2012 will go down as a lost year in the NFL career of wide receiver Jerome Simpson, from a three-game suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy to a pinched nerve in his back that helped limit him to just 26 receptions for 274 yards without a touchdown in 12 games played.
It seemed to be a foregone conclusion the Minnesota Vikings would not make any effort to bring Simpson back for a second season with the team in 2013, but they did just that, signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.1 million in March. With the addition of Greg Jennings in free agency and later Cordarrelle Patterson in the draft, having Simpson as something other than their No. 1 wide receiver was something the Vikings could clearly handle.
Simpson had his best game with the Vikings in Week 1 against the Detroit Lions, with seven receptions for 140 yards that included two catches of 40-plus yards. More importantly, last season’s back injury appears to be behind him and Simpson may now be able to recapture the potential he showed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011 (50 receptions for 725 yards).
Simpson said he feels like he can do more going forward, and wants to be a consistent contributor in order to prove himself worthy of a long-term contract from the Vikings. Can he perform like he hopes to over the rest of the season?
Patterson only played five snaps in his first NFL game last week, and it should only be a matter of time before he plays more, be it at the expense of Simpson or another receiver. That does not mean Simpson’s role has to go away if he loses snaps, just that he may have fewer overall chances to make an impact.
Expecting Simpson to put up the numbers he did last week on a regular basis is foolish, and frankly unrealistic. But if he can stay healthy, be as consistent as he says he’d like to be and occasionally catch a deep ball, I think the Vikings will be happy to reward him with the multi-year deal he seeks.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.