While the full numbers haven’t been released yet, it’s good news that the Minnesota Vikings have re-signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who almost exclusively play the split end role for them.
Simpson is cheap starting-quality talent and good depth to be had on a team suddenly brimming with receiver talent. Simpson had been pursued by other teams, but having him with the Vikings allow them to take advantage of the chemistry he’s built with the rest of the team as they learn the new offense.
I’ve advocated signing Simpson before, so there’s not much to add—
Jerome Simpson was the Minnesota Vikings’ leading receiver until the 14th game of the season, where Greg Jennings overtook him. Simpson, previous of the Cincinnati Bengals, has been on the same team as head coach Mike Zimmer, but they worked on opposite sides of the ball.
If the Vikings re-sign Simpson to the same price as before ($2.1 million in cap space, or $1.35 base salary, $250k in LBTE incentives and $500k in guaranteed signing bonus) it should be a good deal for both parties. Simpson isn’t a stellar receiver, but he’s a legitimate starting talent that can be phased into extremely good depth should Cordarrelle Patterson or Jarius Wright take over.
Just like with Jamarca Sanford or Phil Loadholt, Minnesota Vikings fans shouldn’t let previous poor performances blind them to good performances last year (or in Sanford and Loadholt’s case, the last two years), especially as Simpson suffered a back injury throughout most of the year. He’s not a super star, but he was never sold (or paid) as one. Not everyone on a team needs to be special for a team to have an excellent offense, and Simpson can be great value, especially as a rotational player.
This doesn’t preclude the Vikings from grabbing a receiver in an obscenely rich draft, one of the few positions that not only has depth, but strong talent at the top (other positions, notably QB, have a lot of depth but not a lot at the top). He can have 60 yards a game in him, which is nearly 1000-yards in a full season, should Simpson avoid suspension.
The second-best receiver on NFL teams averaged below that, with 54 yards a game and Simpson will likely be asked to be the third or fourth option for most games, behind Patterson, Jennings and Rudolph (third options have averaged just over 40 yards a game, most of them tight ends).
Having a flatter distribution of receiving talent on the field (avoiding a huge drop between #2 and #3 or #3 and #4) can be hugely important not just for depth and continuity in case of injury, but because progressions need to be designed to increase success rate for quarterbacks; should the pre-snap read tell the quarterback to read one half of the field, and the first option is covered, that usually means throwing to the #3 or #4 option because the other half of the field had the second-best receiver.
Listing third receivers on teams makes it even easier to see the comparison. He may not be as good as Tony Gonzalez or James Jones, but he’s far better than players like Marlon Brown, Rueben Randle and Heath Miller—offenses that may have struggled last year, but clearly have franchise quarterbacks.
Good move by the Vikings.