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Thursday, January 2, 2014
Jerome Simpson avoids jail time

By Ben Goessling
ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson avoided jail time on Thursday after pleading guilty to careless driving and a third-degree DWI charge stemming from his Nov. 9 arrest in Minneapolis.

Simpson's sentence for the third-degree DWI -- or refusal to submit to a breath test -- was stayed, and he will perform 120 hours of community service in public schools instead of spending 15 days in a workhouse for the careless driving charge. He will be on probation for one year. He also had a third charge for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol dropped.

Simpson still could face NFL discipline, though, after being arrested for the second time in two years. He was suspended for the first three games of the 2012 season for a drug-related arrest in Kentucky, and the terms of his probation from that conviction barred him from using alcohol. The receiver could face additional punishment for violating the terms of that probation.

The receiver, who will be a free agent in March, caught 48 passes for 726 yards this season, setting a career high in the latter category by 1 yard while falling two catches short of his career high. He had played on the second of two one-year deals with the Vikings, and though the team could bring him back next season, it will have to decide if it wants to deal with the potential of more off-the-field headaches.

Simpson lost his starting spot after being arrested on Nov. 9, when he was pulled over on Interstate 394 in Minneapolis. He denied having been drinking, but admitted he was coming from a bar in downtown Minneapolis and registered on a breath test a blood-alcohol content level of .095, which is over Minnesota's legal limit of .08.

The Vikings worked Simpson back into their lineup as a third receiver, but the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson as the team's split end could mean Simpson would have a hard time winning a starting spot if he does come back to the team in 2014.