Harvin is one of the league’s most devastating weapons and one that few defenses have an answer for. The Vikings need to find out what has him so upset and fix it. Now.
Coming out of Florida, Harvin was always something of a question mark. He had previous issues with marijuana, and it was such a concern that Brad Childress himself flew down to meet him before the draft and decide if it was worth the risk. The team did their homework on what would be their first round pick and obviously he decided it was worth the risk.
Since then, they have used Harvin as a kick returner (where he made the Pro-Bowl); as a wide receiver, primarily in the slot; and even as a running back in their offense. He has been effective in all areas.
Harvin has the kind of quickness few players can live with, but he has a unique direct style amongst receivers that gains yardage that most players don’t get.
When most receivers catch a bubble screen, they hesitate, looking for the best way they can avoid the tackle and pick up yardage. When Harvin catches one, he instantly turns up field and lowers his head, accelerating into open space and forcing the defender to make the stop. If they don’t, he can pick up huge yards, but even if they do, that time Harvin gained where most receivers dither gains him yards that others don’t pick up.
That’s not to say that Harvin doesn’t come with baggage. He has been nicked up significantly, which is not surprising for a guy playing at 5’11" and 185lbs, but he also has problems with migraines and has been hospitalized on a couple of occasions since being drafted.
Despite all of this, he has not missed that much time on the field, playing in 45 of a possible 48 games for the Vikings since being drafted. He didn’t miss a single game in 2011 with migraine issues.
He put his body on the line last season, playing with injured ribs for much of the year, and was still incredibly effective, vying with Adrian Peterson to be the best player on an otherwise dismal offense. Despite that, the Vikings themselves have continued to limit the snaps and touches that he gets.
Any other team with a player as dangerous as Harvin is with the ball in his hands would be feeding him it relentlessly and have him on the field at all times. Last season Harvin played less than two-thirds of the team’s offensive snaps and has never played in a game as a pro where he didn’t come out. If that were me, I’d be getting a little irritated as well.
He now approaches the last two seasons of a deal that is due to pay him just $2.6 million in base salary, and he feels mistreated, both financially and on the field.
The Vikings don’t have a replacement for Harvin, and though he may be more prone to injury than they would like and has the migraine issue hanging over him ready to strike at any time, he is a far bigger plus than he is a negative or question mark at this point.
Minnesota is hip-deep in a major rebuilding project, and they can’t afford to start casting off the few legitimate studs they still have on the roster. Harvin is too good a player to allow to walk, especially given the issues causing the problem could be fixed easily enough with an improved contract and an increased workload on the field, both of which he will undoubtedly earn if he hasn’t already.
The Vikings need to keep Percy Harvin on the team and on the field, and the only way to do that is to keep him happy. Right now he is not happy—they need to find out how to fix that and get it done.