Dissecting the Minnesota Vikings trade of Percy Harvin

By Dale Casler
Brace Hemmelgarn- USA TODAY Sports

Oh, what it must feel like to be the Minnesota Vikings right now! In case you’ve been away on vacation in the last 24 hours or happen to dwell under the proverbial rock, the Vikings sent disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks yesterday for what is rumored to be their first pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

On the surface, the Seahawks just got better.  Quarterback Russell Wilson gets another weapon at his disposal.  Harvin appears to be the number one receiver already.  Harvin also brings his return game with him; another bonus. All positives.  Was the first round pick too expensive for the Hawks though?

This is one trade I can see working out for both teams.  The price was just right.  The only downside to the trade is that the Vikings lose a spectacular, young return man.   But if they can’t find a replacement at number 23 and 25 in the draft, I blame the front office.  Okay, you lost Percy Harvin.  Now go get Tavon Austin or Terrance Williams.  Heck, DeAndre Hopkins should be around as well.  All three of those options are younger, cheaper and good targets for quarterback Christian Ponder.

Running back Adrian Peterson has said that Harvin is the best football player he has ever seen.  That’s not a bad compliment from a player that just missed the all-time single season rushing record by nine yards last year. But Peterson didn’t tell the public that Harvin missed seven games last season.  Harvin is also going into the final year of his rookie deal.  And finally, he didn’t want to be a Viking anymore.  He blamed Ponder for his lack of production.

Imagine Harvin playing his last season with Minnesota in 2013 and then simply leaving via free agency… for nothing!  Instead of the that scenario, the Vikings got a first rounder for the guy.  They now have two picks in the first round and can take another receiver or parlay the new pick for an established player via a trade.  Either way, the value on that is tremendous.  I say good riddance. Sure Harvin was electric.  So was Devin Hester.

What’s a player like Harvin even worth?  The Chicago Bears  never figured that out.  They shelled out $38 million for a return man in Hester that they wanted to use as a receiver.  Harvin is an okay receiver that seems better suited as a return man.  Either way, it’s a problem for the Seahawks now. I’d stop at the theory that the guy didn’t want to be a Viking and lick my chops at the thought of two first round picks if I were a Viking fan.

But I’ll keep going.  Harvin never cracked 1,000 yards as a wide receiver in four seasons.  Does that sound like a number one wide out?  Not to me.  Harvin isn’t a punt returner.  And as electric and Hester “esque” as Harvin can be in the kick return game, he has only scored five times. I base production on the ultimate stat which is scoring.

In four seasons with Minnesota, Harvin scored 29 times. He was used as a receiver, rusher and a returner.  His value on the team was incredible.  I can’t say that losing Harvin is a good thing, but the value in return for a guy you’d lose anyway is what is important here.  That first rounder is probably good enough to make another trade with any team for whatever receiver you want. Will Harvin’s replacement be a triple threat athlete? Most likely not.  But again, what value does the multi-athlete have? In my opinion, a team simply needs all three positions.  A guy that does all three doesn’t last.  That goes against human science.

Again, Harvin missed seven games.  Is that the result of 52 rushing attempts, the season before? The point is you aren’t going to get durability using a receiver in a receiver’s frame(no matter how athletic they may be) as a running back.  Is Harvin a receiver or a returner?  If he’s both, the Seahawks will indeed overpay for him.  The good news for the Vikings, is that the trade is contingent on the Hawks gambling on a new contract for Harvin.  Again, this is a problem that the Vikings should be happy to no longer have.

I can’t wait to see how the Vikings use it.  The riskiest way, would be to use the two picks on players in the draft.  Wide receivers in the NFL have a steep learning curve and often become busts.  Some of them never figure out the playbook and route running.  Some of them never make the next step strength-wise and simply get dominated by physical secondary opposition. So to spend two picks on Harvin’s replacement would indeed be the riskiest option.  But having said that, I do like Tavon Austin.  I also love DeAndre Hopkins.  Both players could be a tremendous value.

The safer route would be to flip the pick in the form of another trade.  Many players are unhappy with their teams.  Teams constantly shop players and never make deals due to an unwillingness to let their draft picks go.  Now the Vikings have some realistic, expendable trade bait. In conclusion, losing Harvin (a guy who didn’t want to be a Viking anymore) stinks.  Losing Harvin (a guy who didn’t want to be a Viking anymore) for a first round pick is awesome.

Both teams won.  I can’t speak for what Harvin may produce in the future.  Maybe he does need a “real” quarterback.  Maybe he whines over in Seattle too when Wilson passes him up to scramble himself. Maybe, he ends up being the best player the NFL has ever seen. Regardless, the price was perfect and rarely do you see teams pull off such a trade when a player is unhappy and at the end of his rookie deal. Congrats to both teams. And as always, time will tell who really won this trade.

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