Krammer: Jerome Simpson is worth what the Vikings are paying him
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Jerome Simpson is set to earn the least amount of money in three seasons with Minnesota after posting a career-high in receiving yards last season.
But Simpson knows why, even if he feels he earned a bigger paycheck on the field.
"I can't lie. I was definitely surprised that I get paid less than what I got last year," Simpson told the Pioneer Press. "I had my best numbers. But I guess when you got that negative thing on you, they kind of got you behind the 8-ball."
The Vikings signed Simpson to a one-year, $1 million contract this offseason after he earned $2 million or more in each of his first two contracts with Minnesota. Simpson's arrest for a DUI in November all but eliminated any hope he had of getting a pay bump after posting a career-high 726 receiving yards and grabbing his first touchdown in 28 games with the Vikings.
But let's take a look at the type of compensation Simpson probably thinks he's earned after becoming the team's second-leading receiver in 2013.
Simpson didn't see many chances during his first few years in the league, but had a breakout year in 2011. The three seasons since provide a sample size with which to compare a few of his contemporaries and the type of money they've earned.
Former Carolina Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the New England Patriots this offseason after averaging 14.3 yards per catch in four seasons with Carolina.
Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin has fewer than 2,000 career receiving yards in three seasons, yet had a three-year, $13 million deal come his way after posting a career-high 788 receiving yards last season.
Baldwin: 130 receptions, 1,932 yards, 14.9 yards per catch and 12 touchdowns
LaFell: 129 receptions, 1,917 yards, 14.9 yards per catch and 12 touchdowns
Simpson: 124 receptions, 1,725 yards, 13.9 yards per catch and 5 touchdowns
Though Simpson's recent play is clearly a downgrade from both Baldwin and LaFell, one could easily make the quarterback arguement, while also pointing out Simpson played two fewer games than both LaFell and Baldwin across that span. (Simpson missed three games in 2012 to suspension and may face another one to start this season.)
But Simpson isn't comparable with either of the two budding receivers, because he has a recent police record.
Also, NFL contracts can be based on a team's need as much as a player's potential. The Minnesota Vikings have both Greg Jennings ($45 million) and Cordarrelle Patterson as the top two receivers entering this season, with a more than capable slot option in Jarius Wright.
So what is a fourth receiver with a recent DUI worth?
About one-year, $1 million.
Former New York Jets receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested on a DUI charge on Sept. 21, 2010 and signed with San Francisco on a one-year, $1 million deal the following spring. However, Edwards, who peaked in 2007 with nearly 1,300 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, had incentives that would increase his salary to $3.5 million had he had a 90-catch year or made the Pro Bowl. Edwards was waived that season without achieving either.
Former Oakland Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former 7th overall pick, was charged with a DUI after his final year with the Raiders in 2012. Still playing off his potential as a high draft pick, the Indianapolis Colts gave him nearly $3 million for 29 catches in 2013. (Maybe part of Simpson's surprise is because the Vikings gave him a raise after just 26 catches in 2012.)
Now Heyward-Bey is on a one-year, $795,000 contract in Pittsburgh.
Though Heyward-Bey has struggled on a NFL field, he still has more career receiving yards (2,380) than Simpson (2,004) in as many seasons (5) with at least one catch in the NFL.
With the Vikings' relatively low need at the receiver position, combined with a new coaching staff, a recent DUI and the possibility of another suspension -- Simpson's pay cut is the M.O. for the NFL.