There's only one Calvin Johnson.
But Percy Harvin and his agent would argue that there's only one Percy Harvin.
Over the last several months, rumors have circulated about the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver's lofty contract demands. According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the 24-year-old wants "money closer to what Calvin Johnson got from Detroit in 2012 (eight years, $132 million)" than the five-year, $55 million deal Vincent Jackson received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the five-year, $56 million contract Dwayne Bowe got from the Kansas City Chiefs this year.
With free agency set to begin, now's the appropriate time to examine whether or not Harvin is worth Megatron money and determine the type of contract he ultimately deserves.
Harvin's an interesting case because, well, he's an interesting receiver.
At 5'11'' and 184 pounds, he's more of a gadgety, underneath YAC marvel than a traditional No. 1 receiver who wins on the outside and uses his body to shield defenders away from the football down the field.
Last season, his 8.7 yards-after-the-catch-per-reception average led the NFL (h/t ProFootballFocus—subscription required). In 2011, his average YAC/reception was 7.1—a higher figure than Mike Wallace, Larry Fitzgerald, Wes Welker, Calvin Johnson and Antonio Brown.
In his four NFL seasons, Harvin has actually carried the ball 107 times for 683 yards (6.4 yards per rush) with four touchdowns. The former Florida Gators standout also has five career kick return touchdowns and has averaged 34.2 yards per return over the last two years.
Harvin is electric with the ball in his hands—there's no questioning that. However, his specific skill set, though tremendous, is the precise reason why he won't get anywhere near Megatron money and why he shouldn't.
In a sense, a Harvin-type receiver is replaceable in an offense.
No, Harvins don't grow on trees, but they're certainly not nonexistent. Finding a lightning-bug, bubble-screen wideout with incredible burst, straight-line speed and cutting ability is distinctly possible (see: Austin, Tavon in the 2013 draft). Finding a player with Johnson's physical talents isn't.
Both wide receivers make a huge impact on Sundays, the impact's just not the same.
Numbers can be crunched forever, but due to their vastly differing set of skills and the way those skills have been utilized within their respective offenses, Harvin and Johnson legitimately cannot be compared.
That's not to say Harvin shouldn't be paid like one of the top receivers in the league—he should. But there's a vast difference between the $16.5 million per season Johnson receives and the $11 million Bowe and Jackson will get.
Essentially, Megatron is in his own wideout tier, and he's rightfully paid that way. Harvin belongs in that second tier of elite wideouts, although he's uniquely gifted and is used in an atypical way. A deal paying him upwards of $10 million per season with around $25 million in guarantees is logical.
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