EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Since signing Jerome Simpson as a free agent in late-April, the Vikings have shined a bright spotlight on the wide receiver’s potential. Quarterback Christian Ponder has raved about Simpson’s speed and ability to make tough catches. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave says Simpson is “just what the doctor ordered” to enliven the passing attack. General Manager Rick Spielman has been encouraged by Simpson’s freakish athleticism.
Yet the Vikings will have to wait for Simpson’s skills to pay true dividends. On Monday, the NFL officially rubber-stamped a three-game suspension for the talented receiver, meaning Simpson’s first regular season action won’t come earlier than Sept. 30 when the Vikings visit Detroit.
Simpson’s punishment, for “violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse” stems from a legal run-in last fall when, while playing for the Bengals, he was arrested after authorities intercepted a package containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana on its way to his Kentucky home.
In March, Simpson pled guilty to being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances. He spent 15 days in jail soon after. And shortly after being released, Simpson made a free agent visit to Winter Park.
The Vikings were impressed with the receiver’s skills and personality and convinced his arrest presented little to worry about. So the week of the NFL draft, the team signed Simpson to a one-year, $2 million deal.
Monday’s announcement, however, sealed Simpson’s fate for Weeks 1-3. Simpson will also be fined an additional game check. According to NFL.com, the final financial toll of the punishment will be $366,360.
Simpson still is allowed to participate in offseason activities and will be eligible to play in the preseason.