“No intent” isn’t the same thing as “not going to happen.”
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has made a habit of telling all interested parties that he has “no intent to trade Percy Harvin” (from ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert). Of course, his unwillingness to trade Harvin could simply be due to the fact that he hasn’t heard what he perceives to be the right offer.
A similar situation occurred with a potential MVP candidate in the NBA realm. Plenty of suitors and trade scenarios swirled around Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said that he wouldn’t be moved, and that was that (from Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com):
We've been very consistent. We're not trading Dwight Howard. ... He will not be traded, and there's nothing that anybody can do today to call me today and ask me, 'Would you do this?' and get a positive result.
The NBA trading deadline passed on Feb. 21. Howard is still in a Lakers uniform.
The man in charge of executing the corresponding move in Harvin’s case hasn’t been as definitive. Minnesota’s dilemma is that it has one of the NFL’s top young talents at wide receiver—with a skill set that should interest any GM—but he is disgruntled and entering the final year on his rookie contract.
This is about leverage.
Harvin’s resume and film speak for themselves. In 2012, he caught 62 balls for 677 yards and three touchdowns while playing just nine games. All in all, he totaled 1,347 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns—good for an average of 149.7 yards per game.
The collegiate prospects entering the 2013 NFL draft at the wide receiver position are not as lauded as Harvin, A.J. Green, Justin Blackmon or Julio Jones. Unless the 2013 draft bears similarity to the 2008 NFL draft, however, somebody is going to take a wideout in the first round.
Donnie Avery was the first receiver off the board in 2008, going to the St. Louis Rams as the second player selected in the second round (33rd overall). Jordy Nelson (36th to the Green Bay Packers), DeSean Jackson (49th, Philadelphia Eagles) and Minnesota’s own Jerome Simpson (46th, Cincinnati Bengals) were three of the 10 receivers drafted in a span of 25 picks.
High draft picks are going to be used on receivers with varying degrees of upside, but teams are already aware of what Harvin can do. He should at least warrant a first-round draft choice in a trade based on talent alone.
His past episodes with coaches, elevated level of salary (compared to incoming rookies) and potential for an offseason contract dispute bring his trade value down. The Vikings are well within their right to wait out an offer of a No. 1 pick—whether it’s standalone or accompanied by a later selection. Even if they invest it in a slot receiver to replace Harvin in the lineup, they’ll essentially be betting that the rookie will be as electric as the guy they already have.
The compensation for that risk would come in the form of millions of dollars of financial relief in the event that they re-sign him and potentially fewer player/coach conflicts.
But will a trade be worth it?
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