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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ex-Bucs QB Freeman signs one-year deal with Vikings

TAMPA – There was still another chapter to be written in the Josh Freeman saga late Sunday, and the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback began to write it when he signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings just before midnight.

“We just finished it up,'' Freeman's agent Erik Burkhardt told The Tampa Tribune late Sunday evening. “It's a done deal.''

Freeman was expected to fly to Minneapolis today.

Freeman's signing comes three days after he was released by the Bucs at the end of a week-long ordeal that started with the fifth-year quarterback being removed from the starting lineup by Bucs coach Greg Schiano.

Freeman is joining a crowded but uncertain quarterback situation in Minnesota where Christian Ponder started the season opener and Matt Cassel led the team to its first win while filling in for an injured Ponder a week ago in London.

The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported that Freeman talked with Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier over the weekend and felt comfortable about joining the team.

''We are always looking to add good players to our roster and I think we have done that with Josh," Frazier told the Star-Tribune.

Freeman was the starter through the first three games of the Bucs' 0-4 start but was benched after that. He was eventually released after the Bucs decided that his whole saga had become too much of a distraction.

A fifth-year veteran out of Kansas State, Freeman was the Bucs' first-round draft pick in 2009 and the face of the franchise for the better part of five seasons, but inconsistent play and off-field issues sparked his downfall.

Those off-field issues resulted in Freeman being fined more than $35,000 for multiple team infractions since the start of the season, a team source confirmed to The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday.

The violations included missing a team meal and being late for the team bus on the morning of the season-opening game against the Jets, conducting an unauthorized interview and missing two meetings last week.

Freeman also acknowledged oversleeping and missing the team photo on Sept. 2, six days before the season opener against the Jets. Two days later, Freeman was not among the players elected as team captains, despite serving as a captain the three previous seasons.

Freeman was as inconsistent on the field as he was off this year, ranking 33rd in the 32-team NFL in completion percentage (45.7) and passer rating (59.3) through the team's 0-3 start.

That sparked Schiano's “performance-based” decision to bench Freeman, who was initially named the team's backup quarterback behind rookie third-round draft pick Mike Glennon. That status seemed to change, however, after Freeman conducted the unauthorized interview with ESPN.

Freeman, who said during that interview he thought the best option for him moving forward was a trade, was deemed inactive for Sept. 29 game against Arizona, which he watched from a team suite.


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