Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


The latest on Jerome Simpson and the Vikings

Posted by: under Vikings Updated: April 23, 2012 - 8:04 AM

Make no mistake, Jerome Simpson’s weekend visit with the Vikings in the Twin Cities went incredibly well. The talented wide receiver liked what he heard about his chances to flourish in a significant role here. The Vikings, meanwhile, felt more and more comfortable as they got to know Simpson better.

So now what’s next for the free agent receiver and the rebuilding team in need of more playmakers for the passing game? A thing or two may develop Monday with Simpson and the Vikings both trying to determine if they can have a productive future together.

Last year in Cincinnati, Simpson showed flashes of his potential. He had 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns, including this gymnastic-style score against Arizona on Christmas Eve.

Simpson’s best game was an eight-catch, 152-yard outburst in a 31-24 loss at Baltimore in November.

As for the risk and potential baggage of signing Simpson? At present, one major wild card in the whole situation is the NFL’s indefinite timetable for issuing a disciplinary punishment to Simpson for his recent legal troubles. Last fall, the talented receiver found himself in hot water after a package being sent from California to his home in Kentucky was intercepted and found to contain 2.5 of marijuana.

Simpson was originally indicted on a felony trafficking charge. But in a plea agreement last month, he plead to a lesser felony of being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail plus three years of probation, given some lenience from the sentencing judge who could have issued four times as much jail time.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Simpson’s situation remains “under review” by the league, which could issue a suspension for the receiver’s violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. The severity of the punishment, obviously, is something the Vikings would like to know more about. And certainly knowing a timetable for that ruling would be helpful.

But as general manager Rick Spielman and his staff have done their due diligence in researching Simpson’s background and character in recent weeks, they have heard glowing reviews from those around the receiver.

Marvin Lewis, Simpson’s head coach with the Bengals, wrote a letter to the sentencing judge on the receiver’s behalf earlier this spring. Others have spoke in glowing terms of Simpson’s laidback and caring nature and the abundance of charitable work he has been involved with during his NFL career.

Those are things that will help the Vikings measure the ultimate risk of uniting with Simpson. From a talent standpoint, he certainly fits the mold for the kind of rebuilding pieces Spielman is attempting to acquire. Simpson is young, has plenty of potential and now finds himself in a situation where he is hungry to prove himself. Stay tuned.

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