The Vikings aren't commenting publicly on whether or not Jerome Simpson will be suspended by the NFL to start the season, but Simpson said his run-ins with the law over the last few years are keeping him from getting a multi-year contract.
Simpson avoided jail time in early January when he pleaded guilty to careless driving and refusing to take a DWI test after being stopped in November 2013. In return, prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired. He was ordered to do 120 hours of community service in public schools. He also was required to attend alcohol seminars and will be on probation for a year.
When the Vikings initially signed Simpson to a one-year contract in 2012, he was handed a three-game suspension to start the season for an arrest in Kentucky when police found more than two pounds of marijuana had been shipped to his house.
Simpson is likely right in his assessment that his legal troubles have kept the Vikings from committing to him beyond back-to-back one-year contracts for him.
"I'm definitely a multi-year type of receiver. It's just been some little situations that I've cause myself for me not to get a multi-year contract," he said. "But I feel I definitely deserve to have one because I've always worked hard. The second-leading receiver here last year and before that I was the first-leading receiver before I got into my little situation. Everything happens for a reason and I'm just going to keep working hard. When I do get that deal I'm going to still work as hard – even more. I've got to stay clean and just play football and have fun."
Simpson's trouble at his home in Kentucky took place when he was with the Bengals at a time that Mike Zimmer was their defensive coordinator. A couple months after Zimmer was hired as the Vikings' head coach, Simpson was signed to his second one-year contract with the Vikings in March.
"Jerome's always been a great athlete. He can run like crazy. He's catching the ball well," Zimmer said. "When he was in Cincinnati the first few years he was basically in this same type of offense so he has a little bit better grasp on things than some of the guys just having a little bit of background in it. But he's a guy that can stretch the field and he's doing a lot of really good things."
With Greg Jennings signing a five-year contract with a maximum value of $47.5 million two days after Simpson was re-signed last year and the Vikings then drafting Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round a month later, Simpson's value to the Vikings fell slightly.
But, despite the trouble he got into last year, he still managed to catch 48 passes for 728 yards – both marks that were second on the team behind Jennings. However, only 15 of his catches last year and 235 of his yards came in the final seven games, after he was arrested for probable cause DWI.
Simpson said the Vikings have "stayed behind" him during his troubled times.
"They know I'm not a trouble-maker. It's kind of an unfortunate situation what happened the last time, but they always believed in me," Simpson said. "Throughout the offseason they were saying they wanted to bring me back in because I wanted to be here. I just want to play for this team and especially these coaches and my teammates and just prosper."
He said he has learned from his mistakes and knows how he will handle the situation differently in the future.
"Just making smart decisions," he said. "If I ever do get in a situation like that, making phone calls and just using the services that we have here."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Simpson: ‘I've got to stay clean'
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