In his lone 2013 NFL start for the Minnesota Vikings, Josh Freeman, the former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, played about as badly as he could in a 23-17 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 21. Freeman had signed a one-year, $3 million contract soon after the Bucs released him, and he was thrown into the fire very quickly, making his first start a couple weeks after his signing. Freeman was horrid, completing 20-of-53 passes for 190 yards no touchdowns and an interception. He frequently overthrew receivers and looked completely out of place, and he never took another snap for the Vikings through the whole season.
"I definitely need time. … as an offense and personally as a quarterback," Freeman said after the game, a performance he had after just four practices with his new team. "You come in with goals and expectations. The Giants did a good job getting the rush. Stopping the run, we never really got that established. Like you said, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. But, at the same time, I see a lot of areas that are manageable in terms of improvement. We can definitely get better. As time moves on, we’re going to develop that chemistry. A lot of these plays that are just a hair off are going to start hitting for us."
The Vikings finished 5-10-1, head coach Leslie Frazier was fired at the end of the season, and Freeman was cast to the four winds.
So, it's interesting that the Giants decided to take Freeman off the free-agency scrap heap, signing him to a one-year deal on Wednesday, according to Mike Garafolo of FoxSports.com. The Giants had met with Freeman and Matt Flynn, who re-signed with the Green Bay Packers instead. According to ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Packers had interest in signing Freeman if Flynn switched teams. Freeman will likely be brought in as camp fodder -- behind Eli Manning, the Giants already have 2013 fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib and longtime NFL backup Curtis Painter on the roster.
Freeman was selected in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Kansas State, and showed decent potential through his first few seasons. But when the Bucs hired head coach Greg Schiano in 2012, it all started to go wrong. Schiano and Freeman butted heads over just about everything, and Freeman's release seemed to be a fait accompli. Still, the Vikings had reason to expect more than they got from Freeman, even if they didn't set him up ideally for success. Grade: B. As long as this is a low-ball deal, the Giants really didn't do anything wrong. Freeman is a quarterback who needs help from his receivers and route concepts, and under Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, he had little chance to succeed. Similarly, his short tenure in Minnesota was marred by a lack of time to prepare and unimpressive targets. And the one game he had with Adrian Peterson in his backfield came soon after Peterson had to bury his infant son. I thought that Freeman could have done decently in the right environment, and though his days as a legitimate NFL starter are probably done, he could provide decent backup insurance for Manning, who had his worst season in 2013. Of course, the same issues that hurt Manning last year -- inconsistent skill players and a horrid offensive line -- would befall Freeman as well. The Giants have more problems than this signing can solve, but it's not as bad as it may look.