Percy Harvin's offseason will determine the direction Minnesota goes in pursuing wide receivers.
There’s a wanted poster hanging outside of the Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where the Minnesota Vikings host their headquarters.
This sign is like a wanted sign for Osama Bin Laden. Everyone knows about it, but it’s just a matter of doing something about it.
The poster describes the ideal candidate to become Minnesota’s No. 1 wide receiver.
The ideal candidate will be able to:
- Overcome double teams
- Create plays when the defense knows what’s coming
- Make his teammates better
- Grow with a young nucleus of developing players
Now, there is a perfect man for this job. He’s already employed by the Vikings.
His name is Percy Harvin.
He had a phenomenal 2012 campaign, when he was “healthy.” His line through nine games, 62 receptions for 677 yards and three touchdowns, demonstrates that. And at 24 (he’ll be 25 in May), he’s young and will continue to develop with this young roster.
When he was playing, he was playing at a level reserved for the game’s best at his position. That’s a positive.
The problem is that he’s allegedly feuding with the organization and his coaching staff.
That’s a big issue.
Players have to be on the same page as those who oversee the organization, and hostile disagreement with the managers is unacceptable and won’t breed success.
Can the front office/coaching staff and Percy Harvin reconcile?
The front office is saying the right things. It says it wants Harvin back and that everything is fine.
That paints a pretty picture for the fanbase and others in the league. But no one is buying that dung-flavored lollipop.
The truth is there is something wrong with this situation. It just doesn’t smell right.
Harvin hasn’t been near Winter Park since being placed on injured reserve. He’s been in Florida working out on his own while maintaining contact with head trainer Eric Sugarman.
He could have easily opted to rehab his “injury” in Minnesota. Instead, he’s in Florida away from the entire organization. He’s isolated and away from Minnesota, which is what he seems to want.
Who would you most like to see in Purple and Gold?
But until he’s no longer under contract with the Vikings, the fans of Minnesota will have to limit ideas about Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace or Victor Cruz donning Purple and Gold.
Those four players will be the most sought after free agents at the wide receiver position. Minnesota could be in the market for one of them, but not if Harvin remains on the roster.
Until further notice, Harvin is the No. 1 receiver for the Vikings entering the 2013 season. The only way that changes is if he and the Vikings deem it necessary for an incision.
Those who want to know why Minnesota cannot acquire Jennings, Bowe, Wallace or Cruz in addition to Harvin must realize a few things.
Harvin is in the last year of his rookie contract. He will want an extension. It will be a very expensive extension. He will not play 2013 on the last year of his rookie deal, which means Minnesota will pay more for him in 2013 if he stays.
Secondly, the Vikings will be about $19 million under the cap entering the 2013 offseason, according to my colleague Tim Arcand.
With that money, they must re-sign key cogs to their team and sign draft picks this offseason—Phil Loadholt, Jasper Brinkley, Erin Henderson, Kevin Williams and Jamarca Sanford are all free agents this offseason that were starters for some or all of 2012.
They also must be wary of beyond 2012.
Jared Allen, a 2012 Pro Bowl defensive end, is a free agent after next season, as are fellow defensive ends Brian Robison (8.5 sacks) and Everson Griffen (8.0 sacks). Chris Cook, Minnesota’s budding No. 1 cornerback, is a free agent after 2013 too.
That’s a lot of talent that could be lost before and after 2013.
Can Minnesota afford to sign Percy Harvin plus another top-tier wide receiver?
Minnesota’s a team building for the future that just happened to win in 2012. While it sounds like a dream come true to fans when they visualize Harvin teaming with Bowe, Jennings, Cruz or Wallace, it just isn’t very likely.
The wide receiver position will be addressed this offseason. Believe me. That position was public enemy No. 1 in Minnesota, and the front office knows that. It knows the position must be revamped.
But with so much talent nearing free agency and much of it young talent, Minnesota will not splurge on two top-tier wide receivers this offseason.
Minnesota will either retain Harvin or pursue Bowe, Wallace, Cruz or Jennings hard.
Either way, Minnesota fans should expect a satisfactory No. 1 wide receiver come the 2013 opener.