NFL Nation: Percy Harvin to Seahawks

We'll be sizing up NFC West receiving corps all season after Percy Harvin and Anquan Boldin joined the division this week.

In the video above, AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley and I took an initial look at the Boldin trade's impact on the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

I've separately put together a chart comparing 2012 receiving totals for Boldin and new teammate Michael Crabtree against those for incumbent Seattle Seahawks receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. Harvin's addition to that group has the potential to free Rice and/or Tate for expanded production. Harvin had that effect for Rice when the two were together with Minnesota in 2009.

We'll touch on that angle more as time permits.
The Seattle Seahawks were not the only suitor Monday in trade talks for Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin. The NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers were also involved, but the Seahawks were so much more aggressive that a bidding war never materialized.

That was the word Monday night from people familiar with the negotiations. It's more footnote than headline from a national perspective, but around here, these are the details that frame the discussions for a season.

Did the Seahawks overpay for Harvin? Did the 49ers come out OK by acquiring Anquan Boldin from Baltimore? Were the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals smart to sit out this one? Did they lose ground to Seattle and San Francisco in the division race?

On the 49ers, I couldn't see them paying big money for Harvin given their looming negotiations with top receiver Michael Crabtree, a player the team obviously values. But I could definitely see them trying to upgrade at receiver. Their move to acquire Boldin shortly after Harvin went to Seattle shows the 49ers were serious about that.

The 49ers must figure out this season whether Mario Manningham still figures prominently into the offense following ACL surgery. Is his $3.6 million salary an issue? The 49ers also need to find out whether 2012 first-round draft choice A.J. Jenkins can factor significantly.

The 49ers will do these things with Harvin lining up against them twice each season and possibly more if Seattle and San Francisco square off in the playoffs. That's part of the fallout from a frenetic Monday in the NFC West.

ESPN's Bill Polian, Mark Schlereth, Trey Wingo and Adam Schefter offered thoughts Monday on the trade sending Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.

Polian examines the fit. Schelerth addresses Harvin's impact. Schefter notes Seattle general manager John Schneider's past efforts to chase big-name wide receivers.
I was putting together this item several hours ago when the Arizona Cardinals released Beanie Wells and the San Francisco 49ers acquired Anquan Boldin. Life in the NFC West fast lane has seldom felt so frenetic.

The charts show Percy Harvin's production with the Minnesota Vikings in the four seasons before the Seattle Seahawks acquired him for 2013 first- and seventh-round picks, plus what reportedly will be a 2014 third-round choice.

Harvin does not compare to most players. He is a wide receiver, but he is also a running back and a kick returner. He's what teammate Adrian Peterson called the "best all-around player I ever seen" -- high praise from the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player.

Football Outsiders' Andy Benoit has put together an initial look Insider at how the Seahawks might use Harvin on offense. I'll have some thoughts on that subject as time permits. First, though, I'll offer up a couple charts based on game charting from ESPN Stats & Information.

Make that two prominent Minnesota Vikings veterans who, from at least a competitive standpoint, weren't huge fans of Monday's decision to trade receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.

We've already noted that tailback Adrian Peterson tweeted he had been kicked in the stomach "several times." Meanwhile, defensive tackle Kevin Williams told Sirius/XM NFL radio that he hopes the move doesn't lead to a short-term step back for the franchise and admitted: "I can't tell you one receiver that's on the team right now."

As we discussed earlier, the Vikings' top returning receiver is Jarius Wright, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick who played in seven games as a rookie last season. Williams made clear that the Vikings have an opportunity to rebuild the receiving group between now and the start of the season, but it won't be an easy task.

"I mean, I can't say I'm just happy about it," Williams said. "Who knows how much longer I have in Minnesota. And the timing, now, you want to win games. You don't want to go through a year like we had a couple years ago at 3-13 and 6-10. Those seasons are not fun and the older you get, you don't want to go through that as a veteran player. You want to win.

"I think [Harvin] gave us a great chance to win. But, on the other side, too, the guys who run the team, they're in that position for a reason and I guess they believe they're doing the right thing."

Williams has played 10 seasons and will be 33 in August. It would be understandable if he were disappointed in the departure of a young, dynamic player. Players don't care about salary-cap headaches, and not all of them worry about the behavior of their teammates.

Many of them want to win now, regardless of long-term implications. I guess that's why there will never be a player-general manager in the NFL. Sometimes the two interests are competing.
NFL teams rarely part with highly talented young players. When they do, the Seattle Seahawks are going to have some interest.

Seattle's move to acquire Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings on Monday marked the fourth time in two years Seattle has added a young, highly talented and highly priced offensive player age 25 or younger. Harvin, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller were all selected among the first two rounds of their draft classes. All became expendable despite having enjoyed at least one highly productive season.

The Seahawks are counting on these four young players, but with quarterback Russell Wilson in place, some of the pressure is off. Wilson's addition last season puts the Seahawks in better position to maximize the value of the these acquisitions.
If you're wondering what Minnesota Vikings players think about their team's decision to trade receiver Percy Harvin, look no further than what MVP tailback Adrian Peterson tweeted a few moments ago:

Peterson went on to tweet: "I wish my boy Percy nothing but success! God bless you homie"

Earlier, we discussed the likelihood that the Vikings rendered judgment on Harvin based on much more information than the public is aware of. But those sort of off-the-field issues don't matter to teammates who want to win, like Peterson, and know that the Vikings are going to have to work awfully hard just to get back to even at receiver upon Harvin's departure. I'll have more on that topic in a bit.

I wouldn't overreact to this tweet. Peterson is allowed a moment of frustration. He'll get over it, just like NFL players get over all other front-office decisions. Eventually, we all move on.
Percy HarvinEric Miller/ReutersWhat happened in Minnesota for the Vikings to be so willing to trade away an asset like Percy Harvin?
There was a time when prevailing wisdom suggested the Minnesota Vikings would struggle to get a second-round draft choice in return for trading receiver Percy Harvin. As the thinking went, Harvin's reputation as a high-maintenance personality and the need to satisfy his financial demands would drive down his trade value.

So under the circumstances, you could say the Vikings did well Monday to extract a first-rounder -- plus two other picks -- from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for Harvin.

Under the circumstances…

Under the circumstances…

Under the circumstances…

Frankly, the depth of those circumstances will determine whether the Vikings made the right decision Monday. Make no mistake: They shipped out one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers a few months shy of his 25th birthday, leaving themselves as short on offensive firepower as any team in the league. They received a nice kitty in return but certainly not one that guarantees a replacement of his skills.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, that has been reported about Harvin's eccentric off-field behavior -- his dust-ups with both Vikings head coaches he has played for and his decision to rehabilitate his sprained ankle elsewhere last season, among others -- merits this move. And I truly doubt that the Vikings -- who have spent nearly $1 billion on player salaries in the tenure of owner Zygi Wilf -- made this decision based on finances. Over time, Wilf has been more than willing to reward the Vikings' core players. If Harvin made exorbitant contract demands, such as a deal close to the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, it could only have been to accelerate his departure. We'll know for sure when we get the numbers on his deal with the Seahawks.

There is only one explanation here that makes sense: What we've heard about Harvin is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If NFL teams gave up on every superstar, blue-chip player who argued with coaches and exhibited diva-like tendencies, well, you would see a lot more Percy Harvin's being traded and/or released. Instead, teams almost always accept those negatives because they are outweighed by the positive of his on-field production.

The Vikings had the NFL's least-explosive passing game last season and are desperate for more, not less, talent at the position. Every rational football thought suggested the Vikings should find a way to make it work with him. Dealing with high-maintenance players, especially ones with a career horizon as long as Harvin's, is part of successful NFL team building.

So what happened? We can only be left to assume the Vikings found him not just high-maintenance and not simply a diva. They would have had to arrive at a much more dire conclusion than that. I don't expect them to ever reveal their true reasoning, but to justify it internally, the Vikings would have had to conclude Harvin was an incorrigibly lost cause who was hell-bent on disrupting the franchise until it finally granted him leave.

What evidence did they have to support that theory? Did Harvin tell them he would hold out until for the first 10 games, the maximum a player can sit out without losing credit for a full accrued season? Possibly. Had he displayed rarely-seen behavioral tendencies, even based on NFL standards? Perhaps.

To be sure, there have always been whispers of suspicion about the ways Harvin conducted himself. Former coach Brad Childress openly questioned how serious Harvin's ongoing migraine headaches were in 2009 and 2010. There was a very odd and only partially-explained absence from training camp in 2010, which Harvin first attributed to a family member's death and later to migraines.

There were reports of a confrontation with Childress in 2010 and Frazier last season. Many of us wondered why Harvin couldn't play after spraining his ankle last season against, ironically, the Seahawks. We thought it was interesting, if nothing else, that Harvin never rejoined the team after being placed on injured reserve.

For me to accept this trade as smart, I have to assume the Vikings found malicious and deliberate intent in most of what they publicly explained as coincidental when it came to Harvin's dramas. And I have to think there were further words or actions -- or both -- in the past few months that cemented those feelings. The Vikings were smart to keep those misgivings to themselves, and the protection of their presumed grievances helped generate the return they got in Monday's trade.

I've presented that theory Monday afternoon to a number of people I trust who would have better insight than me. They all considered it the understatement of the year, in the paraphrased words of one.

If that's the case, then caveat emptor for the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll. While the Seahawks seem better equipped to make Harvin happy at the moment, given the presence of quarterback Russell Wilson and their apparent willingness to meet his contract demands, their situation might not always be so rosy. The Vikings have experienced Harvin's reaction to adversity -- real or imagined -- and you saw Monday what they did about it.

It would take an extraordinary litany of confrontations, altercations and mistrust to make a player like Percy Harvin a net negative and thus expendable. The Vikings did well to get what they did for him, but if this was addition by subtraction, well, that's a lot of negatives.
The Seattle Seahawks are sending their 2013 first- and seventh-round draft picks to the Minnesota Vikings for receiver Percy Harvin, according to Fox's Jay Glazer. The deal could also include a future selection.

That means the Seahawks are trading cheap labor as represented by draft choices for the right to overpay an established player from another team. This generally is not a good trade-off, especially for a team that has drafted as well as Seattle has drafted. However, Harvin is a special talent. He is also just 24 years old. That combination could justify the exception Seattle made in closing this deal.

Seattle holds the 25th choice of the first round. The team drafted offensive tackle James Carpenter in that slot two years ago. Any team would rather have Harvin than Carpenter or the equivalent of Carpenter, but that is a simplistic way of looking at the situation.

The Seahawks have drafted four Pro Bowl players over the past three seasons. All four are under contract at low cost. Drafting another Pro Bowl-caliber player at low cost would beat paying top dollar for a player with some potentially serious question marks. Harvin has been injured. He was often unhappy in Minnesota. The Vikings traded Harvin presumably because they weren't interested in meeting his contract demands.

The Vikings should feel good about getting strong value for a player they might have lost or failed to maximize. This deal looks like a win for Seattle, as well.

Harvin, who turns 25 in May, gives an already-dangerous Seattle offense another dimension. I doubt Seattle's NFC West rivals are excited about this deal. They would probably rather prepare for the 25th pick in the draft than prepare for Harvin, who is a threat to score as a receiver, runner or kickoff returner. Harvin has 20 touchdowns as a receiver, four as a runner and five as a kick returner.

Seattle, best known for building its defense through the draft, has now put together its offensive weaponry largely from other teams' rosters.

Running back Marshawn Lynch was acquired from Buffalo. Receiver Sidney Rice was signed from Minnesota in free agency. Tight end Zach Miller was signed from Oakland, also in free agency. Fullback Michael Robinson was a free-agent addition from San Francisco. Now comes Harvin. Quarterback Russell Wilson's already bright prospects just got brighter.

OK, I hope you all enjoyed the impromptu chat we held in the previous post. Thanks to blog editor Emily Schaible for setting that up. We thought it was a fun way to start the conversation on the Minnesota Vikings' trade of receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks.

Here's what has been reported as of this moment:

The trade is contingent on a physical and Harvin reaching agreement on a contract extension. You can assume there will be few, if any, issues there if the discussions have reached this stage.

The Vikings will receive the Seahawks' first-round draft pick, No. 25 overall. According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, they will also get a 2013 seventh-round draft pick and a mid-round pick in 2014. That's a higher sum than many had predicted, but to me a first-round pick should have always been the minimum compensation required. It leaves the Vikings with enough firepower (No. 23 and No. 25 in the first round) to move far up in the draft if they want.

I'll have a longer column coming up in a moment, but let's make something clear: This move must be considered the start of something else. Sometimes you have to clear out the cupboard before you re-stock it. The Vikings' offense is worse today than it was yesterday, which makes tomorrow just as important as today. Or something like that. Back in a bit.

Percy Harvin to Seahawks? Let's chat

March, 11, 2013
Reports say Percy Harvin has been traded by the Vikings to the Seahawks. Compensation is uncertain.

We've opened up a live blog to take your questions. You can also send them via Twitter to @espn_nfcnblog or @espn_nfcwest.

Update: Our Q&A has ended. Read below for a recap of our initial thoughts from a Vikings and Seahawks perspective.

That did not take long. Fifty-five minutes after our wouldn't-this-be-fun post linking Percy Harvin to the NFC West, it's looking very much like Harvin is headed to the Seattle Seahawks for draft choices.

ESPN's Adam Schefter called Seattle the front-runner at 12:45 p.m. ET. Fox's Jay Glazer reported a trade agreement in principle at 1:02 p.m. ET. According to Glazer, the Seahawks and Vikings have agreed to a trade involving draft choices and pending Harvin passing a physical examination.'s Ian Rapoport subsequently reported at 1:10 p.m. ET that Harvin was en route to Seattle and that a deal was done.

My thoughts on Harvin and Seattle, as posted earlier Monday:
"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."

I don't know what the Seahawks would give up in the deal, or what they would pay Harvin. But I think the deal makes a great deal of sense for some of the reasons outlined above, and a few outlined below.

Seattle stepped into a championship window last season with Wilson's development as a top quarterback. Wilson will play the next couple seasons under the bargain-basement contract he signed as a rookie third-round draft choice. Having relatively little money tied up in Wilson and very little tied up on the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense gives the team flexibility that won't exist to the same degree in a few years.

Harvin comes with some baggage. He has been a high-maintenance player for various reasons while with Minnesota. However, Carroll is a flexible coach. Harvin will come to Seattle knowing Bevell and Rice, who were with him in Minnesota. He'll get to grow with Wilson, who has already shown himself to be a dynamic leader.

The Seahawks have credibility in making this move. They've made very few bad ones under Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Wilson's presence as a dynamic player and leader puts Seattle in position to maximize its investment in Harvin.