The Minnesota Vikings released Jerome Simpson on Thursday following the revelation of more trouble for the wide receiver: three misdemeanors related to a previously unreported incident this summer.
Simpson is facing charges of driving on a limited driver’s license, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle, and having an open bottle in a motor vehicle, according to Rick Hart, deputy police chief in Bloomington, Minnesota. Hart said Simpson was cited but not arrested July 7, declining to make further information public because the case is considered open. The citation was issued shortly after midnight on a road less than a mile from the team’s suburban headquarters in Eden Prairie.
Simpson has a Nov. 3 arraignment in Hennepin County court, but with him already serving a three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy the Vikings didn’t wait to assess his status. He would have been eligible to return to the active roster Monday.
Simpson’s attorney, David Valentini, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Coach Mike Zimmer, asked about the situation after practice but before the move was made, declined comment until after conferring with general manager Rick Spielman. Speaking generally about the recent spate of bad news, given the indictment on a child abuse charge in Texas for star running back Adrian Peterson, Zimmer reiterated his philosophy on building the roster.
“We’re going to look for high-quality guys. We’re going to keep guys that care about football, guys that are passionate about playing the game,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to continue to get these guys, and we’re going to keep working.”
Simpson was arrested last November on suspicion of drunken driving. In January, he avoided jail time after pleading guilty to careless driving and refusing to take a DWI test. In return, prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge of driving while impaired.
The NFL finalized the suspension Aug. 29, after Simpson unsuccessfully appealed in a meeting at league headquarters in New York. The league said Thursday the July 7 incident would be reviewed under the substance abuse policy, so if he signs with another team he’d be on track for a steeper penalty.
Simpson also served a three-game ban in 2012, stemming from a felony drug conviction for a marijuana shipment authorities found at his home in Kentucky while he played for Cincinnati in 2011.
Simpson was still on probation for the 2011 drug conviction in Kentucky at the time of the 2013 drunken driving arrest in Minnesota. As part of the plea deal for the 2013 incident, Simpson was placed on probation for a year, so he could face fallout for the July citation in the legal system, too.
The Vikings saw enough good behavior from Simpson off the field and glimpses of potential on it that they signed him to three consecutive one-year contracts, at relative bargains because of his trouble. Only one of his eight career touchdown catches has been with Minnesota, but he established career highs last season with 726 yards and an average of 15.1 yards per catch.
Whether the absence of his field-stretching speed has made a significant impact or not, long pass completions by quarterback Matt Cassel have been rare the first two games. But now the Vikings will have to get by without Peterson, who placed on paid leave this week, and Simpson. The pressure will be on wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings and tight end Kyle Rudolph to fill in some of their production.
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Vikings release Simpson after more trouble
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