We've gone over Vikings WR Jerome Simpson's arrest for DUI and the variety of possible legal consequences ad nauseum by now so I won't bother rehashing any of that. The question right now is- will Simpson have any sort of a future, immediate or long-term, with the Vikings at this point? And if the answer is no, what happens to our split end position?
To start by answering the latter of the first question (follow that?)- I don't think, DUI or not, that Simpson had much of a future with the Vikings past this season anyways. Yes, he has been having a career year here, and it could be argued that if the QB position was more stable, his numbers might be even more impressive. But no matter how well he's been doing, he's still not exactly shown himself as a one-of-a-kind WR, he's still no spring chicken (although no ‘old man' either), and he does still have an infuriating habit of giving up on plays, whether it's in the middle of a route he feels he's lost, or for a ball that might be contested. With Cordarrelle Patterson on the roster, I just never saw him returning after this season regardless.
But what about right now? In my opinion, that revolves around what the courts decide regarding Simpson. Presuming that his court date holds, and his bail stands, I think he's on the team and on the field. I base that in part on how the team handled the Chris Cook "incident" a few seasons back, where he remained on the team as the FO waited to hear what the courts determined. Granted, he was not on the field- he was indefinitely suspended during that time, but that was in part due to the fact that he could not legally travel with the team. At least as of this writing, I have heard no such restriction for Simpson. And Leslie Frazier has said that as far as he knows Simpson is playing on Sunday- the "as far as he knows" indicating that he will make his decisions on the legal repercussions, not based on what he already knows or what has already transpired.
I haven't heard much yet out of what could happen legally in regards to him having violated the terms of his parole, however. If that case gets expedited, or if he suddenly faces a situation where he cannot leave the state of Minnesota for away games, then I anticipate his outright release- there's no sense keeping him around since he won't be here next season anyways (which would be the other key difference between his and Cook's situations).
So if something along these lines occurs and Simpson is cut, who takes over the split end? Tim Burdick, a longtime Norseman reader, asked on Twitter about Greg Childs, who would be due to having a decision on his status occurring soon. Personally (and Ted agreed), I feel that it's likely that Childs will receive the full IR designation, and be set to return at the beginning of next offseason fresh and ready to roll. That said, even if he doesn't receive said designation, I doubt we see him on the field this season. The guy hasn't had a full football practice since training camp two years ago, and while I doubt his physical shape is in question, he's going to redefine "rusty" in a Josh Freeman-esque way if he steps foot on the actual field this year.
More likely, should the courts come a-callin' and Simpson be sent packing, I think we're going to see his reps by and large going to a rotation of Jarius Wright (who has proven he can play split end) and Cordarrelle Patterson, with maybe even a little Joe Webb mixed in. Fans have complained about a lack of Patterson this season, and while some (such as Arif) have pointed out that it's partly due to very bad route running and other such technical issues, the team has also mentioned that its Simpson's success as the biggest reason we don't see him more. If Simpson is out of the way, I don't see how you're not just throwing Patterson to the wolves several times a game and letting him get his additional practice on the finer points of being a WR in the real thing.
Again, this all does largely revolve around what happens in regards to Simpson's parole violation, as well as of course if the league takes action. (I'm actually surprised we haven't heard more yet on the second point.) Personally I don't see this ending well for Simpson at all, and I doubt he's on the team come Week 17. But I also don't see the Vikings making the first move, and Simpson may see the field one or two more times for us yet.