The Vikings revealed a new starting quarterback on Wednesday, their most recent starter was demoted to third team and their original starter indicated he might welcome a trade.
Got all that straight?
Coach Leslie Frazier announced that newcomer Josh Freeman will start Monday night against the New York Giants after signing with the team on Oct. 6.
Christian Ponder will serve as his backup while Matt Cassel — the starter the previous two games, including Sunday’s 35-10 loss to Carolina — was downgraded to No. 3 quarterback.
This will be the 10th time in franchise history that the Vikings have started three quarterbacks at least one game in a season and the third time since 2007.
The decision to move Freeman into that role seemed inevitable after the Vikings signed him a few days after his messy divorce from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became official. Freeman has engrossed himself in the playbook since arriving in the Twin Cities in order to gain enough working knowledge to feel comfortable operating the offense.
The coaching staff has condensed the playbook to speed up the process. Asked if he’s confident he will be adequately prepared to play, Freeman replied, “No question.”
“I have a pretty good grasp of the offense,” he said. “I’ve got three years of college and kind of a mixture the first few years in the NFL with this exact offense, so it’s coming along pretty quickly. At the end of the day, football is football.”
The Vikings want to evaluate Freeman, who signed a one-year contract, the rest of the season to determine if he is a possible long-term option. The organization had hoped Ponder would fill that gaping hole by drafting him No. 12 overall in 2011. But Ponder’s struggles continued into this season, he lost his job after suffering a fractured rib and he acknowledged Wednesday that his future might be elsewhere.
“You let everything run its course and you try and figure out what’s the best situation for yourself and for your family and see what’s going to happen going forward,” he said.
A week ago, Ponder said a trade would be “difficult to deal with.” On Wednesday, he offered a different answer to the same question.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I have to figure out what’s best for me and for this team. I don’t know if that’s staying here or going somewhere else.”
Ponder said he is not sure if he has a chance to win his starting job back.
“I don’t know what’s going on, what the decisions are,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out what’s best for this team. I don’t really know.”
It’s unclear what, if any, trade value Ponder would have at this point, but Frazier said that’s not in his plans right now.
“That’s never crossed my mind that Christian wouldn’t be on our roster, and it’s not crossing my mind now,” he said. “I don’t see any scenario where he would not be on our roster.”