The Minnesota Vikings have traded Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2013 first-round pick (No. 25) and seventh-round pick, as well as a 2014 mid-round pick. So, one very valuable pick and one pretty valuable pick for Harvin.
The general Twitter fan consensus was Viking tears and Seahawk jubilation, but it’s not really a lopsided trade.
Minnesota made the playoffs last year despite Harvin playing in just five of their nine wins. The team’s wide receivers go from top-heavy and passable to absolutely god-awful, but they have two first-round picks. They could conceivably draft two receivers and have a balanced, passable receiving corps. Free agency exists, and they just cleared an impending large contract from their books. They can recover, if they don’t screw it up. Harvin is a massive loss, but they got a nice haul for a big headache (yes, overused pun intended) and question mark.
Now, for the Seahawks. The potential of Russell Wilson, Beast Mode Lynch and Harvin in a read-option offense is terrifying. They will be unstoppable in Madden and they could be unstoppable in real life. They still have Sidney Rice (for now), Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. They still have an excellent defense (though they’ll miss Chris Clemons for at least a large portion of the season). Harvin might be even better at running the ball than Beast Mode and Wilson. I don’t know. They’re all terrifying. This is terrifying.
But, there’s always a but with Harvin. He had injury issues at Florida and has struggled with migraines and illnesses while in the NFL. He had a bad ankle injury last season. He has only missed 10 full games in his four seasons, but there have always been question marks. The Seahawks obviously aren’t too worried about this, though. The injury “issues” are probably overstated, and though he’s short, Harvin is a weight room beast with a sturdy build and a penchant for evading tacklers.
Here are the main takeaways for the Seahawks:
Harvin is probably better than most people think.
Where does the average fan rank Harvin among receivers? Behind Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, definitely. Behind Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson, probably. Behind Behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and at least a few others? Good chance. The average fan probably doesn’t see him as a top-10 receiver.
But his numbers don’t do him justice. The migraines/injuries have obviously impacted his numbers, but so has Christian Ponder being Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense being Adrian Peterson and Harvin’s routes generally being very short. His yards per catch numbers have been really low, but he forced (easily) the most missed tackles in the league for a WR. Oh, and he’s one of the best kick/punt returners in the league. And he can run the ball. And he can do this. He is as explosive as anyone. There are advanced stats that say he is far more valuable than his zero career 1,000 yard-receiving seasons would suggest. There is an advanced stat that says Harvin was the 14th-most-valuable WR in 2012 despite playing in just nine games, and that doesn’t count his vast special teams value. Unequivocally, he was unbelievable last year.
Harvin is probably a bigger question mark off the field than most people think.
There’s talk about an “embarrassing tirade” with coach Leslie Frazier. There’s talk about him “demanding” a trade. There’s talk of needing Urban Meyer-style coddling. There’s talk of him being a “spoiled brat.” There’s talk of a massive ego. There’s talk of a new contract. New contract + ego = potential validation/domination, potential lazy underachieving, potential invalidation/grumpiness. Percy Harvin = uncertainty.
This isn’t all there is, and these “attitude problems” have followed Harvin since he’s been on our radar. There’s nothing specifically troubling, but having this many troubling rumors means there’s probably something there. Harvin carries risk. If he really does have this supposed “attitude,” it’s going to take trademark Russell Wilson leadershipping and non-trademark Pete Carroll disciplining (or trademark coddling, I suppose) to keep Harvin in check. The Seahawks were already a Super Bowl contender, but now they’re possibly Super Bowl favorites with a potential locker room bomb. They have faith in their leadership, but there’s this big Harvinbomb that will be ticking at an uncertain speed all year. It’s not a problem now, but it could become one. There’s zero certain negativity, but there’s lots of uncertainty.
This isn’t a bad trade for either team. The Vikings are giving up a risky player and hoping to fill the gaping talent void with a solid return. The Seahawks are possibly making their offense the scariest in the league. Maybe the most versatile, ever. But they’re giving up a first-rounder and more for a guy who could room their unquestionably glowing team chemistry. These moves sometimes work out (Terrell Owens, Philly), don’t work out (Chad Ochocinco, Patriots) and sometimes viciously erupt (Terrell Owns, Philly). There are countless examples of guys labeled as having a bad attitude doing great things and bad things and destructive things.
Overall, it’s a good risk for the Seahawks and a short-term hit to the Vikings. But the Vikings aren’t screwed, and the Seahawks acquired a self-detonating bomb to a previously carefree roster.
Still, the Seattle knows that winning solves everything. It’s on you, Russell Wilson. And for the record, the Seahawks Super Bowl odds went from 12-1 to 8-1 (at BetOnline) as an immediate result of the trade. I reiterate, this is uncertain, but terrifying.