Josh Freeman reportedly had several interested teams lining up for him after being released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.
The free-agent quarterback made his decision late Sunday and the Minnesota Vikings now have a new quarterback. What it says for the previous quarterback is still a mystery.
Freeman’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, tweeted the news Sunday night at the beginning of the late game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, writing “Vikings!!!” on his Twitter page. Freeman’s decision ended a period during which the former first-round pick was reportedly recruited by Minnesota, Oakland and the Buffalo Bills.
A source said the deal with the Vikings is a one year contract worth $3 million. Tampa Bay still owes Freeman after cutting him as well.
The Buccaneers released the 25-year-old Freeman following a contentious end to his tenure with the team that made him the No. 17 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Freeman had reportedly missed meetings and even missed the team picture, while struggling on the field too. Tampa Bay and second-year coach Greg Schiano made the move to rookie quarterback Mike Glennon last week and Freeman was inactive.
After trying to trade him, the Buccaneers released him on Thursday.
Freeman had started the first three games of the season, with Tampa Bay losing all three games while Freeman was 43 of 94 passing (45.7 percent) for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Once believed the long-term starter for the Buccaneers, Freeman struggled with inconsistency the past three seasons, throwing 45 touchdowns to 42 interceptions.
He started nine games in his rookie season in 2009 and then blossomed in his second year, completing 61.4 percent of his passes for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdown to just six interceptions and a career-best 95.9 quarterback rating.
Signing Freeman adds more intrigue to the quarterback situation with Minnesota, which has remained steadfast that Christian Ponder is the team’s No.1 quarterback, despite poor play and backup Matt Cassel sparking the Vikings to their first win of the season last week in London.
Ponder is dealing with a fractured rib, which opened the door for Cassel, but coach Leslie Frazier maintained this week that Ponder is still the team’s starter, depending on his health.
Freeman’s addition at least adds doubt about whether Ponder will remain the starter. Ponder also has been extremely inconsistent during his three-year career after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Ponder was a draft pick of current general manager Rick Spielman and was in a critical third season to prove he deserved to remain Minnesota’s top choice at quarterback.
Ponder has a 75.8 quarterback rating in his career, starting 29 of his 30 games, with a 59.2 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Ponder helped Minnesota to the playoffs last season, with his ball security being the key for a team that leans on MVP running back Adrian Peterson.
Freeman’s career numbers don’t differ much from Ponder. Freeman has a 78.8 career quarterback rating with 58.2 completion percentage. He’s thrown 80 touchdowns to 66 interceptions.