The Minnesota Vikings decided they did not want to wait for the 2012 NFL Draft to upgrade their offense, instead, choosing to do so via free agency as they came to terms on a one-year deal Tuesday with former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson according to a report issued by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Simpson is an intriguing talent, who was picked by the Bengals in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft (46th pick overall), yet appeared to be a complete bust as early as 2010, because in his first three season in the league, he only actually suited up for 13 games. Yet, last season, Simpson was finally healthy and earned the opportunity to play in 16 games, while starting in 14.
In his first extended opportunity to play in the NFL, Simpson showed off the skills that got him picked so high by the Bengals in '08 and he actually turned in a fairly productive season in 2011, notching 50 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns. Simpson earned national fame in the final game of the regular season, when he did a flipped up and over a defender near the goal line and stuck the landing in the end zone for a touchdown.
Yet, Simpson also got his name in the news for reasons that were not so pleasant, as he was placed under arrest under felony drug charges, which led to a 15-day stint in a jail and a suspension by league commissioner Roger Goodell for the first three games of the 2012 season.
According to the report issued by ESPN.com news services, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman had this to say on Simpson's character issues, "We did a lot of research. I think you guys know us well enough now that we have had success with guys with character issues that have come into this organization and have been very productive, not only on the field but as citizens."
There are certainly questions that surround Simpson's off the field activities, yet the Vikings are the not the first team, nor will they be the last to overlook character because of talent.
On the field, Simpson will add depth and talent to a Vikings receiving core that is sorely lacking in both. The only real playmaker in the unit is Percy Harvin, who had a career year, catching 87 passes for 967 yards and six touchdowns, yet Harvin is not a true no.1 receiver and is better coming out of the slot.
Simpson is nothing close to a no.1 receiver, yet he can stretch the field a little bit and posted a solid yards per catch average of 14.5. Overall, he will add depth to the team and at least give Minnesota another player that is at least talented enough to be considered for a starting positon.
PPR Fantasy Analysis: So what does the Viking's signing of Simpson mean for Fantasy Football owners? Well probably not much. For one Simpson is going to be sidelined for the first three games of the season due to suspension, so who knows how he will be able to integrate himself into the offense, once he's allowed back on the team. Missing that time early in the season will definitely hurt his chemistry with starting quarterback Christian Ponder, which can do nothing but hurt his fantasy value.
At this point, it's hard to project Simpson as anything more than a bye week filler. He's talented, runs well, has good size and showed some promise last season in Cincinnati, so it's possible he could continue that trend and be a productive player once he gets on the field in Minnesota, yet even if he does, he likely will be nothing more than a depth option in 2012.