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percy harvin

Well, here we are, fans of a team that nobody expected to make the playoffs.  Now that they have, nobody expects the Vikings to do much in the playoffs.

Here is the best of the best from around the net:

Three players.  The undetermined futures.  Three attempts at an answer.

Antoine Winfield

As readers pointed out to me last night, I was wr-wr-wr-wr-mistaken in saying that Antoine Winfield would be playing for a $3 million salary next season.  Winfield played enough snaps this season to trigger an escalator for 2013, and reverse a de-escalator for 2012, and he will be owed $7.25 million if the Vikings keep him next season.

The way Winfield has been playing at age 35, there is little reason other than the salary to expect the Vikings to part ways with him, as he has arguably been as valuable as any member of this defense.  Evidence of this can be seen by watching last weekend’s game and seeing the passing game of the Packers pick up after Winfield made his early exit.

All indications are that Winfield will do everything possible to play this Saturday night, and he has also reportedly has no interest in hanging up his cleats after this season.  Depending on just how much longer Winfield plans on playing may determine his willingness to renegotiate a contract extension to reduce his 2013 cap number.

Percy Harvin

I got this question more than once since the Vikings qualified for the postseason, and the answer is “no,” Percy Harvin cannot be reactivated from the injured reserve and make a playoff appearance.  In a new rule, teams are allowed to designate one player per season as “eligible for return” when they are placed on injured reserve, but the Vikings has already used this designation on Chris Cook prior to Harvin’s injury.  Cook, of course, has since been able to return and have an impact in the last two games.

Disclaimer:  The rest of this is 100% pure speculation.

Harvin suffered a ligament tear in his ankle and was placed on injured reserve on December 5th, a time when the Vikings playoff hopes looked to be all but dead.  He has since had an emergency appendectomy.

What isn’t know, however, is whether or not Harvin would otherwise be healthy enough to return at some point during a playoff run if the rules allowed it.  Earlier in December, there was some speculation that Harvin has once again grown disgruntled with the Vikings brass and his decision to rehab in Florida instead of Minnesota will only fuel such speculation, whether it is founded or otherwise.

I just can’t help but wonder if we will soon be getting word from Harvin, via Twitter of course, that he feels healthy enough to play football and wishes he were on the field.

This type of development would prove that Harvin is not happy with the Vikings, but also divide a fan base with half of them wondering if Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman prematurely ending his season was a huge blunder.  After all, guys like defensive end George Johnson, who found a roster spot thanks to Harvin’s absence, haven’t exactly had a huge impact at the bottom of the roster.  A guy like Harvin could potentially be a game changer at any point in any game.

His future with the team remains a mystery, but I expect we’ll be hearing much more very soon.

Jerome Simpson

A troubled receiver receives a prove-it deal in Minnesota.  Said receiver proceeds to get himself constantly hurt and underperform greatly.  If that wasn’t enough to guarantee his ticket out of town following the season, then calling one of the local media’s most respected beat writers a “douchebag” ought to do the trick.

Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN said that on Tuesday Jerome Simpson, for unknown reasons, called him a douchebag and that Leslie Frazier later called the reporter to apologize for his receiver’s words.

Now, I don’t know Pelissero personally, but I have spoken with him on a couple of occasions and interacted with him plenty and would not characterize him as anything other than honest, opinionated, and hard working.

I don’t know the whole story, but I am guessing that if Frazier is anything like any boss I have ever had, having to call and apologize for one of his employee’s actions will not sit well with him.

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.

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A quick look at the biggest injury-related news concerning this Vikings roster at the moment:

PERCY HARVIN:  The Vikings dynamic playmaker only played in nine games before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined him for the remainder of 2012, as they officially placed him on injured reserve on December 5th.  On Sunday Harvin tweeted that he would be having “minor surgery” and it was initially assumed he was talking about his ankle.  Instead, however, Leslie Frazier indicated that Harvin instead had to undergo emergency appendectomy surgery.

When it comes to Percy Harvin, things are never crystal clear, but it does appear that he has no intentions of playing next season without getting a new contract.  His ankle injury (not the appendectomy) only muddies those waters and the Vikings could be in for an ugly fight and some think we may have seen Harvin play his last game as a Viking.

CHRIS COOK:  When Chris Cook suffered a broken arm on October 25th the Vikings had let only two receivers top 100 yards in eight games.  Those two receivers, Donnie Avery and Andre Roberts, were not Cook’s assignment for the day.  They have had much more trouble since then, giving up a pair of monstrous games to Calvin Johnson (207 yards) and Brandon Marshall (160 yards).

Cook is eligible to return next week, just in time to finish the season against Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings, but there is no guarantee that he will.  Leslie Frazier said that the team will be monitoring Cook’s conditioning and make a decision later on in the week.

BRIAN ROBISON:  On Sunday, defensive end Brian Robison made an immediate impact by sacking Sam Bradford early on.  Then, he had to leave the game with a shoulder injury.  Robison is expected to have an MRI done and Frazier said he will probably be day-to-day this week.

Luckily for the Vikings, they have impressive depth at Robison’s position, and Everson Griffen was a more than sufficient replacement on Sunday.

OTHERS:  Count Adrian Peterson and Marcus Sherels among the Vikings that came out of Sunday’s game with some dings and bruises.  Still, nobody other than Cook and Robison are considered to be very questionable for this week’s trip to Houston.

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A day after receiving news that Percy Harvin would not be suiting up for the Vikings again in 2012, the team got back a familiar face during Thursday’s practice.

Over a month ago, cornerback Chris Cook’s best season to date was interrupted by a broken arm.  The Vikings placed him on injured reserve (with a designation to return) and the top receivers of their opponents have torn up this Vikings defense ever since.

Cook returned to practice on Thursday, the first day that he was eligible to do so, and all indications are that he will be ready to go for the week 16 matchup against Houston.

Of course, the Vikings have to knock of the Bears and the Rams between now and then for his return to have any real significant meaning.

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