Josh Freeman Arrives in Minnesota; What Should the Vikings Do at Quarterback?
News broke late last night that former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman had agreed to join the Minnesota Vikings after being courted by several NFL teams. I was watching the Raiders, Chargers game when that scrolled across my screen and I instantly thought, "goodbye Ponder". But, is that what will happen?
After the Freeman news broke, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was quoted as saying that Christian Ponder still had a bright future with the team. Not sure what his definition of "bright" is, but actions certainly speak louder than words.
I think we've all seen enough of Christian Ponder to realize that he just isn't a high caliber starting quarterback. He's a nice guy, he has some talent and he belongs in the NFL, just most likely not as a starter. I think the Vikings owe it to him to let him go, don't make him a backup on the team he was once promised the starting job. He'll sign somewhere else without a doubt, most likely as a backup.
I'm not saying Josh Freeman is without a doubt the answer for the Vikings for the long-term. However, it's obvious that the Vikings know that Ponder is not. Freeman is young, has a big arm, and has much more upside than Ponder if he can get the swagger back that made him one of the hot rising quarterbacks just a few short years ago. It is worth a shot, especially with a QB heavy draft coming up in 2014.
I think you do the right thing and let Ponder go. Skip the rhetoric and trying to have your cake and eat it too. Then, you start Matt Cassel until he loses a game or struggles. That buys you time to get Freeman familiar with the offense and his new teammates. When that time is right, put Freeman in as your starter and ride it out so that you can get a good look at how he handles himself on the field and in the locker room.
At the end of the season, you plan on drafting a QB no matter how things play out. The decision to make is whether to retain Matt Cassel to battle for the starting job and mentor the rookie or, if Freeman impresses, let Cassel go. You'd then sign Freeman to a longer deal and give him the opportunity to beat out the rookie quarterback in training camp.
The Vikings need to create competition for the starting quarterback regardless. We don't have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady on the roster, so there must be competition. Ponder was simply given the job, and that helped create this whole situation.
My guess is going into next year, the Vikings will have Josh Freeman signed to a long-term deal, with a promising rookie quarterback also on the roster. They can push each other and if Freeman fizzles out like he did in Tampa, we will have someone ready.