Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Freeman worth pursuing in weak QB market

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: March 6, 2014 - 7:23 AM

In a quarterback-driven league, elite quarterbacks generally aren't sitting on the curb with their thumbs out when free agency rolls around in March.

Sure, there are exceptions. Like when Drew Brees blows out his throwing shoulder in San Diego, makes a pit stop under Dr. James Andrews' magic scalpel and ends up better than ever in New Orleans. But this year is a typical free-agent market for quarterbacks, which means don't get too excited, folks.

Here are the top four QBs available:

1, Michael Vick: He'll be 34 in June. He's survived to play 16 games only once in his career. And he's still unpolished in the pocket. Verdict: Pass (Unless you need a backup or you're the Raiders).

2, Josh Freeman: He's 26. He's made a Pro Bowl. He's athletic. And he has a big-time arm. But should the Vikings try to go down that path again? In short, what do they have to lose, assuming, of course, the price is reasonable? Christian Ponder is the only quarterback on the roster and there are no guarantees of landing a worthy quarterback in the draft. Remember the general perception when Freeman was signed by the Vikings last October? Remember thinking, `Wow, he's got the perfect arm to push the ball down the field, which would complement an offense built around Adrian Peterson'? Should we really scrap all that because of one stinker performance? Granted, that Oct. 22 Monday Nighter in New York was the mother of all fiascos. But the guy was thrown into the game after four meaningful practices and then asked to throw the ball 53 times. My goodness, what else, realistically, was supposed to happen? Signing Freeman mid-season when Bill Musgrave was your offensive coordinator and then turning your back on him in the offseason when Norv Turner is your offensive coordinator makes no sense. Verdict: Turner is the QB Whisperer and Freeman has the tools. Put them together and see if something good can finally come from last year's disaster.

3, Matt Cassel: He seems to be the popular choice among fans for the Vikings to use as a bridge to the future. A, He blew up that bridge by opting out of his $3.7 deal. B, I'm pretty sure he looked around before opting out to see if there was a better option available (like Houston, where he'd be reunited with Bill O'Brien). Verdict: Ship has sailed, which isn't as big of a loss as some make it out to be. Sure, he had the Pittsburgh and Baltimore games. But let's not forget the Carolina and Cincinnati games either.

4, Josh McCown: After throwing just 61 passes from 2008 to 2012, McCown completed 66 percent of his 224 passes for 1,824 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception in relief of the injured Jay Cutler in Chicago last year. Verdict: Fools gold. His best landing spot is right back in Chicago as an outstanding 35-year-old backup QB.

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Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 11:10 AM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 11:10 AM
Tampa Bay - D. Price
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Cincinnati - A. Simon
Washington - T. Roark 11:40 AM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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