His flaws aside, Christian Ponder played well enough in Sunday’s tie, particularly in the eyes of Leslie Frazier, to earn another start in the Vikings’ next game at home against Chicago. That will be their 12th game of the season. With just four more to go after that, it’s safe to assume the noble Josh Freeman Experiment, whatever it once was, has taken on a much different course.
When Freeman was brought in, we figured it — along with many others — that he eventually would claim the starting role for good as the Vikings evaluated whether he could be a long-term solution. As such, it seemed surprising to imagine Ponder having much of a role. But at this point, it seemingly would be an upset if Freeman plays again.
Agree or disagree with how the QB situation has played out, it’s time to ask this question: When considering smallest return on investment for major Twin Cities athletes, how do we evaluate Freeman?
The Vikings brought him in midseason for a pro-rated $3 million deal. Backup QBs are a necessity in the NFL, but this was a different circumstance. The Vikings already had a backup QB in Matt Cassel. They brought Freeman in as a luxury. He started one game, was abysmal, still was slated to start the next game, then was diagnosed with a concussion. Now he is healthy but on the bench.
Is that gaffe in the same neighborhood as when the Twins signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka for more than $14 million (including posting fee)? Granted, a little over $3 million came back to them when he walked away from the final year of his contract. He played 71 games with the Twins. You can argue whether Freeman or Nishi was worse on the field (not kidding).
We posed the question online Monday, and commenter bondo69 offered this comeback: “The Freeman and Nishioka situations are incomparable. There was very little lost in signing Freeman. He had low opportunity cost. The alternative to signing Nishioka was keeping J.J. Hardy. High opportunity cost.”
True, but we did get almost half a season to find out about Nishioka. We only got one game of Freeman, unless something strange happens down the stretch.