Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is reportedly on the trading block, and the San Francisco 49ers must find a way to land the playmaking wide receiver.
According to Mike Max of WCCO (via CBS Sports):
Multiple sources tell Max that Harvin had an embarrassing tirade directed toward Frazier, disrespecting the coach during the season when Harvin was sidelined with an injured ankle.
Teammates were present, and Max was told that is when Harvin left the team and was put on injured reserve...The Vikings will try to trade him, Max reports, as Harvin does have market value.
The 49ers won't be the only playoff contender that is likely to make a run at Harvin, though. Players with the ability to break games wide open on one play are a rare commodity, and chances are, the Vikings will receive no shortage of offers for the talented wide receiver.
Harvin has an impressive resume. In four years, he's caught 280 passes for 3,302 yards and 20 touchdowns. Additionally, he's returned five kickoffs for touchdowns and has added another four touchdowns on the ground.
At the young age of 24, Harvin's best days are certainly ahead of him.
He is entering the last year of his rookie contract and is set to make just over $4 million ($2.9 million base). He has reportedly made the decision to "stay away from offseason workouts and training camp absent a new deal." (h/t Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio)
The team that trades for him (potentially) will certainly need to consider the cost to keep him, but given his struggles to stay on the field (missed 10 games in four years) his contract will likely be incentive laden.
Here are three playoff contenders that must find a way to bring Harvin into the fold for the 2013 season and beyond.
San Francisco 49ers
Ever since Colin Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith in the middle of the 2012 season, San Francisco's offense has become much more explosive. Kaepernick got Michael Crabtree more involved in the offense, and the 49ers moved the ball through the air with much more regularity.
Targets in Colin Kaepernick’s 10 starts: 1. Crabtree 94; T2. Davis 39, T2. Moss 39, 4. Walker 33. #49ers— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) February 7, 2013
It's clear from Branch's numbers that Kaepernick favored Crabtree over anyone else, but it was equally clear from the team's playoff run that the 49ers need a playmaker to line up opposite Crabtree.
Harvin would be a dynamic player to add to the 49ers offense. In addition to his abilities as a pass-catcher, Harvin's speed, quickness and open-field skills make him a perfect player to add to the 49ers read-option packages.
Imagine a lineup that featured Crabtree, Harvin, Vernon Davis, LaMichael James and Frank Gore. If that doesn't scare the snot out of opposing defensive coordinators, nothing will.
New England Patriots
The Patriots always seem to be in transition on offense, and it's not hard to understand why.
And it looks like Brady might have new faces to play with once again in 2013. According to the Boston Globe's Greg A. Bedard:
If I’m the Patriots, I let Welker walk, I don’t pay Brandon Lloyd’s $3 million option (making him a free agent), and I use that money to find the best X receiver on the market to threaten defenses down the left sideline.
Bedard is just speculating, but what he writes makes sense; the Pats need to get younger.
Bringing in Harvin would be the same as putting Wes Welker into a time machine and giving him a bionic speed boost. His speed and quickness would allow Brady to stretch the field vertically while still keeping his short, timing patterns as a staple of the offense.
Throw Harvin into a lineup that features Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez—not to mention the team's burgeoning running game—and you have an explosive unit capable of burning opposing defenses any way conceivable.
Andre Johnson put up spectacular numbers for the Texans in 2012, catching 112 passes for 1,598 yards and four touchdowns, but he has been missing a complementary receiver for some time now.
Kevin Walter was the team's next-best wide receiver last year, but he only managed to haul in 41 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns.
Houston's offense starts and ends with Arian Foster, who rushed for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he can't carry the entire offense.
Adding Harvin to the mix would give Matt Schaub a much-needed boost, and it would force opposing defenses to play both sides of the field equally, opening up opportunities for Johnson—especially in the red zone, where teams mercilessly clamped down on him in 2012.
Which team makes the most sense?
Harvin would also be a valuable member of Houston's running game, if it so chooses, and his addition would certainly open up running lanes for Foster.
Houston features a dominant front seven, and J.J. Watt is one of the NFL's most dominating defenders. But if the Texans don't improve on offense, the defense won't be enough to win crucial games in the playoffs.
Bringing Harvin into the fold would give Houston the ability to put up more points in the passing game, and the balance he'd bring would make the entire offense more formidable.
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