Explosive. That describes Percy Harvin on a football field, and – at times – away from it.
Explosive also applies to the Seahawks’ pending acquisition of Harvin in a trade from Minnesota. This young Seahawks team that was 30 seconds from playing for the conference championship last season just added a player as versatile as he is athletic but who has also had issues with coaches in the past.
Harvin is a Swiss Army knife for an offense, someone who can line up anywhere from the backfield to splitting out wide to running back kickoffs. He is also very, very expensive. Not just in terms of the new contract that is being negotiated with Seattle, but the three draft picks Seattle gave up to acquire him – this year’s first-round choice (No. 25 overall), a seventh-round pick this year and a third-round pick in 2014.
This was a bombshell, and the single biggest bet the Seahawks have made under general manager John Schneider and a move that was typical for this team only because it was so atypical.
Most expected a largely silent offseason for these Seahawks, who were seemingly set as contenders. They had found their quarterback in Russell Wilson, they had a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league last season and they had 20 of their 22 starters under contract through at least 2013. Seattle could have gone through the offseason without making a single addition and still be considered a potential contender.
Instead, the Seahawks made the biggest move of the NFL offseason so far, acquiring a player who was so potent the first half of last season that he was mentioned as an MVP candidate. Harvin caught 60 passes in the first eight games last season, returned a kickoff 105 yards before suffering a high ankle sprain during Minnesota’s Week 9 loss in Seattle that knocked him out for the season.
Nothing is official yet. In fact, everyone’s mum. League rules prohibit the Seahawks from even commenting on the potential deal until after the league year starts today. Harvin’s agent did not return messages. Harvin must also pass a physical examination and agree to the new contract before the deal is finalized.
Others were stunned, including Adrian Peterson, the MVP who has been Harvin’s teammate in Minnesota.
“The best all around player (I’ve) ever seen or you’ll ever see! Goes to Seattle!” Peterson said via his Twitter account. “I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!”
Harvin had been unhappy with his situation in Minnesota going back to June. He also reportedly had run-ins with Brad Childress – the Vikings’ previous coach – as well as with Leslie Frazier, the current coach. Now, he gets a fresh start in Seattle with a big-budget contract and an offense that seemingly turned the corner in December with rookie quarterback Wilson.
Seattle is betting big on a player who has never had 1,000 yards receiving in any NFL season. This team that hoards draft picks like they were gold gave up three of them – including their first-rounder this year – for the privilege of paying Harvin a new contract that could average $10 million annually or more.
That’s a lot of draft picks for the right to give away even more loot, and it doesn’t take too long a memory to remember what happened the last time Seattle gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire a wide receiver. That was 2006 when the Seahawks acquired Deion Branch.
That’s where the similarities end, though. While Branch was a product of New England’s passing system, Harvin is someone whose skill set will allow him to line up all over the field.
“He’s so good you’ve just got to showcase him,” coach Pete Carroll said in October when the Seahawks were preparing to face Harvin and the Vikings in Week 9.
Carroll has some history with Harvin. While at USC, Carroll recruited Harvin when he was coming out of Virginia Beach, Va., only to have Harvin pick Florida, where he helped the Gators win a national title as a true freshman.
So Carroll wasn’t exactly surprised when Harvin was being mentioned as an MVP candidate before the Vikings traveled to Seattle in Week 9.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Carroll said of Harvin. “He was arguably the best player in America coming out of school. So the fact that he’s playing with all the top guys and his numbers are on top of the league, that’s fitting.”
And now, Carroll and his coaches get the luxury of deciding how Harvin will fit in with Seattle’s offense.