Wide receiver Jerome Simpson entered the free agent market in March of 2012 on the heels of a 50-catch season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011, but his market value was driven down by the potential for a suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. A three-game suspension did come, and the Minnesota Vikings signed Simpson to a one-year, $2 million deal with the idea they had secured a much-needed vertical threat for quarterback Christian Ponder.
But Simpson never really got on track in 2012, due in part to an early season back injury that also caused weakness in his legs, and he wound up with just 26 receptions for 274 yards without a touchdown in 12 games (10 starts). The Vikings surprisingly brought him back on another one-year deal in March, and even gave him a slight raise over last year when his signing bonus and workout bonus are added to his base salary.
The Vikings made some significant changes to their wide receiver group this offseason, most notably trading Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks while signing Greg Jennings in free agency and trading back up into the end of the first round of April’s draft to select Cordarrelle Patterson. The addition of Jennings brings a steady veteran to the mix, and Patterson is expected to compete with Simpson for a starting job. Second-year man Jarius Wright is also expected to have a bigger role this season, but he is unlikely to eat into Simpson’s snaps significantly.
Simpson is in no real danger of losing his roster spot in training camp, but the Vikings obviously recognized he does not have what it takes to be a No. 1 wide receiver and made an effort to bump him down the depth chart. Better health should help him be more productive in 2013, but any noticeable contribution Simpson makes has to be considered a bonus.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.