In Minnesota at least.
The Vikings are rumored to be shopping the Pro Bowl receiver/return man, although nobody in the organization has officially declined doing so. GM Rick Spielman didn't exactly put a stop to rumors during an interview with KFAN last week. Quarterback Christian Ponder referred to Harvin in past-tense in an interview with KFAN last month, saying that Harvin "was a good teammate."
Not everybody is ready to expect the inevitable, however. MVP Adrian Peterson told Paul Allen this morning, "I always feel like that Percy can overcome whatever it is they might be struggling with." Peterson told Allen. "I think he's a good teammate. To do the things that he's able to do, I don't think there will be a player to do it better than him ever."
The will of Peterson likely won't be enough to keep Harvin in purple. So let the Harvin sweepstakes begin.
The Vikings (and Harvin) view him as a top-five NFL receiver. He was putting up MVP numbers (1,347 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns: three receiving, one rushing, one return) before being put on IR after starting eight games last season. Harvin led the Vikings in receptions and receiving yards despite missing the second half of the season.
The Vikings will not get fair value for Harvin and they know it. But they might have to deal him anyway.
Harvin, if he's traded or signs an extension with the Vikings, deserves to get the biggest deal on the wide receiver-market this offseason. He is more versatile that Mike Wallace, less fragile than Greg Jennings and more consistent than Dwayne Bowe. He is the NFL's best kick returner. He is an elite slot receiver. You can line him up out wide. You can put him in the backfield. Whenever Harvin is on the field, he is a threat to score.
The Vikings knew what they were potentially getting themselves into when they selected Harvin with the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The eventual Rookie of the Year fell in the draft due to character issues, including drug use. He had his two-week absence from training camp in 2010. You also had his unpredictable migraine episodes.
You always know what you will get with Harvin. You just don't know when you will get it.
Harvin, who briefly requested a trade a year ago, is not going to play for $2.9 million left on his rookie contract. The Vikings are in a lose-lose situation. They either have to trade one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL for way beneath his value, or let him walk in the offseason (possibly without seeing him on the field in 2013) for a compensatory pick.
Spielman and the Vikings aren't going to get a first-round pick for Harvin, like they did for Randy Moss in 2005. Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall went from Miami to Chicago for a pair of second-round picks. Anquan Boldin was moved to Baltimore from Arizona for a third, fourth, and fifth-round pick. Teams in need of a receiver could get somebody cheaper than Harvin on the open market.
The Vikings are trying to become a team that builds from within. The days of trading high picks and spending big money are probably put on hold, especially with Minnesota against the cap. The Vikings, realistically, will be looking to stock-pile draft picks for the upcoming draft. Teams with multiple second-round picks like Cincinnati or Miami have a head start on Harvin.
But the team that should be calling Spielman everyday are the New England Patriots, especially with the possible departure of Wes Welker. Harvin would improve the slot receiver position for the Patriots, and could possibly be a step up from Welker...if Harvin can stay healthy. Welker averaged 112 receptions a season during his six years in New England. Harvin would not only replace Welker in the slot, but also as the featured return man.
Regardless, anybody who is able to pry Harvin away from the Vikings would be getting a heck of a deal: A blue-chip player for way under his value. Yeah, you'd have to pay him. Harvin should realistically expect around $13 million per season. Injuries are going to be a concern. The attitude and coaching run-ins are going going to cause some issues as well.
One of Harvin's biggest gripes is with the Vikings' offensive game plan: Run with Adrian, run with Adrian, slant route, punt. He can be immature, but that is to be expected when somebody this talented hits the trade market without some issues.
Plan A for the Vikings is working things out with Harvin. Plan B is to trade him. Whoever has Harvin on their roster in 2013, be it the Vikings or another franchise, is going to be dedicated to winning and featuring him in the offense if they want to keep him happy and productive.
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