:16pm

I've seen Browns fans argue he is better than Weeden (no...) and therefore worth consideration (maybe as a backup as I do think he's better than Campbell.)

Maybe a few hours east on Lake Erie (I'm not convinced he could beat out Thad Lewis, though.)

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 12:44pm

Jets dong need Flynn. Byccs do not need either.

Nobody needs Flynn now. Some tema will sign guy next year just to have on roster for insurance but will not gett shot to start anywhere for quite some tkme

by foxlies (not verified) :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 9:07am

I like Freeman;Schiano fighting a war to 'change the culture' is sick; talent wise a super bowl level team;worst coaching since....maybe Joe Walton w/ jets;There should be a matt millen award for incompetent leadership;drafting Glennon[whos 2 years away if he makes it ] then not nominating Freeman for captain;then publicizing his errors;if u don't want him ,don't sabotage his value;build it + trade him;On another front i think Cassell is very underrated ;a decent #1 qb or very good#2 poor guy can't get a break.nflalternative.com

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/08/2013 - 12:53pm

Mike Tainer gave his take of Freeman, and it's a pessimistic outlook.