The Jets and Seahawks combined to drop a bombshell on Friday, as word got out that Seattle had agreed to trade Percy Harvin to New York. It remains to be seen how this move will pan out for all parties, but right away, we can draw several conclusions from the fact that it happened.
Harvin is a difficult player to deal with
Remember: The Seahawks are now the second team to have decided it would rather not have Harvin around. Seattle acquired the wide receiver from Minnesota, which was not thought to have a surplus of offensive talent (apart from Adrian Peterson) at the time. In fact, after trading away Harvin, the Vikings made a draft-day trade for a first-round pick that it used on wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, indicating that the team was willing to get rid of Harvin even though it would then have to spend valuable resources to replace him.
An ESPN report from the time of that trade corroborates this notion. In that story, NFC North correspondent Kevin Seifert wrote, “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.”
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll is renowned as one of the more easygoing, player-friendly members of his profession, and there haven’t been widespread reports of him clashing with Harvin. But that might be just because Seattle is good at keeping its problems inside its walls.
Harvin was more difficult to deal with last year than anybody knows. He has real trust issues with people. No getting it back once lost.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 17, 2014
Then there is the issue of how Harvin fits into any team’s offense. He is supposed to be a versatile player, one who can catch passes or take handoffs and then use his speed and quickness to create big plays. But the flip side of that is that Harvin may be more of a glorified “gadget player,” one whose skill set isn’t easily incorporated into a team’s base offense and preferred formations. If a player is known to be used only in specific ways, even if he excels at those specific ways, that makes it easier for defenses to guess what’s coming when that player is on the field.
On top of all that, Harvin has been known to suffer more than his share of injuries, including some when he was with Minnesota that he was rumored to have been milking.
Seattle is willing to look bad
The Seahawks not only gave the Vikings first-, third- and seventh-round draft picks in 2013 — they then handed Harvin a six-year, $67 million contract. So they invested quite a bit into the player, and that suggested they would be willing to wait as long as possible to realize something close to a good return.
As it was, Seattle got just eight games (including the playoffs) played out of a possible 23, and two touchdowns. However, Harvin showed how explosive he could be — on the game’s biggest stage, no less — in last season’s Super Bowl rout of Denver.
By trading away Harvin (reportedly for just a conditional mid-round pick) less than a year and a half after making a blockbuster move to get him, the Seahawks are loudly proclaiming, “Yes, we made an expensive mistake.” But the team may be looking to Bill Belichick’s Patriots as a role model, which is rarely a bad idea.
Since it kicked off its era of dominance, New England has surprised NFL observers several times by getting rid of players others thought the team might have wanted or needed. Examples include Lawyer Milloy, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss and, just this year, Logan Mankins. In each case, the Pats more than lived to tell the tale, and the Seahawks clearly felt that they could do just as well without Harvin and would be better off moving on right away, even if it meant taking a small hit to their image as one of the league’s best-run franchises.
The Jets are doubling down on Rex Ryan and Geno Smith
New York just lost to New England on Thursday, and now its record stands at 1-6. In other words, it will be almost impossible for Gang Green to make the playoffs, and as it would be Ryan’s fourth straight season without a postseason appearance, it’s fair to reason that the coach’s job would be in major jeopardy.
Normally, one would expect a team in the midst of a terrible season to trade away a veteran player in exchange for a draft pick. What good can Harvin do for the Jets now?
One thing Harvin can do is help the Jets win a few more games the rest of the way. For all his apparently high-maintenance ways, he does bring some much-needed talent to New York’s struggling offense.
It appears that New York is hoping that Harvin, along with a schedule that should lighten up a bit after a murderers’ row of opposing quarterbacks, can help the team rally for, say, a 7-9 record. If that happens, it will be easier to justify bringing back Ryan — whom owner Woody Johnson reportedly loves — for yet another season, on the premise that the team never quit and could take its second-half momentum into 2015.
Adding Harvin also gives New York a chance to evaluate Smith with something more closely resembling an adequate receiving corps. Even after acquiring Eric Decker in free agency, the team had little else, relying on an assortment of barely complementary pieces such as Jeremy Kerley, David Nelson, Greg Salas and Jeff Cumberland, along with rookie tight end Jace Amaro.
Now New York is better positioned to see if Smith can be a major part of its future. If he plays well and the Jets win games, great. If he implodes and New York winds up something like 3-13, then the team will be well positioned to draft a highly regarded quarterback in 2015.
New York sure has been involved in a lot of high-profile trades
Compared to the other major U.S. sports leagues, trades involving veteran players are relatively uncommon in the NFL, but you’d never know that from the Jets’ wheeling and dealing in recent years. The team’s previous wide receiver corps was built in trades for both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. And when it comes to football’s most visible position, who can forget Gang Green’s deals for media-magnet quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tim Tebow? (Well, a lot of Jets fans would prefer to, I suppose.)
The team also has been involved in some big deals in which it waved goodbye to a household name: the 2000 trade of Keyshawn Johnson and 2013′s trade of Darrelle Revis, both to the Buccaneers, come to mind.
For whatever reason, Harvin wasn’t doing much of anything with Seattle, so his fantasy owners can hope for better numbers in New York. Going from Russell Wilson to Smith is a downgrade in terms of who will be throwing passes to the wide receiver, but he also is likely to be featured much more in the Jets’ offense.
Harvin can’t help his fantasy owners this week, though, because the Jets, as mentioned, have already played. Put him on the bench, and then probably keep him there another week, just to get a chance to see how the Jets use him in Week 8.
This former editor and part-time writer at The Post is now happy to prove that if you combine ‘blowhard’ and ‘blaggard,’ you get ‘blogger.’ He previously had used ‘Desmond Bieler’ as his byline, but feels that shortening the first name to ‘Des’ nicely conveys his ever-decreasing gravitas. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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