The Minnesota Vikings' signing of quarterback Josh Freeman gives the team more of what they already have—mediocrity. Freeman is another quarterback with a losing record as a starter and a less than stellar passer rating for his career.
No wonder, according to a report on NFL.com, head coach Leslie Frazier indicated that Christian Ponder has a "bright future" and general manager Rick Spielman stated that the signing of Freeman "has no determination on where Ponder is."
The Vikings appear to be looking for the next Randall Cunningham, or the next Brett Favre. The problem is that Freeman comes to Minnesota with nowhere near the credentials that either of those two veterans did when they showed up.
In his fifth NFL season, Freeman can boast as many winning seasons as a starter as Ponder—one. In 2010 he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 10-6 record, the same record that Ponder finished with last season. Unlike Ponder, it did not result in a playoff berth as the Bucs finished third in the NFC South that year.
Perhaps Frazier and Spielman spent too much time looking at film of the last two meetings against the Buccaneers when Freeman dominated the Vikings in two wins. Combined in those two games, Freeman was 41-of-67 passing for 505 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception, and a passer rating of 98.2.
Perhaps it was the dubious mark he set last year against the Vikings. During the matchup last season in Week 8, Freeman threw three touchdowns for the third straight game. It put him in exclusive company in Tampa Bay history.
The only other Tampa Bay quarterback to accomplish that feat is Vinny Testaverde. In six seasons with the Buccaneers, Testaverde finished with a 24-48 record as a starter with 77 touchdowns and 112 interceptions. His passer rating was a pathetic 64.4—not a great name to be linked to.
So what does Freeman have that Cassel and Ponder don't?
The following table compares the career numbers for Freeman to Cassel and Ponder. It's obvious that the Vikings are trying to stockpile mediocrity.
|Category||Josh Freeman||Matt Cassel||Christian Ponder|
|Experience||5th Season||9th Season||3rd Season|
|Weight||240 pounds||230 pounds||229 pounds|
Pro Football Reference
Looking at the above statistics, Freeman is the same age at Ponder, his touchdown percentage is the same as Cassel's and his only advantage is that he is sacked less often than either Cassel or Ponder. There's no indication that Freeman brings anything different than what the Vikings already have.
Don't believe the argument that Adrian Peterson will help to make Freeman a better quarterback. Last season Doug Martin rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Buccaneers, yet Freeman was only 7-9 as the starting quarterback. However, he did have 27 touchdowns last year, the most in his career.
Perhaps there's an opportunity to develop Freeman into a franchise quarterback—not that offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has been very successful in doing that since leaving Atlanta.
The Freeman signing adds to the long list of veterans that have gone through the Vikings' revolving door at quarterback. The biggest exception is that Freeman is much younger than the others.
Pro Football Reference
With Cassel getting the start against the Panthers in Week 6, the most number of starts Freeman might get is 11 games. It would be great if he could led the Vikings to eight wins in his first season like Jim McMahon, Jeff George or Gus Frerotte—but that's unlikely.
With the baggage he brings with him from Tampa Bay—as well as an 0-3 record as a starter this season—Freeman is still not the answer for the Minnesota Vikings. His signing just adds another name to the quarterback controversy—for at least the next 12 games.