How Does Jerome Simpson's Indictment Affect Cincinnati Bengals 2012 Offseason?

Matt GrayContributor IJanuary 19, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 09:  Wide receiver Jerome Simpson #89 of the the Cincinnati Bengals looks for a penalty against the Jacksonville Jaguars October 9, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has reported that wide receiver Jerome Simpson has been indicted on charges of trafficking marijuana 'over 8oz and under 5lbs in Kenton County, a class-D felony with a potential sentence from 1-5 years.

It has been four months since the bust and Jerome Simpson has made the news for both a flop and a flip in the months following it. While the flip pushed the drugs bust further into the back of our minds, it was always certain that we were yet to see the ramifications of Simpson's earlier sins.

It comes as a real blow to the Bengals offense as they head into their sophomore season with Andy Dalton, Jay Gruden and A.J. Green, as the continuity that they were building towards with Simpson at No.2 will now need to be reassessed. Simpson showed flourishes of real athletic ability in 2011, and while he didn't become a consistent target for Andy Dalton, there was hope that with an offseason, they could build some chemistry.

With a number of other issues to address in the draft, the Bengals No.2 receiver spot is not something that the Marvin Lewis would have wanted to be considering so soon after drafting A.J. Green. However, with Simpson's time in Cincinnati likely to be over with this news, it may be time to start thinking about a long-term solution.

With Andre Caldwell struggling to a large extent in 2011 and both Jordan Shipley and Andrew Hawkins lacking the speed and size respectively to play that role, the Bengals will need to look at free-agency or the draft if they want to improve the position.

The best course of action might be for the Bengals to examine the free-agent market. With so many young hands on the field, Andy Dalton could do with a veteran receiver to shore things up and groom his young counterparts. Names that spring to mind are Marques Colston and Robert Meachem of the New Orleans Saints, both have had their moments of brilliance, but Meachem provides a big-play threat that could see Jay Gruden take an extended look at him.