We spent part of Tuesday trying to understand the nature and severity of issues that prompted receiver Percy Harvin to speak out on the first day of the Minnesota Vikings' mandatory minicamp. Does he want a new contract? Is he upset with the pace of the team's rebuild? Dissatisfied with a scheme that kept him on the sideline more than 40 percent of the time in 2011?
The easy answer is that Harvin wants an upgrade from a rookie contract that includes a $915,000 base salary in 2012. But news of his trade request, as reported by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press, suggests the answer is not that simple.
Plenty of prominent young players have sought new deals before reaching free agency. In truth, Harvin is at the earliest possible point in his career -- three years in with two years remaining on his deal -- when most teams consider such extensions. It's awfully early to have given up on hope for a new deal, even for someone like Harvin who can be a bit impetuous.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has suggested the Vikings are wary of paying a player who has raised concerns about "durability, lifestyle and history of insubordination" in his career. But as with life, saints and sinners intertwine and produce results regularly in the NFL. It's one thing to avoid a commitment because a player has a potentially chronic injury, as the Vikings did with former receiver Sidney Rice. But if the Vikings aren't yet at peace with Harvin's character and personal peccadilloes, especially after a career year on and off the field, then why is he still on the roster?
Ultimately, Harvin represents the first true test of the Vikings' reconstructed front office. General manager Rick Spielman has the authority to deal swiftly and decisively with any issue that arises, a welcome change from the middling responses to mini-crises that arose under their previous committee-style system.
Giving up on a 24-year-old playmaker because he's throwing a tantrum makes no sense. So it's on Spielman, and to an extent coach Leslie Frazier, to find common ground that would ensure Harvin is happy in 2012 while also laying the groundwork for a long-term deal. After three years with Harvin, the Vikings should know by now whether they want him to be a part of their future.