EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings are no strangers to attention-grabbing wide receivers, and they added another to the mix Tuesday morning by agreeing to terms with former Cincinnati Bengals Jerome Simpson on a one-year deal.
FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer first tweeted the news.
The Vikings agreed to bring Simpson into the fold despite the fact the receiver is facing a three-game suspension after pleading guilty to a felony drug charge. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman wouldn’t confirm the signing in a press conference Tuesday but did talk about Simpson, who visited Minnesota over the weekend.
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“I can tell you on Jerome that we did a lot of research,” Spielman said at his pre-draft press conference. “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. Well, we do our due diligence.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people. (Coach) Leslie Frazier has talked to a lot of people. We’ve had a lot of people in this organization reach out to a lot of different avenues besides inside the NFL, things that are outside the NFL, and that’s why we brought him in.
“If we didn’t feel comfortable enough with all the information that we have gathered, we probably wouldn’t have had him in on a visit. But we felt comfortable enough with that we brought him on a visit. (Had) very direct conversations and felt very strongly that Jerome Simpson, did he make a mistake? No one is going to say he didn’t make a mistake, but also think he has a chance to be one of those success stories as well.”
The Bengals’ second-round draft pick in 2008, Simpson was indicted for marijuana trafficking after receiving a shipment of 2-1/2 pounds of marijuana at his home in Kentucky. In a plea agreement, the case was reduced to a prohibited act relating to controlled substances.
“I think it’s not just talking to the one person, but it was consistent every person we talked to stood by the kid’s character,” Spielman said. “Not standing by the mistake he made, but by what this kid’s character is, and we saw that when we brought him in here on a visit.”
Simpson, 26, became a highlight sensation when he jumped high in the air and flipped head-over-feet over a defender to score a touchdown last season for the Bengals. Simpson, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, finished last season with 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns in 14 starts for Cincinnati.
The Vikings, who have also had receivers Randy Moss and Bernard Berrian catch undesirable headlines in recent years, needed a downfield threat at wide receiver to complement the underneath ability of top receiver Percy Harvin and sure-handed veteran Michael Jenkins.
“He really came into his own this year,” Spielman said of Simpson.
Minnesota is reportedly considering receiver Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State with the third overall pick in NFL Draft, which begins Thursday. Spielman said Tuesday the team is still deciding between Blackmon, Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil and Louisiana State cornerback Morris Claiborne.