With it being a bye week for the Vikings the signing of Josh Freeman is about all there is to talk about. To be honest, though, even if it wasn’t a bye week this is about all we would want to talk about anyways. Here are ten random things (facts, thoughts, opinions, etc.) about the signing:
1. Franchise Tag A Possibility
The Vikings surely hope Freeman comes in and throws for a gazillion yards and six dozen touchdowns and saves their season en route to the Super Bowl… or something like that. If Freeman does light it up once he hits the field, they will not have to immediately worry about losing Freeman to free agency, despite his one year contract. According to PFT, Freeman’s contract contains no clause preventing the Vikings from using the “franchise” tag following this season. If the organization decides Freeman is their guy then he will be hear to stay, but that tag will not be cheap if it comes to that.
2. Yes, I Like The Move
For those asking, I absolutely love this move. I see no downside. If Freeman busts, all that is lost is $2 million of Zygi Wilf’s money, at this point. Freeman has a stronger arm than Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. He has more success on his resume than Ponder does, and comes to town with more experience at the same age (25). Freeman’s ability to throw the deep ball has to be respected which can only help Adrian Peterson. I just don’t see why some fans remain opposed to this move, which could possibly define a new era of Vikings football for the better.
3. Eye On The Cap
The Vikings will reportedly have less than $1 million in cap space remaining after signing Freeman. He signed a one year deal worth $2.83 million, but the prorated amount for 12 games remaining sees him making $2 million from the Vikings. Unless the Vikings are quick to somehow shed some cap space soon then they are unlikely to sign any other big names this year, or make any lucrative extension offers to their own player.
4. Corresponding Move To Come
Rick Spielman said the Vikings would wait until Tuesday to announce the corresponding roster move they will make to get their roster down to the allowable limit. Many are assuming McLeod Bethel-Thompson, currently number three on the quarterback depth chart, will be cut to make room for Freeman. I’m not so sure that MBT isn’t the guy that makes the most sense to keep around, and I’m also not convinced that a curveball isn’t thrown tomorrow, such as a trade of a quarterback to one of the other nine teams that reportedly contacted Freeman this week. With any luck, the Vikings could add Freeman and another draft pick or two within the same week.
5. Ponder Is Likely Done
I’ve stated before that Ponder’s inability to stay healthy throughout his NFL career was an underrated reason while he could fail during his “make or break” 2013 season. Here we are, in week five of the season, and an injury has opened the door for his veteran backup to outshine him and for the front office to pounce on another available talent. Despite what Spielman and Leslie Frazier spouted on Monday night, I just don’t see how this team goes back to Christian Ponder… ever. I think there would have to be some catastrophic events in this team’s future for us to consider Ponder the future of the franchise any longer.
6. Freeman Won’t Start This Week
Either Ponder or Cassel will get a chance to make the Vikings think twice about naming Freeman the new starter this season. According to Monday night’s presser, the Vikings will not rush Freeman into action, and he will not play against Carolina on Sunday. Ponder was expected to miss significant time with his rib injury, perhaps even a few more weeks, so I would bet it is Cassel under center this Sunday.
7. They Just Aren’t There
Those that don’t like this signing because they would rather Spielman sign a new middle linebacker or defensive back make a ton of sense: except they don’t. Freeman represents a 25 year old that has shown game-changing ability that was available for a very minimal investment. What free agent is out there at any other position that represents the value Freeman does? Not only is there not a starting middle linebacker available, there is arguably not a starting anything available, so the argument just doesn’t hold water.
8. Character Counts
Absolutely. I agree 110%. Character matters in the NFL, especially for a player at a leadership position like quarterback. Freeman comes with some red flags and those are indeed a concern. Still, pouring over the hundreds of articles I could find on the matter, I found very little that leads me to believe Tampa head coach Greg Schiano isn’t the common denominator in all of this drama, as all of Freeman’s teammates and media accounts seem to portray him as a hard-working and well-respected professional. If Freeman did need some sort of wake up call, then maybe Schiano did the dirty work for us, and Freeman is coming to Minnesota having already learned the lessons he needed to. The old “change of scenery” theory could easily be at play here.
9. Nothing Preventing Another Drafted QB
The signing of Freeman does nothing to prevent the Vikings from selecting another rookie quarterback in 2014. If they resign him to a large contract then, sure, they probably won’t invest a first round pick into the position, but if they resign Freeman to big money they also don’t need a first round quarterback. Still, don’t think this mid-season signing somehow prevents them from looking at the strong 2014 quarterback class for help.
10. 2013 Suddenly Relevant Again
The 2013 season is on the brink of being lost, and it very well could be lost before Freeman even takes the field, but regardless of Minnesota’s win-loss record reach week will have relevance through the end of the season. Evaluating Freeman’s ability to be a franchise quarterback provides a reason to watch closely no matter the circumstances.