The NFL has two types of teams — those with franchise quarterbacks and those who are looking for franchise quarterbacks.
The Vikings’ decision to sign Josh Freeman tells us they are searching for a franchise quarterback. Which means they didn’t already have a franchise quarterback. (Which anyone paying attention already knew.)
While on the surface it may appear to be an all-in effort to win now, a league source tells PFT that the Vikings view it as an opportunity to find out whether any of the quarterbacks currently on the roster can become the answer at the position beyond this year.
Competition tends to bring out the best or the worst in people; the Vikings plan to see which, if any, of the quarterbacks rise up to the challenge and play like a guy who can hold the job.
This ultimately provides the Vikings with an exclusive 12-week window to assess Freeman. How does he practice? How does he conduct himself away from the field? How does he play?
Through it all, they’ll be assessing the other quarterbacks in order to decide which one should be the quarterback for the rest of this year, and next year. And the next.
There’s a chance none will step up. Which at least will tell the Vikings they need to step in a different direction come 2014.
And if the Vikings decide not to keep Freeman, they will have paid $2 million for the chance at closely evaluating a potential 10-year franchise quarterback. If/when he signs elsewhere, his departure will factor into the convoluted formula for determining compensatory draft picks, setting the Vikings up for some extra selections based on other free-agency gains and losses.
It remains to be seen how the arrival of Freeman will impact the rest of the team. Per the source, the players were not consulted prior to the move. After Freeman made his decision, coach Leslie Frazier and G.M. Rick Spielman separately spoke with all of the quarterbacks, who understandably were “a little shocked” by the news.
Moving forward, the Vikings will decide which of the four to keep on the roster, with a trade of any of the quarterbacks unlikely. (At least until Spielman declares there’s “no intent” to make a trade.)
Freeman, we’re told by multiple sources, was promised nothing other than a chance. If he plays his way onto the field, he’ll have a Hall of Fame running back and an above-average corps of pass-catchers to help him be more like the guy he was, before he fell out of favor in Tampa.
“I don’t know what happened down there, and I’m not concerned about it,” Spielman tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com regarding Freeman’s Tampa tenure. “We’ve done our due diligence, and we came away with no issues.”
They also may have come away with a 25-year-old franchise quarterback. And that 25-year-old franchise quarterback could be Freeman — or in theory it could be Ponder.