Jerome Simpson's wish last year is taking a do-over this year.
He was hoping a fresh start with the Minnesota Vikings and a need for the team at wide receiver would transfer into a long-term contractual commitment. A back injury set him – and his expectations back – and he is once again hoping that another one-year, "prove it" type of deal from the Vikings will generate more production and a long-term deal in Minnesota.
"I was happy that I got to sign back here and get another year up under my belt here, get more familiar with the system and the quarterbacks and everybody around here," Simpson said at the start of the Vikings' offseason conditioning program.
"That meant a lot because it meant that hopefully I would have a place to come back to and said that I would still be playing this year coming up. That just helped my offseason go a lot better without having to stress and worry about where I would have to be."
Last year, Simpson signed a one-year, $2 million deal that included an $800,000 base salary, a $950,000 roster bonus and a $250,000 workout bonus.
Similarly this year, he signed a one-year, $2.1 million deal that included a $1.35 million base salary and the rest in bonuses in incentives.
Simpson said he had offers from other teams "but I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be loyal to the team that really wanted me. I really wanted to stay here and then they made a good offer and I just made a decision that I wanted to stay in the same system."
Familiarity with the Vikings offense played a significant factor in his decision. He returns to the same head coach, same offensive coordinator and same quarterback.
His first season as a Viking last year was derailed by a three-game suspension to start the season and then nerve damage in his back that affected him most of the rest of the season. He was limited to 26 catches for 274 yards, far below his and the team's expectations.
Still, he says he's healthy and looking forward to a return to familiar surroundings.
"That's really big, especially in my case and my thoughts, it's staying in the same system for years or whatever and not changing systems because you've got to keep learning new stuff. Then that kind of hinders you sometimes. You've got to think and I just want to be able to just play."
By the end of his first season in purple, he said the offensive system was "second nature." His goals for 2013 are simple: Catch the ball better, run better routes and earn a long-term contract.
"I want to be the best I can for these guys because I felt like I let myself down and them down a little bit last year," he said. "It was something I couldn't really control. I'm going to go my hardest I can this year and hopefully I can get a long-term contract this year."
That might not be as easy as it was before the team's offseason moves. They released Michael Jenkins and traded Percy Harvin, but they also signed former Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings to a five-year, $45 million deal and selected Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of the draft.
Simpson says his approach won't change with that added competition to the receiver corps.
"That's management with their decisions. They've got to get guys in here to help push us over the top," Simpson said. "I hope (Patterson) can come in and help us out and we can all have a good season."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Simpson seeking long-term stability
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