Thursday, February 6, 2014
Meet the free agents: WR Jerome Simpson
By Ben Goessling
Every day we’ll take a look at one of the Minnesota Vikings heading for free agency, what he has meant to the team before and a prognosis on whether or not he’ll be back with the club in 2014.
Free agent to be: Jerome Simpson
Position: Wide receiver
Years in the league: 6
What he made last season: $2,100,000 (cap number); $2,100,000 (cash value)
What he did last season: Simpson had one of the best years of his career, eclipsing his career high in yardage (by one yard) and coming two catches shy of matching his career high there as well. He caught 48 passes for 726 yards and a touchdown, and looked like he'd found a home in Minnesota until Nov. 9, when he was arrested for drunken driving in Minneapolis. Simpson, who'd already served a three-game suspension in 2012 for a drug-related arrest, lost his starting job to Cordarrelle Patterson and saw his role diminish during the final six weeks of the season.
His potential market value: Simpson would command plenty of interest as a third receiver, but with the potential of NFL discipline looming over him, it's tough to say what he would command on the open market. He would be an effective third receiver for the Vikings, and could fit in especially well in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense. It will depend on whether the Vikings -- or another team -- wants to pay for another year where Simpson might not be on the field for all 16 games.
Will he still fit the Vikings? Yes. He stretched the field as well as he has at any point in his career last season, and has blossomed into an effective run-blocker under receivers coach George Stewart. That trait could give him more value to the Vikings than many teams in the league, and could buy him playing time in Minnesota, since Simpson is a better downfield blocker than either Greg Jennings or Patterson.
What happens: Simpson remains a risk, but if he's able to line up outside and allow Jennings to move to the slot on three-receiver sets, he'd still have value to the Vikings. The guess here is the team will bring Simpson back on another one-year deal and see if he can reward their continuing faith in him.