Where and Why Freeman Fits with the Vikings

Posted Oct 8, 2013

It was already going to be an exciting week, with the Vikings coming off their bye week and getting ready to host the Carolina Panthers this weekend. But then on Sunday word emerged that the Vikings and Josh Freeman may unite. On Monday the speculation came to fruition, and Freeman indeed became a Viking.

Now that it’s official and we’ve had a night to sleep on it, here are a few of my thoughts…

Talent and competition
I’m never against adding more talent and competition to the roster, and that’s exactly what the Vikings have done by signing Freeman. There’s no question Freeman is a talented quarterback who can compete for playing time on the Vikings depth chart. Has he been a perfect quarterback? No, that’s why he was a free agent. But he’s been a productive quarterback, with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2010 and a 4,000-yard passing season a year ago to prove it. Freeman is a big quarterback with a big arm, and now he may even have a big chip on his shoulder. I’m happy to have that kind of talent on the roster.

Spielman pounces on unique opportunity
Trading for Jared Allen. Signing Brett Favre. Trading to get back into the 1st-round in consecutive years (2012, 2013). Vikings GM Rick Spielman has proven time and again that he’s unafraid to pursue unique opportunities if he feels the risk associated with doing so is calculated enough. Signing Freeman represents yet another time when the Vikings took advantage of a unique opportunity to add a player to their 53-man roster who may end up making a profound impact, as soon as this season. Again, this is not a coronation of Freeman as the Vikings quarterback savior or even starter. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has already said Freeman will not start this Sunday and he’s also explained that Christian Ponder is the starter when healthy. But now that Freeman is on a roster, he has a chance to compete for playing time. Freeman was a 1st-round pick back in 2009 and he entered the NFL with high expectations. Just four years later after a Pro Bowl season and accumulating 80 touchdown passes, he became available. The Vikings analyzed the situation, assessed it to be unique, assessed it to contain enough upside to pursue, and pounced.

The one that didn’t get away, after all
Going back to the pre-draft process in 2009, the Vikings showed great interest in Freeman. He seemed to be a sure-fire 1st-rounder at the time and the Vikings held the 22nd overall pick. They invited Freeman to their annual Top 30 dinner, they spent time with him on campus at Kansas State, and many prognosticators pointed to Freeman and the Vikings as a potential match should Freeman have fallen that far. Freeman didn’t fall that far and instead went to Tampa Bay at #17 overall. The Vikings wound up taking Percy Harvin five selections later, a series of events that worked out quite well in the end. But now the Vikings get to take a look at Freeman, too, and it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Doesn’t spell the end
The signing of Freeman doesn’t spell the end of the road for either Cassel or Ponder as members of the Vikings. Spielman and Frazier preach constantly that nothing is promised to anybody, even high-priced free agents, early draft picks or flavors of the month. Also, both Spielman and Frazier have used “bright future” to describe Ponder’s status with the Vikings. And we know Cassel has already proven his value to the team by stepping in for Ponder two weeks in London and leading the Vikings to victory over the Steelers. Signing Freeman doesn’t mean the end for either Cassel or Ponder, it just marks the continuation of competition for them and the beginning of a new journey for Freeman.