Despite conflicting reports, Vikings’ GM Rick Spielman suggested that wide receiver Jerome Simpson will begin the season as the team’s starting split end, meaning the team is unlikely to add another big-name wide receiver on the outside.
Simpson racked up just 26 catches and 274 yards in an injury-shortened 2012 season, but the 27-year old did collect 50 catches for over 700 yards with Cincinnati the year before.. Simpson possesses freakish athleticism, as evidenced by his highlight-reel backflip touchdown against the Cardinals in 2011.
The team already added former Green Bay Packers’ wideout Greg Jennings, so Spielman seems to be saying the team is content with Jennings and Simpson on the outside for third-year quarterback Christian Ponder. However, the team still has a huge hole in the slot from the trade of Percy Harvin, so Minnesota may still explore opportunities to fill that slot.
The most simple way to satisfy that need would be through the draft, where West Virginia’s Tavon Austin would be a perfect fit. Armed with both the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round this April, the team would be thrilled to use one of those selections on the West Virginia speedster. Austin has been shooting up draft boards lately, so Minnesota may need to package those selections to move up and select their new slot man.
Another way to fill the slot would be to sign Giants’ restricted wide receiver Victor Cruz. The team could conceivably choose to sign Cruz to an offer, but would be forced to give up one of their first round selections to the Giants in return. Whether it be Cruz, Austin, or someone else, expect the Vikings to explore multiple options in filling holes around reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson.