Third-year quarterback Christian Ponder will no longer be treated with kid gloves. Last year Joe Webb was his backup; this year the Vikings in the off season signed veteran QB Matt Cassel as his backup. Last week, in a surprise move, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released starting quarterback Josh Freeman, and Sunday the Vikings signed the former Pro Bowl quarterback to a one-year $2 million deal.
Freeman last season threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns. This season, he and Tampa Bay Head Coach Greg Shiano were at odds. In fact, Shiano benched Freeman two weeks ago and deactivated him for the Arizona Cardinals game. With rookie quarterback replacement Mike Glennon, the Buccaneers lost 13-10 to Arizona.
Last week, someone released private information about Freeman being in stage one of the NFL’s drug program, which damaged his marketability and reputation. Freeman was compelled to reveal he has ADHD and that he has an
exemption for medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Obviously, no one should have to do what Freeman did — explain his personal medical issue publicly. The NFL and the NFLPA promise an investigation into who leaked the information, because clearly the guilty snitch should be punished, fined or suspended.
Last Thursday, while the Vikings were on their bye week after winning 34-27 over Pittsburgh in London, the Buccaneers released Freeman, making him a free agent. The Vikings, with QB issues — Ponder with a cracked rib and a passing attack that has struggled — took the initiative, pursued Freeman and signed him.
“It’s a great opportunity signing Josh Freeman to our roster. We are very excited,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spillman.
“I’m pumped up to be a Minnesota Viking,” said Freeman, “to be a part of a first-class organization. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.” Freeman is not here to back up; he will start competing for the starting quarterback job beginning next week.
Sunday the Vikings return home and play another team that mirrors them. Last week in London, both the Vikings and Steelers were 0-3. This week both the Vikings and Carolina are 1-3.
With the NFL’s MVP Adrian Peterson, the Vikings know the clock is ticking. The Vikings are just 48-45 with Peterson. Upgrading the passing game is critical. It’s a bold, aggressive move by the Vikings. No time to worry about egos. It’s time to produce. It’s time to win games.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.
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