What will the Vikings do with Jerome Simpson? The receiver was back at Winter Park for a Monday walkthrough, two days after being arrested for DWI during an early morning incident. Simpson said all the right things, apologizing to the team and the fans, but was that enough to smooth things over with Leslie Frazier and Vikings management?
The problem for Simpson of course is that this was not his first significant transgression. In 2012 Simpson was indicted for trafficking in marijuana after police intercepted a package full of pot bound for Simpson’s residence, a case that ended in Simpson copping a plea and receiving probation. Simpson is still bound by the terms of that probation.
The NFL’s potential discipline might be a bigger worry for Simpson right now than what the law has in store for him. Simpson served a three game suspension in the wake of the drug charge, and could face another ban after this latest arrest.
The Vikings are so far standing behind Simpson, at least to the extent that they are able. But Leslie Frazier indicated on Monday that Simpson’s fate with the team could still be up in the air.
Simpson said that he expects to play Sunday, but Leslie Frazier isn’t making any guarantees. “Well, today is Monday. There’s so much more information to be gathered,” Frazier said. “We’ll see [about Simpson playing]. We’ll see what happens.”
Frazier also raised the possibility of league discipline for Simpson, pointing out that Simpson’s prior issues will “definitely factor in with what happens going forward.”
Clearly Frazier is frustrated with Simpson. But is he frustrated enough to send Simpson packing?
The argument could be made that the Vikings should cut their ties with Simpson right now and avoid further embarrassment. Sure Simpson is statistically the best Vikings receiver right now, but that’s not exactly a great accomplishment considering what the other wide-outs have done.
Numbers only tell part of the story with Simpson. The fact is that despite the strides he’s taken this year, Simpson remains a maddeningly inconsistent player. At times he seems engaged and at other times he just doesn’t seem all that into the game. He still has some bad habits, like cutting routes short and not working back to the ball when the QB breaks the pocket. In fairness, that second thing is a big problem for all the Vikings receivers.
Possibly the best argument for cutting ties with Simpson has nothing to do with Simpson’s play at all, and everything to do with Cordarrelle Patterson. Everyone would like to see Patterson get more snaps, but with Simpson as the #1 split end, the rookie is naturally going to see a reduced role. Sending Simpson packing would allow Bill Musgrave to get Patterson and Jarius Wright on the field more.
Simpson’s value to the team in the present is obvious – he’s their best receiver statistically – but what is his future value? Let’s not forget that the Vikings are in rebuilding mode. Is Simpson a guy worth hanging on to for the long-term, or is his presence mostly just an impediment to the progress of Patterson and Wright?
I personally can’t see the upside in keeping Simpson around. He’s demonstrated that he can be an adequate player, but both Patterson and Wright have brighter futures, and the time has come to get them on the field and let them develop. This incident gives the Vikings the perfect excuse to cut ties with Simpson. They gave him a shot and he blew it by being a knucklehead. They don’t owe him anything.
Whatever decision the Vikings make with Simpson will only come after the league has had a chance to review the matter and decide on discipline. If Simpson gets suspended for the rest of the season, then really the matter has been taken out of the Vikings’ hands. If the league decides on only a short suspension or no suspension at all, the Vikes will have to make up their minds whether it’s worthwhile keeping Simpson around.