Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Freeman signs with Vikings

TAMPA — Discarded Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman had his pick of 10 teams.

Late Sunday night, he signed a one-year deal worth $3 million with the Vikings, his agent said.

Freeman, released by the Bucs on Thursday, reportedly also was pursued by, among other teams, the Raiders, Bills and 49ers.

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

Last season, Freeman, 25, passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-17 win against the Vikings.

The Vikings are coming off a bye week. In their previous game, Sept. 29, Cassel had a turnover-free performance to help them to their first win of the season, over the Steelers in London. Ponder, inconsistent during a turnover-filled 0-3 start, missed the game with a broken rib.

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

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

During an 0-4 start, Freeman, who also will get the $6.2 million owed by the Bucs, completed only 45.7 percent of his passes and owned a passer rating of 59.3. Ponder's numbers were similar during an 0-3 start, a passer rating of 65.9 with seven turnovers.

Freeman's signing with the Vikings brings closure to a dramatic quarterback split.

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

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

Schiano called the decision to watch from the suite "mutual." But Freeman's agent, Erik Burkhardt, called the assertion a "lie, obviously."

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

On Sept. 29, ESPN reported Freeman was part of the NFL's substance-abuse program, prompting an investigation by the players' union because the program is confidential.

On Sept. 30, Freeman said he had permission to take Adderall for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder condition and volunteered to enter the program after substituting Ritalin. He added he has passed every drug test since.

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

The Bucs also said Freeman missed the team meal and was late for the bus before the season opener against the Jets.

Rick Stroud can be reached at [email protected]

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