A day after trading receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, the Vikings have made their first move toward replenishing their receiving corps. It comes by way of re-signing Jerome Simpson to a one-year deal, according to an NFL source.
Salary figures for the deal are not yet known. But the Vikings had been intent on giving Simpson a second chance to prove himself if they could see eye-to-eye on contract details.
Apparently, they have with Simpson's return assuring quarterback Christian Ponder at least some continuity with his receiving corps. After Monday's blockbuster trade, Ponder was left with only two receivers who he had completed passes to: Jarius Wright and Stephen Burton.
Now Simpson is back in the fold and looking to rediscover top form in an offense that plans to give him significant opportunity to do so.
By all accounts, the Vikings' 2012 experiment with Simpson was a disappointment. After signing the athletic receiver to a one-year deal worth approximately $2 million last April, the Vikings had high hopes that Simpson would jell quickly with Ponder and provide the deep threat and vertical speed that would keep defenses honest.
- Simpson sat out the first three games due to a league suspension, a punishment the Vikings knew was coming when they first signed him.
- Then, in Week 5, Simpson woke up the morning of the Tennessee game with a strange back problem that was causing sudden weakness and numbness in his lower leg. He went catchless against the Titans and then was declared inactive the following week against the Redskins.
- After that, Simpson had a seven-game stretch in which he contributed a total of 11 catches for 26 yards, struggles that reached rock bottom during a drop-filled performance during a lopsided loss in Chicago..
The 2012 season totals: 26 catches, 274 yards, zero touchdowns.
So why would the Vikings put their hand back on that stove after apparently being burned by the Simpson signing last year?
Because on a one-year deal, Simpson again is in a prove-it situation. It's low risk for the Vikings with a guy who already has familiarity with both Ponder and the offensive system of coordinator Bill Musgrave. Furthermore, General Manager Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier seem convinced that Simpson's 2012 struggles were greatly exacerbated by his back troubles, which for a stretch, made it difficult for Simpson to push off and reach top speed when running routes. But with Simpson's back problems no longer a concern, there's a belief he can again fulfill his potential.
That, the Vikings promise, was evidenced in Simpson's debut with the team when he contributed four catches for 50 yards in a Week 4 win in Detroit. Simpson seemed closer to top form again in December aiding the Vikings' charge into the NFC playoffs with 11 catches for 98 yards in the final three wins.
Calvin Johnson numbers they weren't. But in an offense that relies so heavily on MVP running back Adrian Peterson, that modest production was cause for celebration. It gave the Vikings at least some potency in the passing game.
That gave Spielman hope. And he noted back in January that Simpson "has the potential to really thrive if we were able to get something done with him."
The deal is now done.