As the controversy surrounding Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin reignites with this past weekend’s news that the team may look to trade him, we have something that does not qualify as a surprise. A league source has told Pro Football Talk.com that Harvin plans to skip all offseason activities unless or until the team upgrades his contract.
2013 is the final year of Harvin’s rookie contract, and he is slated to make $2.9 million next season after triggering an escalator in the deal. That is certainly a discount rate compared to how Harvin has produced thus far in his career, but he obviously brings baggage even before this recent report from Mike Max of WCCO-TV. According to that report, Harvin directed a tirade toward head coach Leslie Frazier in front of his teammates after being sidelined by a left ankle injury last season. That blowup, coupled with the ankle issue, led to Harvin being placed on injured reserve and ultimately not being with the team late in the season.
It’s nothing new for a player to threaten to hold out heading into the final year of a contract, so it is not surprising that Harvin may do so. Vikings’ general manager Rick Spielman was very careful when speaking publicly recently, saying the team loves Harvin as a football player and they don’t like to get rid of good football players. Spielman said nothing about his feelings about Harvin as a person, even when prompted to elaborate, but to me his failure to speak to that in a positive light reflects the organization’s feelings about Harvin’s character.
For Harvin to have directed any sort of uncontrolled anger toward Frazier, and in full view of teammates if the reports are true, speaks to his own issues beyond anything. It’s possible Frazier is completely different behind closed doors, but publicly he comes off as one of the most even keel and low-key coaches in the NFL. It remains to be seen if Frazier can lead the team to the next level after a surprise playoff berth in 2012, but if Harvin continues to be a distraction it may be best for both sides to move on from each other as soon as possible.
It will be difficult for the Vikings to get fair value in a trade for Harvin at this point, due to his contract status, character issues and durability concerns. Another recent report suggests Spielman may try to gauge interest in Harvin as soon as next week at the NFL Combine, but trades can’t be executed until the first day of free agency on March 12. This situation may reach a quick resolution, in the form of a trade or the Vikings signing Harvin to a contract extension, but I think it’s more likely things linger into training camp or even the start of the regular season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.