Veteran free-agent quarterback Josh Freeman and the New York Giants have agreed to terms on a contract, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports:
Done deal with the Giants and QB Josh Freeman. He's agreed to terms, per source.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 16, 2014
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com is reporting that it's a one-year deal for Freeman:
It’s a one-year deal for the #Giants and QB Josh Freeman, source says. May get increased snaps as Eli recovers from surgery— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 16, 2014
Freeman's agent, Erik Burkhardt, later confirmed the deal on his Twitter account:
Congrats to Josh Freeman on his deal with NY Giants— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) April 16, 2014
The 26-year-old signal-caller has five years of NFL experience under his belt but is coming off the most disappointing season of his career by far. After just three appearances with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, Freeman was released and signed by the Minnesota Vikings shortly after.
He would start one game for the Vikings, completing 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception in an ugly 23-7 loss to the Giants.
Garafolo talked about the team's thought process regarding that game:
Giants were the only team to face Freeman while he was a Viking. He played poorly, so clearly they believe he got a raw deal in Minny.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 16, 2014
At the conclusion of the season, USA Today's Tom Pelissero reported that several Vikings players were critical of Freeman's performance and preparation leading up to the embarrassing loss. The following quote was attributed to an anonymous Vikings player:
You could tell Josh did not know the offense. Practices did not really go that well that week. But Coach Frazier was in the team meetings like, 'Oh, I think this is the best week of practice we've had all year.' And everyone's like, what? What are you talking about?
Despite his recent struggles, there's no denying Freeman's ability to lead an offense. At 6'6", 240 pounds, he has the prototypical size that coaches fall in love with and the arm to make all the necessary throws. Not to mention that his breakout sophomore season with the Buccaneers in 2010 proves he's capable of putting everything together.
Ahead of Freeman's signing, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal included Freeman among his nine biggest wild cards in free agency:
Yes, 2013 was wildly ugly. Freeman's accuracy has always been a problem, and he hasn't cut down on mental errors in his career. But this is still a 26-year-old who has shown he can be successful as a starter. He stands tall against pressure and isn't afraid to make tough throws. Freeman is young enough and has a big enough arm to convince a team that he could upgrade their starting job.
Just imagine if Freeman became a free agent a year ago. He was still seen then as a league-average starter with potential for more. In the right system, he still has a chance.
Freeman has appeared in 61 regular-season games since being selected 17th overall by Tampa Bay in the 2009 NFL draft. However, he has never reached the postseason, coming closest in 2010 when he led the Bucs to a 10-6 record.
Is this a smart signing?
Although it wasn't long ago that many were gushing over Freeman's potential to become a franchise quarterback, the former Kansas State star is running out of time to prove he can make a positive impact in the NFL.
The most important thing for Freeman moving forward is building confidence. He may never return to his 2010 form, but he'll need his new coaching staff to build him up and put him in a position to succeed week after week if he's going to achieve his maximum potential in 2014 and beyond.
Fortunately, he's in a good environment behind an accomplished quarterback in Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin, both of whom can offer Freeman the knowledge and experience that comes from winning Super Bowls.
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