Percy Harvin (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
With Percy Harvin on his way to Seattle, it’s a trade that could be a win for both teams. He had reached the point of no return in Minnesota, and the Vikings got more than expected for him.
The Vikings’ big immediate loss could turn out to be a gain for both teams involved in the pending trade of receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.
Essentially, Harvin’s unhappiness and sporadic but continued issues with coaches became enough of a problem for the Vikings to go from “no intent” of trading Harvin to happy to take an exchange price that no one figured they would get.
When the rumors first started about the potential to trade Harvin this offseason, the market didn’t appear to be in the Vikings’ favor. Most analysts believed they would be hard-pressed to receive a first-round pick for Harvin, but that had nothing to do with his talent level. Instead, the Vikings received Seattle’s first- and seventh-round picks in 2013, as well as a third-round pick next year. That means the Vikings will have the 23rd and 25th overall picks in April’s draft, 11 picks overall and six picks in the top 117 (before compensatory picks are awarded).
Trader Rick (Spielman), the Vikings’ general manager, is living up to his billing and makes no secret of his love affair with draft picks. For a team that was intent on getting younger over the last two offseason, the process continues. In that realm, the Vikings got what they could from a trade that seemed more likely with each passing report of Harvin discontent.
They also got rid of a player that is simultaneously one of the most talented and dynamic receivers in the NFL and yet one of the most petulant. At times, Harvin could make observers cringe with his occasional on- and off-camera outbursts, most of which were likely caused by his insatiable appetite for winning. He is both intense football warrior and sullen sideline observer. Very little stops him from trying to do everything he can to win, and his competitive desire can go over the top.
From reports of insubordination during his days at Florida to throwing a weight during a shouting match with former Vikings head coach Brad Childress to arguing with current head coach Leslie Frazier, the type of coach didn’t seem to matter. What was clear is clear is that Harvin can be both the type of teammate you always want on the field and the type that makes you nervous off the field.
But the Seahawks are no strangers to Harvin. Where the risk in Minnesota had worn itself thin in Minnesota, the reward, or at least the potential for it, was worth the investment in Seattle.
The Seahawks know what they are getting. Darrell Bevell, the former Vikings offensive coordinator during Childress’ days in Minnesota, is the offensive coordinator in Seattle. He knows what Harvin is about and undoubtedly was consulted about how manageable he believes Harvin can be. The Seahawks would be fools to not have imposed upon the opinions of Sidney Rice and Heath Farwell, both former teammates with Harvin in 2009 and 2010.
Their scouting report likely goes something like: Undeniable talent, amazing versatility, incredible toughness, unpredictable personality.
Harvin, from this vantage point, is the league’s best kickoff return, averaging 35.9 yards on 16 returns last year and being the only player in the league to have five kickoff returns for touchdowns in the last four years. He is also one of the best slot receivers in the league with sure hands and a great feel and explosion for yards after the catch.
What he wasn’t? A 1,000-yard receiver and red zone threat. Not in the first four years of his career anyway.
He was on his way to the 1,000-yard mark in 2012 before an ankle injury ended his season after nine games and 677 yards receiving on 62 catches. That same unquenchable desire for competition also made Harvin, at 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds, a risk for too much playing time and too much wear on the tires. He wants to return kicks. He enjoys being lined up in the backfield. And he wants the ball in the passing game as much as possible.
Those are all great ideas and give his team the best chance to win. But he isn’t a robot, and his body did give out on him often, despite his willingness to play through all levels of pain. He endured rib and hamstring issues in 2012 before his ankle injury took him out for the count.
In 2011, he came the closest to the 1,000-yard mark, with 967 yards receiving in the only season in his four-year career in which he made it 16 games. In 2010, he had 868 yards receiving in 14 games, and in 2009, paired with Brett Favre in their initial season together, he had 60 catches for 790 yards. Throughout it all, he never had more than six touchdowns receptions in a season.
“The best all-around player I ever seen or you’ll ever see! Goes to Seattle!” star running back Adrian Peterson tweeted Monday afternoon. “I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!”
“I wish my boy Percy nothing but success! God bless you homie.”
Harvin will leave Minnesota as the all-time leading rusher among Vikings receivers with a world of potential still intact.
But it was all the baggage that created the added levels in his final assessment. Like Rice before him, who also went from the Vikings to the Seahawks, his talent was never questioned and it won’t be in Seattle either. Like Rice before him, his durability will be a factor. Unlike Rice, he offers a ton of versatility with a dose of off-field risk.
With all of those factors involved, the Harvin trade will be one for assessing throughout the coming years. It may just go down as a win-win for both teams, especially considering the point of no return Harvin seemed to work himself into in Minnesota.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.