Freeman adds to Vikings' cluster of QB candidates

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 8, 2013 - 8:33 AM

Josh Freeman joined the Vikings’ QB mix, which relaunched questions about Christian Ponder’s future.

Josh Freeman said he wasn’t promised anything from the Vikings, but with his career at a crossroads, the free-agent quarterback chose what he described as an ideal landing spot.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to follow your heart,” Freeman said after arriving at Winter Park for the first time. “I felt really comfortable. A great gut feeling. I’m definitely fired up.”

Freeman signed his one-year contract and planned to delve into the Vikings playbook Monday night as he adjusts to a new team and new beginning in a once-promising career that careened severely off course the past month.

Freeman picked the Vikings after drawing interest from 10 teams. And though he downplayed the prospect of becoming a starter again, Freeman admitted he found the team’s talent on offense appealing.

“I don’t think there’s a quarterback in the game of football that doesn’t think they would be a good fit for this offense,” he said. “This is a very talented offense.”

It’s unclear when Freeman will get his chance to run that offense as the Vikings sort through a muddled situation at quarterback. Coach Leslie Frazier said either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel will start Sunday’s game against Carolina as Freeman gets acclimated to his new system.

Ponder is still recovering from a fractured rib, which means Cassel likely will start for a second consecutive game. After that, who knows? But General Manager Rick Spielman acknowledged that “we are going to get Josh Freeman ready to play.”

Freeman’s signing creates a logjam at that position and fuels the perception that Ponder’s tenure is near its end. Both Frazier and Spielman denied that Freeman’s arrival means the team no longer believes Ponder is a long-term option. But it’s impossible not to draw that conclusion based on the organization’s aggressiveness in pursuing a talented quarterback who is only 25 years old but has started 59 NFL games.

“This has no determination of where Christian Ponder is,” Spielman said. “It was just another opportunity to go out and add another football player that we have high regard for.”

Asked if Ponder will remain on the roster moving forward, Spielman said, “As of right now, we don’t intend to make any other moves with our quarterbacks.”

Freeman became available after a messy and public divorce from the Bucs that was fueled by an untenable working relationship with coach Greg Schiano. Freeman reportedly missed a team photo, lost his captaincy in a vote of teammates and incurred more than $30,000 in fines by the Bucs this season for various infractions.

Freeman fought back after someone leaked to the media that he is a stage one participant in the NFL’s drug program. Freeman released a statement acknowledging that he has an exemption for Adderall to treat ADHD but that he made a mistake and switched to Ritalin, which caused a positive test. Freeman said he’s passed 46 drug tests since voluntarily entering the program.

Schiano initially benched Freeman and then released him late last week.

“Obviously, he didn’t feel that I was the guy he wanted leading his team, the caliber quarterback he wanted behind center,” Freeman said.

Frazier said the team did some “digging” on Freeman’s issues with the Bucs before deciding to sign him. Frazier said he believes Freeman’s problems with Schiano were isolated and not a pattern that should raise red flags.

“You hear so many things [that] you have to find out what’s true and what’s not,” Frazier said.

Spielman studied Freeman and spent time with him during the draft process in 2009 and said he has no concerns about Freeman’s character.

The Vikings are hoping a clean slate will help Freeman re-establish himself. He passed for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. In 2010, he threw 25 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.

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Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston 2 Top 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 3
Kansas City 4 Top 9th Inning
Houston 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland 0 Top 4th Inning
LA Angels 1
Colorado 1 Top 4th Inning
San Diego 1
Los Angeles 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Francisco 0
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 24 1st Qtr 3:15
Denver 17
LA Clippers 18 1st Qtr 3:41
Portland 26
Phoenix 21 2nd Qtr 11:41
Sacramento 24
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Tampa Bay 4
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Anaheim 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

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