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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

QB Josh Freeman signs with Minnesota Vikings



Heavily pursued by as many as 10 teams, discarded Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman chose to sign a one-year, $3-million deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

Freeman, who was cut by the Bucs on Thursday, narrowed his list Sunday night from a group of teams that included the Raiders, Buffalo Bills and 49ers.

He waited until after Sunday's NFL games to make a decision in case a significant injury changed the quarterback scenario.

Freeman joins a crowded quarterback room in Minnesota that already includes former Florida State star Christian Ponder and veteran backup Matt Cassel.

Freeman, 25, left a good impression on the Vikings last season when he passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 win at the Metrodome Oct. 25.

The Vikings are coming off a bye week. Last Sunday, Cassel had a turnover-free performance to help Minnesota to its first win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in London. Ponder, who had been inconsistent during a turnover-filled 0-3 start, was nursing a rib injury.

Freeman, the 17th overall pick in 2009, spoke with Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman Sunday.

After setting Bucs single-season records with 4,065 passing yards and 27 touchdowns agianst 17 interceptions in 2012, Freeman quickly fell out of favor with coach Greg Schiano this season.

During the Bucs' winless start, Freeman completed only 45.7 percent of his passes and owned a passer rating of 59.3.

Ponder's numbers were similarly awful during the Vikings 0-3 start. He had a passer rating of 65.9 with seven turnovers before a broken rib forced him to miss last week's game in London.

Freeman's signing with the Vikings brings closure to one of the most dramatic quarterback splits in the league. In addition to his $3-million deal with the Vikings, Freeman will receive $6.2-million from the Bucs -- the remainder of his 2013 salary.

Schiano benched Freeman on Sept. 25 in favor of rookie Mike Glennon, a third round pick from North Carolina State, two days after saying he gave the Bucs the best chance to win.

Initially, Freeman was going to serve as the Bucs No. 2 quarterback. But he was inactive and ordered to watch the Bucs' 13-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in a luxury suite for inactive players at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs fined Freeman for missing a meeting and for arranging an unauthorized interview with ESPN in which he said he wanted to be traded.

A week ago, a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen revealed that Freeman was part of the NFL's substance abuse program, prompting an investigation by the NFL Players' Association because the program is highly confidential. Freeman explained he had permission to take Adderall for his ADHD condition and volunteered to enter the program after substituting Ritalin.

Freeman accused someone in the Bucs organization of leaking the information about his involvement in the testing program.

The Bucs also said that Freeman missed the team meal and was late for the Bucs before the seson opener against the New York Jets.

Freeman joins an offense that is not unlike the one he left in Tampa Bay and centered around running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's Most Valuable Player last season.






[Last modified: Monday, October 7, 2013 12:52am]


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