For the second time in his young career, Percy Harvin has been traded. After being dealt to Seattle from Minnesota for picks in the first, third, and seventh rounds of the 2013 draft, the Seahawks have quickly and suddenly reversed course and sent Harvin to the New York Jets in exchange for a conditional mid-round pick.
It is difficult to make sense of the Seahawks’ decision to so quickly give up on Harvin, a proven playmaker and probably the most talented member of the Seattle receiving corps, but as more and more details emerge, it becomes ever clearer that Harvin had to go.
Talent-wise, Harvin is a playmaking, dynamic wideout in the prime of his career with special team abilities, but beneath the talent, and unknown to most until now, Harvin was a problem in the locker room, on the practice field, on the sidelines—basically everywhere.
Initially the trade was reported to be a result of Harvin “not fitting” the Seahawks’ run-heavy offensive scheme—which is true, but not the whole truth. In the 24 hours following the trade, damning reports about Harvin’s attitude began to permeate the Internet. Among the most notable incidents are fistfights with former Seahawk teammates Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, and, most recently, a blatant refusal to re-enter last week’s contest with Dallas in the fourth quarter—presumably because he was upset about his usage in the game up to that point.
Consider also that Harvin missed most of his first season with Seattle with a hip injury, and that he has only played eight games total for the Seahawks. He only played on about 60 percent of offensive snaps, and yet got superstar-level pay for a role that did not even fit Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme.
With that knowledge, it seems lucky for Seattle that they were even able to execute a trade for Harvin. It also speaks to the desperation level of the Jets organization, in that they were willing to take on a personality—and contract—like Harvin’s at the expense of a draft pick.
Overall, the Seahawks have spent almost $20 million on Harvin since acquiring him, and will incur an additional $7.2 million in dead money under next season’s cap; they are clearly losers in this deal, but that does not necessarily make the Jets winners.
For all his faults, there is no denying that Harvin can be a game-changer with his athleticism. Were it not for his alleged personality issues, he would easily command at least a guaranteed second-round pick as trade compensation. If Harvin can behave, New York may have a bargain on their hands.
Harvin will be a much better fit in the offensive scheme of Jets Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who enjoys employing creative formations that more optimally utilize the athleticism of his players. Harvin will not only provide Geno Smith with a new (and much-needed) passing target to pair with Eric Decker, but he will also be an additional rushing threat. It is only fitting that Harvin’s signature play in Seattle was the “jet sweep.”
If the Jets can break Harvin of his selfish and volatile habits, the young receiver may have finally found a home. If not, the Jets will certainly be the last team to risk trading for him. Harvin’s chances in the NFL are quickly evaporating.