Tuesday, December 1, 2015

percy harvin

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.

When Percy Harvin suffered an ankle injury on November fourth it was the third quarter of a game taking place in Seattle.

Despite the ugly nature of the hit to his ankle, and the obvious pain he was in, the Vikings coaching staff allowed Harvin to re-enter the game and play on.  That decision can possibly be added to the list of questionable ones being compiled by those that would like to see Leslie Frazier and his staff gone for good.

Harvin reportedly suffered a grade three sprain, which means a ligament actually tore, and the team held his roster spot for him hoping he would recover in the four to six week timeframe expected of these injuries.  Each week, however, Frazier strung along the media (and fans) making it seem like Harvin could actually suit up the following game.

As recently as yesterday, Frazier expressed some optimism that Harvin would be able to do some things in practice that would indicate that he might be available to face the Bears on Sunday.

Instead, news broke late in the day on Wednesday that Harvin would be placed on Injured Reserve, prematurely ending his 2012 campaign that had him in the MVP conversation early on.

The news is grim for everyone that enjoys seeing Harvin play, but it perhaps hits quarterback Christian Ponder and his 32nd ranked passing offense the hardest.

As a receiver, Harvin caught 66 passes for 677 yards through nine games, which both still lead the Vikings.  In fact, through 12 games all of the Vikings wide receivers combined have accounted for only 68 catches and 809 yards.  His three touchdowns as a receiver match that of all the others combined, as well.

Plus, those stats don’t even begin to measure the full impact could have on a game as a running back and as a return man.  His ability to pick up yards, scare opposing coaches, and set the Vikings up with excellent field position has been sorely missed in his absence and that will surely continue.

Another thing that bothers me (and quite possibly only me) is that Harvin’s ankle injury occurred on a run play.  Now, I don’t mind mixing it up and getting creative with how you use a talent like Harvin, but I have been harping on something all year long and this now gives me the chance to use hindsight to hammer a point home.

Why sacrifice a third round draft pick to trade up a handful of spots in the second round of the Draft to “steal” a running back like Toby Gerhart if you aren’t going to use the guy?

Through 12 games the Stanford product has only touched the ball 33 times.  After a rough game against San Francisco in week three, Gerhart has seen his role diminish to almost nothing, averaging less than one carry per game over the last seven weeks.

For as creative as the Vikings are in their use of Harvin, and as forgiving of disastrous performances as they are with Ponder, you would think they could find a better way to utilize the backup running back for which they invested so much to acquire.  It isn’t like they didn’t know how dangerously thin they were at wide receiver and that Harvin’s industrial-sized work made him an even bigger injury risk than he normally is.

After an amazing half of a season, however, one of our last images of Harvin’s 2012 season will be him yelling at Frazier on the sideline out of frustration for a series of red zone calls that resulted in a Blair Walsh field goal.

That spat on the sideline sets up perfectly what will surely be a drama-filled offseason for Harvin and the Vikings, previewed last offseason over a brief period of time, as Harvin and the Vikings could very well end up in a stalemate over his contract status.

2013 is set to be the final year of his contract and he is expected to make only about $1.55 million.  Harvin has been rumored to consider 2012 a “contract year,” however, and it is obvious that things could get very ugly very fast if a contract extension cannot be worked out.

And it may not be easy.

Harvin, like many fans, probably views himself as one of the top offensive threats in the NFL.  His agent Joel Segal probably does little to temper Harvin’s expectations of big money, as he is known for getting incredibly robust contracts in place for lesser talents than Harvin, and I would not be shocked to see him demanding top dollar at the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have on their hands a temperamental player that came out of college proceeded by stories of his entitled attitude, and that even once hurled a weight at head coach Brad Childress in the training facility.  Oh, and while he had only ever missed three games prior to this injury, he also seems to be a weekly mainstay on the injury report.

Going to the internet and browsing Harvin’s highlight reels will make you think paying the man is a no-brainer, but I just have a hunch the decision will not be such an easy one inside Winter Park this offseason.

Get ready for a Harvin-filled offseason, folks.

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The inactives are in for today’s matchup in Green Bay:

VIKINGS:  WR Harvin, QB Bethel-Thompson, CB Burton, LB Cole, OL Asper, TE Reisner, and DE Reed.

THE OTHER TEAM:  LB Matthews, S Woodson, CB Shields, DE Wilson, RB White, WR Driver, LB Manning

There are not any surprises for those that have been paying attention during the week, and while the Vikings will miss Percy Harvin once again, it is notable that the other team is dealing with an awful lot of injuries to some of their best players.

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