Monday, March 11, 2013
Percy Harvin: NFC West possibilities
By Mike Sando
Assessing potential NFC West landing spots for receiver Percy Harvin in case the Minnesota Vikings trade him amid a lingering contract dispute:
The Cardinals appear set at wide receiver with Larry Fitzgerald, 2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd and 2010 third-rounder Andre Roberts.
Arizona is installing a vertical passing game resembling the one coach Bruce Arians ran with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. The Vikings have used Harvin as more of a horizontal threat, relying on him to gain yards after the catch.
Harvin caught the ball 4.1 yards past the line of scrimmage on average last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That was the lowest figure in the NFL among 76 qualifying wide receivers and well below the 11.6-yard average for those players.
Harvin would help Arizona, of course, but the fit appears better elsewhere.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams have quickly gained significant cap room by subtracting from the books Steven Jackson, Wayne Hunter and Quintin Mikell. Those players were scheduled to earn $17 million in salary for the 2013 season alone. The Rams could lose receiver Danny Amendola in free agency. Another starting wideout, Brandon Gibson, is expected to sign elsewhere. Receiver looks like a position of need.
The Rams have a promising mix of young receivers featuring Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. Harvin would not give the Rams a prototypical No. 1 receiver, but he would give them something they haven't had on offense recently: a player opponents had to develop their defensive plans around. The Rams' return game badly needs a boost as well.
St. Louis has two first-round picks, giving the team flexibility.
San Francisco 49ers
The fit from a scheme standpoint is captivating. Imagine the fun Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman could have in the ground game with Harvin available to them. The possibilities are nearly endless. The 49ers have plenty of draft capital, including an additional second-round choice among their league-high 12 selections.
San Francisco hasn't shown much interest in acquiring high-priced players from other teams, however. The 49ers have instead focused on paying their own players.
Paying big money to Harvin would complicate looming talks with Michael Crabtree, who already gives San Francisco one of the best yards-after-catch receivers. Seattle wouldn't have to worry about that dynamic as much because the team already paid Sidney Rice. Still, imagine defending a 49ers offense featuring Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, Crabtree, Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Harvin and whatever players the 49ers add through the draft.
Seattle has salary-cap flexibility and ample trade ammunition via 10 draft choices, second-most in the NFL. In a perfect world, adding more of a downfield perimeter threat might make more sense than adding Harvin.
Still, the Seahawks have demonstrated a willingness to pay for young free agents on offense (Sidney Rice, Zach Miller). The team could use another weapon for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Coach Pete Carroll frequently says he values players with unique skill sets. His defense is filled with players unusually proportioned or otherwise equipped for their positions. His quarterback is unconventional. Harvin is truly a unique player in the NFL. He has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and in the return game. He can line up just about anywhere in the formation, from the slot to running back.
Seattle has a connection to Harvin. The team's offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, held the same job with Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Harvin in 2009. Imagine the options for an offense featuring Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Harvin, Rice, Golden Tate and Miller.