Back in April The Sporting News decided to dig into the past and expose some not-so-flattering stories about Percy Harvin, Urban Meyer, and the Florida program in general. Their findings illuminated Harvin as an entitled young man with a short temper.
At the time, the piece had the feel of a hit job of sorts, and many questioned the odd timing of this information coming out.
With a recent report from 1500 ESPN describing yet another confrontation between the uber-talented receiver and his current coach, Harvin’s status as a Viking is yet again being called into question.
Reports of the past have included throwing a college coach on the ground and putting hands around his neck, testing positive for marijuana prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, throwing a weight at former head coach Brad Childress, and requesting a trade prior to this season before performing a sudden about-face. That list would be enough to call any player unreliable, and we haven’t even started talking about his long list of injury and health issues.
Some Vikings fans are going to want to bury memories of Randy Moss departing Minnesota (twice) in their subconscious and assume the Vikings will “pay the man” and that Harvin will get a deal that makes him a Viking for life.
The phrase “where there is smoke there is fire” comes to mind, however. And the player that has earned the nickname “Cheech” in this corner of the internet seems to always be surrounded by plenty of smoke.
Still, lots of options exist for how this could play out and I want to take a second to look at each one (and there could be more) in great detail.
Pay The Man
The Vikings may never be certain that they have made Harvin permanently happy in Minnesota, but they can always try and then hope for the best, and the best way to do that is by getting out the checkbook.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal Harvin is set to make a paltry $1.55 million in 2013. Considering the impact he can have on a football game, and his particular need for long term financial security as an injury prone player, it isn’t surprising that Harvin would be willing to go to battle against the Vikings front office in an effort to get guaranteed money.
The question facing the Vikings will be just how much money they are willing to pay their 24 year old game changer. Agent Joel Segal has been known to milk team’s for all they are worth in regards to his top clients. Evidence in this can be found in the contracts for Michael Vick (6 years, $100 million), Chris Johnson (6 year, $55 million), and DeAngelo Hall (6 year, $55 million).
More specifically, Segal raided plenty of coffers with receivers of lesser talent than Harvin which include Josh Morgan (2 years, $11.5 million), Marques Colston (5 years, $36.3 million), and Pierre Garcon (5 years, $42.5 million). Each of these contracts came with considerable, to say the least, guarantees.
He’s been at it for a long time, too, and in 1999 he made Antonio Freeman the highest paid receiver in NFL history with a seven year deal worth $42 million.
I suspect Harvin, on a five year deal, would demand somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 million with about $25 million guaranteed. That is a hefty price indeed, but one the Vikings might have to pay if they don’t want to reduce their receiver group down to absolutely nothing, a possibility that both Harvin and his agent are well aware of.
The thing to keep in mind about taking on that big of a cap hit for Harvin is that there really is no team in the NFL that can, or does, pay two big money receivers. With the Vikings obviously needing help at the position, a blockbuster contract for Harvin would be quite the commitment to him and an acceptance that any other real help is going to have to come in the NFL Draft or in the form of low-cost free agent fliers.
Send Him Elsewhere
If the Vikings aren’t willing to “pay the man” then somebody else will be. In fact, not only would another team be willing to write him a massive check, they’d be willing to send plenty of payment towards the Vikings, too.
If the Vikings decide that Harvin is causing more headaches than he is worth, and that they can find offensive weapons elsewhere, then it isn’t totally out of the question that a deal could get done. The question, as always, would be what type of compensation the team might expect in return.
One of the most recent trades involving an incredibly talented, yet consistently troubled, wide out was just this last offseason when Miami shipped Brandon Marshall to Chicago. In return for the 28 year old talent, Miami only got a pair of third round draft picks.
It could be argued that Marshall is more valuable than Harvin as a pure #1 reciever, sure, but Harvin’s youth and versatility would boost his stock. Plus, while Harvin’s injury and health woes are well documented, it doesn’t seem like he is nearly as far off the deep end as Marshall has been in the past.
Still, the Vikings would surely be wanting to begin any trade talks by asking interested parties one question: Where are you drafting in the first round? They have more leverage (I’ll explain more in a second) than Miami did with Marshall, but Vikings fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high that the pick compensation would be monstrous.
New England has been thrown around as a possible landing spot for Harvin should he be traded, as Wes Welker seems sure to be leaving, but the truth is that all 31 teams should probably be interested. I imagine there would be a large market for Rick Spielman to work.
Let It Get Ugly
To be honest, either of the two options above would be preferable to this one, but it exists none-the-less.
Harvin is under contract through 2013 and the Vikings could easily afford his salary if they wanted to force the issue. They could refuse Segal’s top dollar demands while also refusing to discuss trade options, and simply sit on the surely disgruntled receiver’s rights until something breaks.
This would seem certain to end up as a holdout situation if the Vikings go down this road which could end up producing a couple of opportunities. Either a contender suffers an injury to their top offensive threat and is willing to shell out a bunch of picks for Harvin, or he simply caves on his demands and shows up to Winter Park one day in mid-season.
That could end up being a lose-lose situation as the Vikings could simply lose all of their leverage in both contract negotiations and trade talks, while Harvin is once again destined to be painted as a diva by the national media. If it got to that point, things could get really ugly for both sides.
Then again, a player like Harvin seems less likely than most to play a whole season of football, so getting him back mid-season on the cheap for one season may not be the worst scenario in the world for Minnesota. If he walked the next season they could not get more than a third round compensatory pick for him, unless the franchise tag is involved, but perhaps they’re willing to risk that in return for half a season’s worth of service.
Too Early To Tell
It is too early to tell exactly how this will shake out. While things always have a weird feel to them when Harvin is involved, at least we do know that things would have to get crazy bizarre for the team to cut him outright and get nothing in return.
Instead, we are probably looking at speculation and rumors between now and March (or longer), which will provide the readers here with an equal share of entertainment and frustration.
That maybe sums up Percy Harvin perfectly to me: entertainment and frustration.
Yup, that sounds about right.