Wouldn’t it be nice if it were really that easy?
The logistical gymnastics involved in completing an NFL trade make any article like this a far-fetched proposition. With that said, I’m fully convinced that the Vikings are done with Percy Harvin, and with one year left on his rookie contract, that leaves the team with only one option—the rare and elusive blockbuster trade.
The friction between Harvin and the coaching staff is palpable. It’s one thing to hurl a weight at Brad Childress after he cuts Randy Moss. Most Vikings fans actually supported this action.
However, as beat writer Judd Zulgad noted on ESPN 1500 yesterday, “when you can’t coexist with Leslie Frazier, you have a personality problem.”
Zulgad also noted that, in one month with the team (in 2010), Randy Moss “helped shape how Percy Harvin sees the world, and that’s not a very good thing.” Indeed, Harvin worshiped Moss, a major red flag in hindsight.
Harvin’s ongoing discontentment over the years has, for the most part, stayed just below the radar. But it’s always been there, and it appears that the water surrounding the iceberg is rapidly receding.
There’s been plenty of speculation that Harvin’s season-ending stint on the I.R. (which began December 5th ) was not entirely injury related, and he’s been in Florida ever since. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and all indications are that bridges have been burned.
Harvin requested a trade last offseason already, and a bold move certainly wouldn’t be without recent precedent. Jared Allen and Moss were each acquired for draft picks, and the Brett Favre saga proved that no roster move is outside the realm of possibility for this team.
Why it works for the Vikings:
The Vikings would surely need to include a draft pick in a Harvin-for-Fitzgerald trade, but in return, they’d be getting a true, elite-level No. 1 receiver who’s still in his prime production window (he’ll be 30 in August).
Fitzgerald would give Adrian Peterson some reprieve from exorbitant defensive attention, and Christian Ponder—who the team is hitched to for better or worse—the best possible opportunity to succeed.
Fitzgerald would also bring the kind of character, work ethic and mentorship that Leslie Frazier & Co. covets. Of course, he makes a boatload of money, so this is where Rob Brzezinski—widely viewed as one of the best capologists in the NFL—would need to work his magic. While Fitzgerald's age may cause some to view this as a shortsighted move, the team proved this year that they’re closer than we thought. With Adrian Peterson turning 28 and coming off a career-high 411 touches, the window is now.
Why it works for Fitzgerald:
It’s too good to be true for Fitzgerald. The Minneapolis native spent his teen years shadowing Cris Carter and Randy Moss as a Vikings ball boy, and he’d be leaving a five-win disaster for a playoff team.
Christian Ponder offers an upgrade over anything in Arizona, and Fitzgerald would benefit from the defensive attention Peterson demands.
Why it works for Arizona:
Harvin might be the most uniquely gifted offensive player in the NFL, and at just 24, would pair with Michael Floyd to give the Cardinals a young, talented inside-outside combo for years to come. Hell, he’d be their best running back, too, and would combine with Patrick Peterson to give special teams coaches nightmares.
Arizona knows first-hand how difficult Harvin is to game plan for—they’ve faced the Vikings in each of Harvin’s four seasons, and he’s scored and/or topped 120 yards in three of the contests.
Harvin’s contract (which would obviously need to be addressed in conjunction with the trade) would give the team more room than Fitzgerald’s, and the extra draft pick would be invaluable currency for a team with so many holes.
Arizona is wasting Fitzgerald, and trading him would kick-start the rebuild.
Why it works for Harvin:
This is the tricky part, because Harvin’s not an easy guy to please. However, the trade would presumably result in him landing the fat new contract he’s after (no team is going to trade for him without a long-term deal in place, for risk of him walking in 2014).
Harvin’s obviously not happy with his situation and relationships in Minnesota, so a change of scenery (and climate) should hold some appeal as well.
I’d be very surprised if Harvin ever plays another down in purple. A trade to Arizona would be a win-win-win-win situation.