Unhappy Percy Harvin traded to Seahawks
By DAVE CAMPBELL AND JON KRAWCZYNSKI AP Sports Writers March 11, 2013 5:10PM
MINNEAPOLIS — Percy Harvin is on his way to Seattle to join the Seahawks.
The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to trade the unhappy receiver to Seattle for a package of draft picks that includes the Seahawks’ first-round selection next month, No. 25 overall. A person with knowledge of the deal confirmed the details to The Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity because the trade won’t be official until Harvin passes a physical.
Foxsports.com first reported the trade and also said the Seahawks included a seventh-round pick this year and a mid-round selection in 2014 in exchange for Harvin, who was producing at an All-Pro level until badly spraining his left ankle last Nov. 4 in a game at Seattle. He was placed on injured reserve a month later, abruptly ending a season that began so strongly. The 24-year-old led the NFL in total yards, including rushing, receiving and returning, at the time of his injury.
Teams aren’t allowed to comment on trades or free-agent deals until the new league year begins Tuesday afternoon.
Harvin’s arrival in Seattle will give second-year quarterback Russell Wilson a dynamic playmaker and hard-nosed runner who has gained the bulk of his yardage after first contact. His departure from Minnesota leaves an even bigger void in a group of receivers that was already one of the thinnest in the NFL.
The Vikings, though, were in a bind, despite general manager Rick Spielman’s repeated declaration that the organization had “no intent” to trade Harvin.
He first caused a stir last June 19 when he expressed unspecified dissatisfaction with “some things” about the team. He clarified his feelings a bit after the season started by acknowledging a lack of understanding about his role in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s scheme.
The Vikings lined him up all over the field, including as a running back, but in an attempt to preserve his health often limited his snaps and turns as a kickoff returners, particularly over his first three years. Harvin was by far quarterback Christian Ponder’s favorite target, but the struggles of the passing attack that increased around midseason did not help Harvin’s mood.
He was seen shouting at coach Leslie Frazier on the sideline after one failed possession inside the 20-yard line in the last game he played for the Vikings. The bubble screen pass they used so effectively early in the year to get Harvin the ball was bottled up more and more, especially against the Seahawks. Ponder passed for only 63 yards in that game, a 34-24 loss.
Harvin will enter the fifth and final season of his rookie deal with a $2.9 million salary that’s well under market value. The Vikings have a history of giving their core players new contracts before they enter the final years of their current deals, and that obviously didn’t happen with Harvin. As a slot receiver, as exceptional and varied as his skills are, Harvin didn’t give them the tall, fast, game-breaking target on the outside that they’ve been lacking since they got rid of Randy Moss.
The Vikings traded Moss to Oakland a little more than eight years ago. Moss, too, was a moody player whose peaceful coexistence in the locker room came in question. The Vikings received a first-round pick and starting linebacker Napoleon Harris in that trade, but the seventh overall selection they infamously used on unreliable wide receiver Troy Williamson never panned out and Harris didn’t do much, either. Moss proved he still had plenty of touchdowns left in him.
Now the Vikings have more room under the salary cap to pursue one of the free agents on the market that opens on Tuesday, with Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace the best available but sure-to-be-expensive options. Either way, they’ll certainly make wide receivers a primary focus of the draft.
The Seahawks, who also signed former Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice two years ago, now have another valuable piece in their quest to take the NFC title away from San Francisco. The 49ers were thought, too, to have interest in Harvin.
“He’s so good you just have to showcase him, and that’s what they’re doing,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in October before the Vikings-Seahawks game. Carroll, who recruited Harvin out of high school when he was at USC, added: “He’s a fantastic player.”