It appears the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback mix is about to get a lot mixier. According to multiple reports from multiple sources, former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is set to sign with purple. The Vikes were rumored to be Freeman’s most likely destination all day, but late in the day it was reported that the Buffalo Bills were making a hard push. The Raiders were also apparently in it until the last second. But in the end, the Vikings were the team to land Freeman.
We’ll have to see what kind of financial terms are involved in this deal. Freeman already got his guaranteed money from the Buccaneers as an eff-off present so money’s not really an issue here, which is good news because the Vikings only have a couple million in cap space. Clearly Freeman isn’t concerned about money; he wants to go somewhere with a shaky QB situation so he can come in, impress the coaches with his physical tools and win the job. Then go out and hopefully win some games and score a big contract either in Minnesota or somewhere else.
And what does this all mean for Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel? If the Vikings think Freeman can come in and pick up the offense quickly, I see no reason why he shouldn’t start in the next couple of weeks. Of course Ponder is currently hurt and reportedly won’t be ready to play for possibly another month. Right now Cassel probably represents a better backup option than Ponder, given his experience and the fact that he was signed for that purpose anyway. So where does that leave Ponder?
I think there’s a very good chance Ponder gets cut. Which would be a pretty amazing circumstance when you think about it. From undisputed starter to unemployed in the space of a few short months? And frankly I thought Ponder looked halfway decent in a couple of those games before the injury. But there have always been other questions about the guy, including leadership. Certain Vikings, notably Adrian Peterson, made note of how much different the huddle felt with Cassel in there, how much more command Cassel had over the situation.
This could be a case of the veterans on the team speaking loudly and clearly and being heard by the coaches and front office. If the other players have no faith in Ponder, then how can Ponder truly be a leader? Starting over in the middle of the season with a new QB seems like a big gamble, but Rick Spielman is not afraid of gambling, as we saw by his big draft day trade to move up and get Cordarrelle Patterson. Booting Ponder for Freeman would be another roll of the dice in every way except financially.
My gosh, things have gotten dramatic again here in Minnesota. And this is the bye week? Sheesh.
Update: Freeman’s contract will reportedly pay him in the neighborhood of $3 million. I would have to guess some kind of last-minute bidding war erupted between the Vikes and a second team, possibly Buffalo, to drive the price up that high. The Vikes didn’t have much cap room so we’ll see how they manage this.