I don't doubt those assessments. It's awfully difficult to get a first-round pick for a player who isn't a quarterback, a pass-rusher or a cornerback. General manager Rick Spielman has proved he can create a trade market, but he'll have a tough task in creating the bidding war necessary to push Harvin's value into the first round. The situation is further complicated by Harvin's contract situation, which almost certainly must be resolved before any trade occurs.
There is a difference, of course, between getting the best value you can for a player and receiving value that adequately compensates you for the loss. I have no doubt that Spielman and Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings' vice president of football operations, would get the best deal available for Harvin. But if that proves to be a second- or third-round draft pick? To me, that would be an irresponsible trade by the Vikings. They would have allowed eccentric behavior and a historically improbable stretch of games to cloud their team-building judgment.
As we've discussed before, Harvin has no doubt been a high-maintenance personality from the moment the Vikings drafted him in 2009. That's one of the reasons he was available to them at the No. 22 overall pick that year.
Like it or not, part of building a winning team is finding a balance between expectations for personal deportment and the reality that not everyone is a choir boy. We might think it is each player's responsibility to act the right way, but in truth, the best teams provide a padded buffer around a circumference of behavior, one that allows for unique people to be different within the confines of the team concept. Think of the gutter guard that children use in bowling. The ball might bounce from one side to the other, but the guard prevents it from going too far.
There have been murky reports about confrontations between Harvin and various authority figures behind the scenes, including a reported argument with coach Leslie Frazier -- a man who almost never loses his temper. Nothing I've heard to this point suggests Harvin has done enough to, in essence, get himself fired. If he has, the Vikings have kept that information well under wraps.
Based on what we know at this moment, it's the Vikings' responsibility to find a way to make it work. They are a team in need of more receiving firepower, not less. And let's not suggest the Vikings didn't miss a beat last season after Harvin's injury. To me that's a short-term, flawed and irresponsible judgment as well.
We have learned not to doubt Peterson, who has said he thinks he can rush for 2,500 yards in 2013. But to count on it as part of a long-term strategy is foolish. I have to assume the Vikings know how much added value Harvin provides their offense. He is quite simply one of the NFL's best individual playmakers.
Let's also recognize that some of this issue has almost assuredly arisen from a difference in opinion on Harvin's financial value. If he is one of the NFL's best playmakers, Harvin could make an argument that he deserves elite money at his primary position. The Vikings might counter that he is more of a hybrid player who doesn't measure up financially to, say, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
That, however, is a traditional contract-leverage argument that usually gets resolved in the NFL. The vast majority of elite players are re-signed, even if that event is preceded by a holdout and extended acrimony. It's rare that you see a player of Harvin's stature traded purely because of a contract dispute when there are no underlying factors involved.
You might not consider it fair, but I'm putting the responsibility on the Vikings to smooth over those factors and accept that, in most cases, building good teams means navigating rough edges.
The only justifiable reason for giving away Percy Harvin, which is what the Vikings would be doing if they trade him for a second- or third-round draft choice, is the existence of previously unreported incidents so heinous that his continued employment would be a net negative on the team and franchise. Nothing we've heard to this point suggests that's the case. It's hard enough to win championships in the NFL. Doing so when you give away one of your best players? Good luck.