Just when you think we've all moved on from Jerome Simpson and his time in Cincinnati, the topic keeps popping back up. With a heated No.2 receiver battle going on in Cincinnati this offseason, it's hard not to think about Simpson in that role which he filled last season. And just last week, Simpson's new quarterback, Christian Ponder, called him "unbelievable" in his OTA workouts with the Vikings.
Now, we hear more from Marvin Lewis on the situation. Recently speaking with ESPN 101 in St. Louis (via Chris Fedor of sportsradiointerviews.com), Lewis talked about the Simpson departure as one of mutual benefit.
"We really kind of felt it was best for Jerome to restart somewhere else and he ended up in Minnesota so you just have to wish him good luck. He had really an unfortunate thing he got involved with last year and he got out of it and he took a hit, he took some water but I hope for his sake and for his career, he’s a wonderful person, and that was really quite a surprise and quite a shock to everyone but lesson well learned and he’s getting a restart now with the Vikings. It’s great, he’s an extremely hard worker so you have to wish nothing but the best for Jerome and that he can reap the benefit of all that athleticism that he has."
While this certainly sounds like "coach speak", there's a lot of candid truth here. There's no doubt that Simpson is incredibly athletic and he seems like a hard-working, relatively decent guy--even in the face of his drug charge. He appeared to be a good teammate, though the big knock was that he was slow to digest the offensive schemes in his four-year career in Cincinnati.
The fact of the matter is that Simpson was in his last season of his rookie contract. It was a "prove it year" for the young man and what he proved to be was inconsistent on and off of the field. The Bengals were looking for more stability at the position, and they likely felt that 2011 was about the best that they were going to get out of Simpson. It's possible that they are going to be wrong about that when Simpson is given a shot to be the Vikings' No.1 receiver, but with an impending three-game suspension and some other new receivers vying for the job, the Bengals still will come out of this as making the right decision.