Percy Harvin has gone from the IR to the trade block. The Minnesota Vikings put the all-around playmaker on injured reserve for a sprained ankle in December that he suffered Nov. 4 against the Seattle Seahawks.
He had asked for a trade before the 2012 season, but ultimately suited up for Minnesota nine times in the regular season.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com adds that Harvin’s injury timeline was legitimate—there was actual uncertainty involved before he was sent to IR—and that an NFL personnel guy expects Minnesota to trade him for a second- or third-round pick.
That sounds like it might not be enough.
The Chicago Bears sent two third-rounders to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the services of bona fide No. 1 wideout Brandon Marshall around this time last year. Marshall was fresh off of a season in which he tallied 81 catches for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns with quarterback play that inspired a top-eight NFL draft pick investment at the position in 2012.
He turned 28 years old days after being traded, and he already takes a sizable chunk out of the NFL salary cap. Each of the four years on his current contract (which runs through 2014) is a $9 million-plus cap hit.
Harvin caught 62 balls for 677 yards and three touchdowns—as the No. 1 WR in a universally panned passing game—in addition to rushing 22 times for 96 yards and another score.
He also adds value in the return game: He’s taken a kick back at least 95 yards to the house every year he’s been in the NFL, including 101-plus-yard returns in three of his four seasons. Harvin was so productive in 2012 that his name came up in MVP discussions—and people were serious.
Oh, and he’s 24.
Add in the fact that Harvin’s contract requires just $4 million to come off the books in 2013 and you have a guy who should be at least as valuable as Marshall was in 2012. Like Marshall, Harvin has thrived in a No.1 receiver role. He’s also given his front office fits.
The 5’11”, 184-pound Harvin isn’t the physical specimen that the 6’4” 230-pound Marshall is. Perhaps that’s where the diminished expectations of Harvin’s trade value are derived—or maybe they come from his potential salary demands. The average of the top 10 highest-paid NFL wide receivers’ average salaries is over $10.8 million.
Harvin will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season. As is, Minnesota’s trade partner would have to be content with securing his services at a discount for next season and trying its luck with him as a free agent next spring.
Another—and likely preferred—option is to agree on a long-term deal with Harvin prior to trading for him.
Regardless of the route that a franchise seeking to acquire his services takes, one thing’s for certain: Harvin will succeed at the NFL level. His accomplishments in the league are obviously more abundant than the league’s incoming draft class, and he’s not much older than the rookies will be.
A team in need of a receiver should find his availability quite enticing.
All player salary information comes via Spotrac.com unless otherwise indicated.