Since the Minneosta Vikings lost Sidney Rice to free agency, they have been hunting and pecking for a replacement. Bernard Berrian, Devin Aromashadu, Greg Childs; the Vikings just haven’t had any luck. They have a stud running back (Adrian Peterson), a young developing top of the line tight end (Kyle Rudolph), an electric play making wide receiver (Percy Harvin), and a young quarterback they believe in (Christian Ponder), but are missing that down field element to really allow this offense to take off. The Vikings think Jerome Simpson can be that piece.
Coming out of school, he was considered a very raw prospect, and many were surprised the Cincinnati Bengals reached up and took him in the second round like they did. They knew he was a developmental project, but they also didn’t want to risk losing him before he came back – the old adage when it comes to reaching for players on draft day.
He was most talked about because of his giant hands, but drop issues in school and in the offseason leading up to the draft indicated he didn’t know how to use them. Very sloppy route running was an issue, too, as was his deep speed. So, what was there to like about him? He just made plays. He’s incredibly quick and shifty in and out of his breaks, and when he got himself in position he displayed special ball skills that smaller less rangy receivers would not be able to do. The Bengals saw a guy that if he refined the route tree and used those big hands properly, that he could be a starter, but it would be a while.
The Simpson train started chugging early as injuries to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the late Chris Henry seemingly opened up a spot for him, but he never progressed beyond the No. 2’s and the No. 3’s his rookie season. However, at season’s end, Houshmandzadeh chased the money to Seattle, so naturally Simpson would compete for his spot, right? Wrong. The Bengals inexplicably signed mediocre veteran
Coles to a ridiculous amount of money. He proceeded to do exactly what most of us, other than Bengals owner Mike Brown, expected – not much. He was unceremoniously cut that offseason, so Simpson could compete, right? Wrong again.
The Bengals went out and signed Antonio Bryant to fill the void. Furthermore, Bryant never got healthy enough to play, so the Bengals had to resort to Plan B late in the process in 2010. Simpson? Wrong, again! Terrell Owens! Yeah, him! One would think this would be an indictment of Simpson’s skills (or lack thereof), but given the Bengals’ track record with management, his name never slipped my mind and he finally paid off in those two glorious games to finish 2010, paving the way for a starting job in 2011.
So, why is he on the Vikings now? Well, after a good start he got busted in a major drug trafficking ring in September, 2011, derailing his season. Off-field issues undoubtedly distracted him as he fumbled away his opportunity at a starting role. Everyone remembers the flip for a touchdown against Arizona in Week 16, but unfortunately the Bengals also remembered the laundry list of mediocrity beforehand. He was not re-signed, and the Bengals went on to add two wide receivers in the 2012 NFL Draft.
So, what’s next for Simpson? Thankfully, there’s always a home for physical freaks needing a second chance. In Simpson’s case, it’s the Minnesota Vikings, who signed him to a ‘prove it’ one-year $2 million contract. They know their wide receiver corps is dangerously thin and got even worse when rookie Greg Childs shredded both of his knees during the offseason. This is Simpson’s last chance, and that often brings out the best in people. Will it with Simpson? Who knows, but when it comes to cheap upside, it does not get much cheaper than Simpson.
Less than five percent owned entering the season because he was set to miss the first three games and only the 19th most added player on Fleaflicker this week (http://www.fleaflicker.com/
Simpson may not do anything, but he is a significantly better dice roll than any of those guys, and when you’re playing the waiver wire game that’s exactly what you’re looking for – upside. Pick him up, and if he does what he is capable of, you’ll either fill that wide receiver/flex role you’re working on or have additional depth to utilize on the trade market. Singles don’t win titles, home runs do, and Simpson is loaded with power potential.