As we reported within the past hour, the Vikings will sign quarterback Josh Freeman. As others have reported, the contract will pay Freeman $3 million over the rest of the season.
The financial commitment shows that Freeman will be given every chance to claim the job. For a full year, the pay projects to a base salary of $4.25 million. That’s more than twice Matt Cassel’s $1.65 million for the year. It’s nearly three times Christian Ponder’s base salary of $1.29 million.
The Vikings likely will say that Ponder is still the starter. But Ponder also is injured, with at least one fractured rib.
A potential fracture also was developing between the coaching staff and key players like Adrian Peterson. The powers-that-be seemed to be committed to Ponder. The players were gravitating toward Cassel.
Freeman has done enough during his time in the NFL to pull everyone together, at least in the short term.
The move for Freeman feels a lot like the effort in 2009 to bolster an offense led by running back Adrian Peterson. Then, it was a 39-year-old Brett Favre. Now, it’s a 25-year-old Freeman.
Either way, it’s a Hail Mary to push the team back toward playoff contention, starting with a Week Six game against the Panthers, a team Freeman has faced twice per year.
It’s likely the two games played by Freeman against Minnesota that made the biggest difference for the Vikings. Last October, Freeman torched the Minnesota defense for 36 points, with a big assist from Doug Martin. The prior year, Freeman led the Bucs out of a 17-0 halftime deficit in Minnesota to score a 24-20 win.
Look for Freeman to get a chance to go 3-0 in the Metrodome on Sunday. Otherwise, the Vikings will be paying him $250,000 to hold a clipboard.
Still, the move entails risk. The last time the Vikings signed a veteran quarterback who wears No. 5, it was a debacle. If the Freeman experiment fails miserably, those who pulled the trigger also may have signed their pink slip.