Giants cut QB Josh Freeman – Will He make a 2014 NFL Roster?

josh-freeman-new-york-giantsNine months ago, Josh Freeman was going into the NFL regular season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fifth-year starter. However, things fell apart after he slept through a team photo, lost his captaincy, was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon as a starter, and had his involvement in the NFL’s drug program leaked by then-head coach Greg Schiano’s staff.

He did get a second chance last season, though, with the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Leslie Frazier made the curious decision to start Freeman early, resulting in a disastrous 20-for-53 throwing performance. That was the last Freeman would see the field in Minnesota, despite being paid a healthy $3 million for a half-season’s work.

A Second…Third Chance

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-2For some quarterbacks, this might have been a death knell to their career. But then again, Freeman still has plenty of talent as he’s blessed with size (6’6″, 240 pounds), an excellent arm, good mobility and a high Wonderlic test score. Plus, he has a wealth of stats behind his five-year career, including 13,724 passing yards, 80 TD passes and 67 interceptions. So it was little surprise when the New York Giants gave Freeman a second chance by signing him.

Starting quarterback Eli Manning and his backup, Curtis Painter, both underwent offseason surgery, so Freeman was signed on April 21st as insurance. However, Manning returned to practice this week and Painter is likely to return before training camp begins. This, coupled with second-year QB Ryan Nassib’s emergence, was making the signal-caller position tight in New York.

So the Giants chose to release Freeman today, putting his NFL future in jeopardy. And who did they replace him with? Roger Gaines, an undrafted, free agent offensive lineman who spent all of last season on the Chicago Bears practice squad. Not exactly the type of “talent” that you’d expect to replace a former first-round pick like Freeman.

Same Ole’ Problems

josh-freeman-new-york-giants-1When Freeman went to Minnesota last year, there was plenty of grumbling surrounding him. For starters, he was said to be one of the last guys into the team facilities and late to team meetings every day. This being the case, it’s little wonder why an unnamed Vikings player said, “You could tell Josh did not know the offense.”

Fast-forward to this spring and it appears that Freeman was having the same type of troubles in New York. One particular play was telling as Freeman lined up the offense incorrectly and was quickly pulled off the field in favor of Painter. We haven’t heard any rumors that the former Kansas State star was late to meetings and practices. However, it’s clear that he is still having a rough time picking up the offense.

New York was the only team willing to take a chance on Freeman this offseason. Given that he couldn’t even beat out Painter, Nassib or a practice-squad lineman who’s never played an NFL snap, the future of Freeman’s football career is quite murky. He could get another shot in the middle of the 2014 NFL season, when injuries start piling up and teams get desperate to fill holes.

But for now, it’s hard to see another team wasting time and roster space on Freeman since, judging from his Minnesota and New York stints, he obviously needs a lot of time to learn new offenses.

NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat in 2013: Gary Kubiak, Greg Schiano and More

greg-schiano-hot-seatAs is the case every year, certain NFL teams disappoint their owners and fans, which always puts the head coaches on the hot seat. In 2013, some of the more disappointing teams have been the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

Of course, there are other teams that weren’t expected to do well this season, yet still need a good year to save their coach’s job. The New York Jets and Oakland Raiders fall into this category because fans and ownership are growing impatient with the lack of recent postseason bids. Now let’s take a look at how each of these team’s coaches are doing in their bid to stay employed.

Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay, 3-8) – Hot Seat Temperature: Very High – It was all but a forgone conclusion that Greg Schaino was going to be fired after the Josh Freeman mess and, more importantly, an 0-8 start. However, the Bucs have provided a glimmer of hope after winning three straight games. Make no mistake about it, Schiano is still in big danger of being fired. But if he can inspire his team over the remainder of the NFL season, maybe he stands a chance of being saved.

Gary Kubiak (Houston, 2-9) – Hot Seat Temperature: High – By most admissions, Gary Kubiak is a pretty good coach, which is why he’s been in Houston for eight seasons. But his team was built to win a title this year, and now they’re arguably the NFL’s worst. Of course, this isn’t all Kubiak’s fault since injuries and other problems have plagued his team. Unfortunately, few people are showing him sympathy, even after his mini-stroke a few weeks ago. His handling of the Case Keenum/Matt Schaub quarterback situation hasn’t helped matters.

leslie-frazier-hot-seatLeslie Frazier (Minnesota, 2-8-1) – Hot Seat Temperature: High – Most people realize that the Vikings overachieved when they made the playoffs last year, thanks to an absolutely torrid second half by Adrian Peterson. Even still, everybody expected them to at least be competitive heading into 2013. Much like Kubiak, Frazier has dealt with a quarterback debacle, having started Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Freeman at various points of the season.

Dennis Allen (Oakland, 4-7) – Hot Seat Temperature: High – An Oakland coach on the hot seat…imagine that. Allen has an 8-20 record over his season and a half with the Raiders, which isn’t going to turn any heads. This team received a boost from Terrelle Pryor’s excellent play early on. However, a sprained knee hampered Pryor and put a damper on the Raiders’ season. They’re still not completely out of the AFC Wild Card race, though, meaning Allen will need some wins to show he definitely deserves this job.

mike-shanahan-hot-seatMike Shanahan (Washington, 3-8) – Hot Seat Temperature: Medium – Shanahan didn’t exactly inherit the most talent in 2010, but still, he molded this team into a postseason club three years later. Now, with Robert Griffin III on the roster, Shanahan is expected to keep winning, which hasn’t happened in 2013. Players like DeAngelo Hall have expressed a desire for Shanahan to return next season. But whether this happens or not is mainly up to Daniel Snyder, who seems to really love Griffin’s talent above anything else.

Rex Ryan (New York Jets, 5-6) – Hot Seat Temperature: Medium – If there’s one team that’s exceeded expectations on this list, it is definitely New York. This was merely supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Jets, where Geno Smith was introduced as the franchise quarterback. However, things have flip-flopped, with the 5-6 Jets tied for the sixth AFC Wild Card spot, and Smith looking like a third-stringer. If Smith doesn’t play better soon, or if Ryan doesn’t bench him soon, the latter could be looking for another job.

What Impact will Josh Freeman have on the Minnesota Vikings?

josh-freeman-minnesota-vikingsEver since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him last week, Josh Freeman had been a hot commodity among teams seeking a reliable quarterback. Maybe “reliable” isn’t the word here, given how tumultuous Freeman’s last days in Tampa Bay ended. But several desperate NFL clubs were willing to take a chance on him if it means salvaging their season.

The Minnesota Vikings proved to be the most attractive destination since Freeman signed with them today. The deal is a one-year, $3 million contract, with the 25-year-old reportedly wanting to only sign for one season instead of two. He picked Minnesota over the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.

The obvious thought that comes to mind here is how the Vikings quarterback situation will play out. Coming off of a rib injury, Christian Ponder is the incumbent starter and the supposed QB of the future. But since being taken with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Florida State product has never been truly impressive. 2013 has been especially bad since he’s thrown for 691 yards, 2 TD’s, 5 INT”s, and fumbled twice in three starts.

Matt Cassel is the other option, and he led the Vikings to their first win of the year just before Minnesota’s bye week. He racked up 248 yards and 2 touchdowns after completing 16-of-25 passes. Most importantly, he didn’t have any turnovers, which is something that’s plagued Ponder.

josh-freeman-tampa-bayEnter Freeman, who compiled very good numbers with the Buccaneers in the first four years of his career. He had 12,090 yards, 76 TD’s, 54 INT’s and a 59.1 completion percentage. But as mentioned before, things fell apart since he missed important team functions and didn’t get along with second-year head coach Greg Schiano. One week after losing his starting job to rookie Mike Glennon, Freeman was cut loose by the Bucs.

Now in Minnesota, Freeman doesn’t figure to start right away. Head coach Leslie Frazier has already said that either Ponder or Cassel will start against the Carolina Panthers. But the Vikings certainly aren’t paying Freeman $3 million for three-quarters of a season to be a bench warmer. He’s been brought in to compete for the starting job and take over if Ponder continues to falter.

Frazier even hinted at this by saying, “That’s part of the equation. That’s definitely on the table. We’ll see how well he progresses and how well he picks up our offense.”

However, he also alluded to the fact that Ponder still has an opportunity to retain the job. “I think Christian still has a bright future here with our football team,” he said. “It may not look like that on the surface, but Christian is a professional. He’s going to work as hard as he can every day to prepare and get back on the field and help our team win.”

As mentioned before, Ponder is/was supposed to be the future of this franchise. But with a talent like Adrian Peterson, Minnesota isn’t content to wait another year or two for him to catch on. The team is in a win-now mode since they arguably have the league’s most talented running back.

josh-freeman-minnesota-vikings-1Seeing as how Peterson is 28 years old, he doesn’t have a lot of prime years left. So this essentially becomes a question of whether or not the Vikings are willing to risk Peterson’s golden years on a chance that Ponder might turn things around. With Freeman now in town, odds are that Minnesota is, instead, betting on the guy who rushed for over 2,000 yards last season.

So now we come to the question of what Freeman can do for the Vikings. With a 1-3 record, this team is already in the hole. And things won’t get any easier since they’re in an extremely tough division which includes Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago.

But Freeman at least provides a slightly better opportunity to win now than Ponder does. Sure the Vikings aren’t getting Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees here; but they are getting a five-year veteran who has good arm strength and can put up decent numbers.

Now the big question will be if he can take advantage of having a threat like Peterson in the offense. Opponents constantly have to be aware of number 28 at all times. So this will take some of the pressure off Freeman, perhaps even more so than what Doug Martin did in Tampa Bay.

It’s still early enough in the year for Minnesota to make a turnaround. They are 1.5 games out of the NFC North lead and still have plenty of contests left against their division foes. But Freeman is going to have to play better than ever before to help the Vikings make a playoff run.