When it comes to the New York Giants' free-agent signing of quarterback Josh Freeman it seems no one is neutral. Opinions vary on whether this was a good, low-risk, high-upside move by the Giants, or simply energy and time wasted on a guy who so bad a season ago that the quarterback-starved Minnesota Vikings wouldn't play him.
So, let's go through some of the opinions generated in the wake of the move.
Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com lauded the move, calling Freeman "the best option they could find at this time." Ranaan wrote:
Freeman has shown he can be a quality NFL quarterback. Just two years ago, he threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns, leaving some to believe Tampa Bay had a Pro Bowl player in the making. He led the Bucs to 10 wins and the playoffs in 2010, and his career numbers are on par with Joe Flacco's.
Sure, last season was a disaster and his performance in a tough spot on a Monday night against the Giants was dreadful, but Freeman has a record of success (80 TDs, 67 INTs) that no other backup QB on the Giants roster can boast. He's thrown 80 career touchdowns, 67 career interceptions. That's comparable to Manning, who threw 98 touchdowns and 74 interceptions in his first five professional seasons.
Painter's started eight games in his NFL career. The Colts lost all eight while he threw six touchdown passes and committed 12 turnovers. He also did nothing in the driving rain against the Redskins (2-of-8 passing, 11 yards) to inspire undeniable confidence.
Nassib, drafted last year in the fourth round, has never been active for a game.
Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger thinks Freeman "may very well be the best" backup quarterback signed this offseason. Orr points out that from 2010-2012 Freeman's statistics were almost identical to those of Baltimore Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco, and adds that "having someone like Freeman behind Manning gives them a better chance" to win in 2014.
ESPN's Dan Graziano feels differently, writing that "if Freeman is on the 2014 Giants, I can't see how that helps them." Graziano adds:
If you think Freeman is going to be some sort of diamond-in-the-rough signing for the Giants, or that having him on the team makes them better prepared to weather a potential Manning absence than they were yesterday, I'm going to take the opposite point of view. The best thing you can say about this move is that it probably can't hurt. But if the addition of Freeman has any impact on the Giants' 2014 season, they're in trouble.
What about the impact of Freeman's signing on Ryan Nassib, the second-year man who was never activated for a game in 2013? There has been much gnashing of teeth throughout the offseason about Nassib's future, and that was exacerbated by the addition of Freeman.
Wall Street Journal Giants' beat reporter Jonathan Clegg addressed the Nassib question Wednesday in a series of tweets.
Don't think the Josh Freeman signing by #NYG is sign of a lack of faith in Ryan Nassib. Tom Coughlin spoke highly of Nassib at NFL meetings.— Jonathan Clegg (@CleggJon) April 16, 2014
Coughlin on Nassib: "He’s going to be a good player. I think he’s going to develop and this will be a real important year for him." #NYG— Jonathan Clegg (@CleggJon) April 16, 2014
In fact, it would be a mild surprise if Freeman makes the team based on Coughlin's comments last month re. carrying 2 QBs on the roster #NYG— Jonathan Clegg (@CleggJon) April 16, 2014
Coughlin on #NYG carrying 3 QBs last yr: "That was a particular situation: a rookie quarterback. He shouldn't be a rookie quarterback now."— Jonathan Clegg (@CleggJon) April 16, 2014
So, where do I stand on all of this? First of all, let me say this. There certainly has been an amazing amount of effort and emotion already spent on this topic. And a whole lot of people fruitlessly trying to figure out exactly what this means for the Giants' quarterback situation, specifically for the future of Nassib.
In all honesty, nobody -- not even the Giants themselves -- know what any of this will mean. It's the middle of April, for crying out loud. The season is still nearly five months away. If you have a crystal ball and you know exactly what will happen between now and then you are smarter than I am, and smarter than Jerry Reese.
What the Giants have done the entire offseason, and continued to do by signing Freeman, is try to avoid what happened to them last season. That, of course, is be caught without adequate replacements in too many spots when injuries struck.
Do we know what will happen with Nassib? No, we don't. I can tell you that I strongly believe the Giants WANT Nassib to step up, clearly earn the backup job behind Eli Manning and allow them to carry only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Complain about his never being active last season if you want, but had he been better than Curtis Painter he would have been active. The Giants, from most indications, were not happy with his development in 2013. If that changes, he steps forward and earns the backup job that's the best scenario for everybody. If he doesn't, maybe Freeman shows during training camp and the preseason that his disastrous 2013 season was an aberration and he would be an upgrade from Painter as Manning's backup.
What if Nassib never even gets to training camp, though? It seems unlikely, but what if someone offers the Giants a second- or third-round pick for the young quarterback? They would be silly not to jump at that, and signing Freeman prepares them for the possibility. It also gives the Giants the extra quarterback they need to get through the offseason with Manning's availability in question following ankle surgery.
Point is, the season is months away and no one can tell you with certainty how any of this will play out. For now, the Giants are just trying to collect the most complete roster they can. That, truthfully, is all we know for sure.