Friday, May 29, 2015
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percy harvin

Sid Hartman, the oldest member of the Vikings Cheerleading Team, is at it again.

For a guy that normally uses this time of year to boost the morale of fanbase, Hartman has decided to pass along a disheartening piece of information about the Percy Harvin saga, just in time for Sunday morning’s paper.

Hartman says that he has gotten word from “some good sources” in the NFL that the troubled receiver has told the Vikings that he no longer wants to play for them and would like to be traded.  Additionally, Hartman says there is no way that Harvin would be reporting for duty when the Vikings begin offseason workouts on April 22nd, which is not a surprise to anyone that is paying attention.

I have noticed over the years that Hartman seems more than willing to be a pawn in the Vikings public relations efforts, and I can’t help but wonder where Hartman got this information and what motives the “sources” had for leaking it, and I find it interesting that Hartman goes out of his way to point out the leverage the Vikings still have in this situation and give credence to Rick Spielman’s assertions that the team will not be trading Harvin.

One must keep in mind that Spielman and his staff are currently fighting a war on two fronts.  They have to balance between maintaining leverage with Harvin, in case negotiations do eventually take place, and also maintain a good game face to maximize their selling price if it comes down to a trade scenario.  Hartman seems to do a good job of helping Spielman out on both fronts with this latest report.

This could all be over as soon as Tuesday.  It may also last right up until Draft Day in April, or even longer.  In theory, this thing could play out over the course of the next couple of years, but that is sounding less and less likely with every report that comes out.

Short of an actual trade, the Vikings signing one of the top free agent receivers available this offseason would be the surest sign of all that the Vikings are ready to move on and will work hard towards shipping Harvin out of town.  Ironically enough, it could be Harvin’s contract demands that prevent a deal from taking place quickly.

I decided to stay awake as long as I could during this new, weird free agency (but not really) deal that the NFL is doing these days.

I was able to find out one thing that should have been obvious to us all:  The Vikings called the agents of receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings.

Those reports come from Pro Football Central and otherwise have absolutely no detail.

So, yeah, glad I stayed awake.

Whether it be his time under Urban Meyer at Florida or his time playing for Brad Childress or his more recent days playing for Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin always seems to leave a trail of not-so-flattering dirt behind him.  The problem for the media, both national and local, seems to be that by the time they report any dirt on Harvin it is pretty well embedded into the past.

The most recent report that put Harvin in the crosshairs came from Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports and claims that Harvin nearly walked out on the Vikings after news broke that his former teammate at Florida, tight end Aaron Hernandez, received a nifty contract extension from the Patriots.  As Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN points out, Hernandez signed his contract extension on August 27th which was the final week of the preseason, and no reports of a Harvin-related incident has previously been reported from that time period.

Cole also goes onto say that the Vikings have yet to make an offer to Harvin, and that Harvin’s agent has yet to make an offer to the Vikings, but that is is believed Harvin wants to be paid significantly more than Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson are getting under their current contracts.  He reportedly would like to see a contact more in the neighborhood of Calvin Johnson’s eight year deal worth up to $132 million.

While Harvin claimed last offseason that his sudden tirade during the offseason, where he reportedly demanded a trade, was not about the money but was instead about other issues within the offense.  More recent reports indicate, however, that Harvin’s contract demands are what is standing in the way of an extension or even a trade.

Despite all the fairly clear evidence against Harvin and the way he handles himself, I have to wonder about the timing of Cole’s report and the motives that his unnamed sources might have.  Cole writes that the Vikings “fear” that Harvin will hold out in 2013 as long as he allowed (week 10), while still accruing a year of service, and aim to be an unrestricted free agent.  Part of that “fear” stems from worries that he would be such a pain in the ass when he did eventually return, that they wouldn’t even want to consider retaining his rights via the franchise tag.

I personally don’t see any legitimate reason the Vikings have to “fear” a Harvin hold out.  If he comes back in week 10, presumably very healthy, he will likely be advised by his agent that he is playing for his new contract still and will have major motivation to impress anyone watching during his truncated season.  Harvin would have to completely destroy his own reputation along the way if this ever got to the point that he wouldn’t be a franchise tag candidate and valuable trade bait.  Maybe I am foolish or ignorant, but nothing about a hold out situation scares me.

I’m not sure what the motive was here, but Cole’s sources didn’t push this “new” look into Harvin’s attitude on the eve of free agency (essentially) by coincidence.  It seems very calculated, actually.

And, like I have said a gazillion times this offseason, plenty of options still exist here.  The whole Harvin saga could end on Monday, or it could continue for another eight years, or something in between those two scenarios.

The only thing I know for sure, however, is that neither Jason Cole or his source have any idea how all of this is going to end up.

The Vikings desperately need a receiver capable of taking the top of a defense if for know other reason than to give Christian Ponder a no-excuses 2013 season in which he will be expected to make major strides as an NFL quarterback.

Minnesota is expected to make a run at receivers via free agency and also invest heavily in the position during April’s NFL Draft.  Percy Harvin remains a giant question mark right now, so that leaves only Jarius Wright as a receiver on the roster with any notable experience in the NFL, and that isn’t saying much.

Greg Jennings has been tossed around as an option for the Vikings, and he still might be, but as opening day of free agency draws nearer it appears Steelers free agent receiver Mike Wallace is going to be the focus of “reports.”

Jeff Darlington of NFL.com penned an item on Wednesday all about the Miami Dolphins and their need to provide Ryan Tannehill with more weapons.  Buried in the article, however, is a line about how Miami’s General Manager Jeff Ireland fully expects to be in a bidding war with Minnesota for Wallace’s services.

I can’t say that I am overly surprised.  Wallace is only 26 years old, has some of the best speed in the NFL, and has made some great catches over his career.  At 6′ 0″ and 199 pounds he has adequate size to be a top receiver capable of keeping defenses honest, and hopefully opening up the ground game for Adrian Peterson.

On the other hand, Wallace has proven to be somewhat inconsistent and has had trouble with drops of late.  If Christian Ponder is unable to take advantage of Wallace’s deep threat skill set, and Wallace struggles running shorter routes and making tough catches, I worry that we could be seeing another version of Bernard Berrian.

I also worry that, in a league where teams really don’t harbor two high-priced wide outs on one roster, that signing Wallace to an inevitably large contract would simultaneously be signing Percy Harvin’s pink slip.  Wallace could very well command a five year deal worth in excess of $40 million, if not much more.

Still, the Vikings must eventually take a chance on somebody if they want to make a genuine effort at creating a whole offense, and Wallace appears to meet the criteria to be a key piece in that puzzle.

I have said many times over the last few months that Percy Harvin is not in the drivers seat when it comes to this game of chicken he is supposedly playing with Minnesota’s front office.

Harvin has one more year on his contract.  Any sort of holdout would almost certainly end 10 weeks into the 2013 season, which would give the Vikings a healthy Harvin heading down the stretch towards the playoffs, and his pay would be decreased with every passing week that he isn’t in uniform.  After that he could, if the Vikings so desired, be retained via the franchise tag for two more years.

Still, the Vikings would surely prefer to sign their talented young receiver to a reasonable long-term contract and put this whole situation to bed.  Dwayne Bowe’s recent contract with the Chiefs, however, could widen the gap between what Harvin think is reasonable and what the team thinks is reasonable.

Bowe signed a five year deal worth up to $56 million, which included a $15 million signing bonus.  The deal includes a total of $26 million and places Bowe into the top three highest paid receivers in the NFL.  Harvin and his agent, however, would almost certainly like to knock Bowe into fourth place very soon.

Harvin has never had a 1,000 yard receiving year, while Bowe has had three, and unlike Bowe he has never caught double-digit touchdowns in a season.  Harvin, however, provides multiple dimensions to his game via taking snaps as a running back and being one of the NFL’s best kick returners.  There is little arguing that both are game changers, but there is also little arguing that Harvin is prone to change a game a hell of a lot faster.

Harvin is four years younger than Bowe, as well, so it is safe to assume that he will be expecting his second contract to be one that pays him in excess of what Bowe is now going to be earning.

Back in December I speculated that Harvin would command a five year deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $55 million, with $25 million in guarantees.

Now, after seeing Bowe’s new deal, I am guessing it is going to have to be somewhere closer to $60 million with $30 million guaranteed.

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