The Jerome Simpson Experiment will go on for one more year in Minnesota. On Tuesday the Vikings announced that they have retained the receiver’s services, signing him to a new one-year contract. That gives the Vikings a receiver corps of Simpson, Jarius Wright and Some Guys Kevin Williams Has Never Heard Of.
Simpson was brought in last year on a one-year flier deal after a semi-productive season in Cincinnati. The Vikings were not scared away by Simpson’s drug arrest or the suspension he was forced to serve out at the beginning of the season. They needed receiver help and believed Simpson could provide it. Despite his reputation as a less-than-hard worker with lousy hands.
The suspension put Simpson somewhat behind the curve when it came to the offense, but that wasn’t the only thing that derailed his season. He also suffered a mysterious back injury and was left physically hampered for much of the year. As the unproductive games piled up, Simpson became a target of fan and media ridicule. The relationship between Simpson and reporters got so contentious that at one point Leslie Frazier had to personally apologize to beat writer Tom Pelissero.
It was believed by many that Simpson would be sent packing as part of an offseason semi-purge. That at least was the impression created by guys like Pelissero and Judd Zulgad. But evidently those guys let their personal gripes with Simpson cloud their judgment. The Vikes evidently never hesitated in bringing back Simpson despite his alleged bad attitude. Just goes to show, you can’t always trust the impressions of guys created by the media. Simpson is clearly disliked by these oversensitive reporter types but obviously the organization has no problem with his attitude and his teammates also seem to like him.
My concern isn’t so much Simpson’s touchiness with the media, it’s the fact that he’s always had questionable hands and less-than-crisp route running skills. The knock on him before the Vikings signed him was that he just doesn’t work at it. Nothing happened during the year to dispel that notion. Very often during games he just looked lost, and even when the ball got to him he tended to let it bounce off his hands.
Maybe, as the Vikings are trying to insist, those struggles were mostly a function of his back injury and the practice time he lost as a result. The Vikes clearly think he’s worth another shot so they’re bringing him back. I’m still very skeptical but he’s here and we’re going to roll with him. We also need to see what else the Vikes do at receiver in free agency and the draft. If they pile up several better options, Simpson could still wind up leaving. And then Tom Pelissero won’t have to worry about getting called any more bad names.