Image Credit: (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
Welcome to another article in my writing series that I call The Stunning Cut. This is a series where I look at cuts in the preseason or in the regular season that stunned many when the news was released. For this one, I decided to do a player who growing up I called one of the quickest and most stunning falls from graces in the NFL. I was 13 years old at the time and I could not believe how stunned I was to hear his release. So of course this had to be a part of The Stunning Cut series now that I am older and look back at that time.
Who is Josh Freeman?
Josh Freeman is a football player that played the quarterback position. He was a 4-star high school recruit and colleges were scouring him. Freeman would eventually choose to go play football at Kansas State. He built his resume as a 1st round prospect having strong seasons excluding his freshman season. When it came to the NFL he did in fact get drafted in the 1st round and was taken 17th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He was supposed to be the franchise QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In his rookie year he did not perform well as in 10 games he had completed 54.5% of his passes, threw for 1,855 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, and 18 interruptions. Not a great season, but luckily the next season he did improve as the full-time starter, and the team went 10-6 but missed the playoffs. In the 2011 season, he did not have a great season and regressed a lot. This led to the Buccaneers needing a coaching change and they fired Rasheem Morris. The Buccaneers then decided to hire Greg Schiano as head coach and he was at the time one of the best coaches in college. With Schiano as the coach, this team did improve going 7-9 and even Freeman had the best season of his career. It looked like it was all going to get better long-term. However, that would not be the case.
The Day He Got Cut
Ok now, this was a weird one as it happened midseason. It was clear that Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman did not have a great relationship, even since the beginning of their relationship. Schiano also was more of a fan of rookie QB Mike Glennon than Josh Freeman. Then came the fact that Josh Freeman started missing practices and even the team photo. Along with him not being selected as the team captain for the team. Which is very telling of what his other teammates thought of him as well. Then the 2013 season hit and we saw him start the first few games of the season and he was terrible. It resulted in Freeman getting benched for Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers would then offer him in the trade market and apparently, there was nobody who wanted to acquire him and it resulted in the Buccaneers just cutting ties. It was super stunning that they would do this in the middle of the season as he was the guy that took a majority of the 1st team snaps until this point. But man, to go from being a rising prospect in the NFL to a Pro Bowl appearance, to out of a job is quite a fall from grace.
The Aftermath of Getting Cut
Not even a few days passed and the Minnesota Vikings decided to bring in Josh Freeman. He was expected to have a fresh start with this team, but let's just say it did not work out. If he thought his time in Tampa Bay was bad, it would get a lot worse in Minnesota. At the time the Vikings had Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder as their QBs. It was clear both were not going to be the options long term and the Vikings decided to give Freeman a shot as he was a starting QB with the Buccaneers and he showed in 2010 and 2012.
Once Freeman was signed it was all downhill from here. Let's just say that the Vikings would mishandle Freeman as not even 10 days before he joined the Vikings he started with them. Which of course is a great idea to bring in a player and give him just a few days for him to remember the playbook. I remembered players after that week of practice said it was honestly one of the worst practices ever.
This was during the time Leslie Frazier was the head coach. Now look, Frazier is a great defensive coordinator and probably a Top 5 defensive coordinator in the league today, but he was a terrible head coach. Honestly, Frazier is probably the worst coach in the Vikings franchise's history not named Les Steckel. I mean maybe you can argue Norm Van Brocklin, but to me, I think Frazier was just as bad. Except for that one dumb year where AP legit carried them to the playoffs, Frazier did next to nothing in Minnesota.
So now we get to probably the worst Monday Night Football game that I have ever seen, where the Minnesota Vikings took on the New York Giants. There are many games I would even consider, but this game is definitely up there. At this time this was a Tank Game in the Tournament for the 1st overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, as both teams at the time were at the bottom of the league. I'm not reviewing the game, but Freeman was horrendous in this game.
There were two questions that I asked once that game was over for the Vikings. The first is, why are you having Freeman throw the ball 51 times as he just got here and doesn’t fully know the playbook yet? The second is that Adrian Peterson is healthy and is one of the best weapons in the NFL at this time. Why is he only getting 10 carries in this game? Especially with how bad the Giants defense was at that time he should have been utilized a lot more.
All I know is this game pretty much sealed both Leslie Frazier and Josh Freeman’s fate. Frazier was eventually fired at the end of the season after the Vikings went 5-10-1. Freeman after this game went from starter to 3rd stringer overnight. He would spend the majority of the game as a healthy scratch and was not brought back after this season.
Since leaving the Minnesota Vikings Freeman would bounce on and off multiple teams. He signed with the New York Giants in 2014, but only lasted a month with the team. Then Freeman would sign a deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2015 but did not make the final roster. Freeman would then join the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL) Brooklyn Bolts until the league's 2015 season ended abruptly. Luckily the Colts came calling and signed him to a contract at the end of the 2015 season. He even started a game for them due to Hasselback and Luck being injured but did not impress. Josh Freeman then went to the Canadian Football League (CFL) after he could not get another contract in the NFL. Freeman played with the Calgary Stampeders in 2017 and Montreal Alouettes in 2018. Freeman would eventually retire from playing American Football in 2018 at the age of 30. It is a shame how Freeman’s career turned out as the guy had talent, but he was put in multiple bad situations and did not have the best work ethic.