The Minnesota Vikings did plenty of digging into Jerome Simpson's checkered past before hosting the athletic free-agent receiver for a visit this weekend.
"I'm not going to go into whether we're going to sign him or not," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told 1500 ESPN on Sunday morning.
"We're in that process right now of just going through the discussion and how we feel. But I can tell you -- not just in his case, any case -- if there's a guy that has a character concern, we're going to do everything we can to turn every stone over. You wouldn't believe how deep we went into the calls to different people that aren't even involved with football to make sure that we felt very comfortable bringing him in here for this visit."
Simpson, 26, met with Vikings officials on Saturday and left on Sunday morning without a contract. He has drawn interest from at least one other team but remains on the market nearly six weeks after free agency opened, despite posting career highs last season with 50 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Vikings no doubt asked Simpson plenty of questions about the circumstances surrounding his September arrest on a felony drug charge resulting from about 2 pounds of marijuana being shipped to his northern Kentucky home.
Simpson pleaded guilty on March 1 and was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years' probation. He also is expected to face a suspension under the NFL's substance abuse and/or personal conduct policies, which is another concern for a Vikings team that desperately could use the vertical threat Simpson is capable of providing.
"There was a lot of research done before he came in on his visit," Spielman said. "I think from our ownership on down, after we've gathered all our information and talked to numerous people in all walks of his life (about) what type of character kid he is and what happened and why he got put in that situation and listening to him (Saturday) talk to all the people at our organization ... if we do sign or we do decide to sign a Jerome Simpson, it's going to be something that we felt comfortable enough with to bring into this organization, to give him a chance here."
Simpson's inconsistency on the field gives potential suitors pause, too. A second-round draft pick (46th overall) out of Coastal Carolina in 2008 who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the scouting combine, Simpson (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) had only 21 catches for 279 yards in his first three NFL seasons.
It wouldn't be a surprise for the Vikings to work out a deal even though Simpson has left town, though. Offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and cornerback Chris Carr also departed without a deal this offseason before later agreeing to terms on one-year pacts.