When the news broke yesterday morning that star wide receiver Percy Harvin had requested that the Minnesota Vikings trade him, many, myself included, thought it was just part of the process in getting a bigger, long-term deal from the team.
But after attending walk through in the morning and skipping the later practice yesterday afternoon, it appears that he isn’t bluffing and would really like to be playing elsewhere for the 2012 season and beyond.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman would neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of reports of Harvin requesting a trade, but did imply yesterday that he “would have no interest in making such a move.” And why would he? Harvin is one of the youngest and best playmaking wide receivers in all of football. But it remains to be seen just how serious the damage has been done behing the scenes.
This doesn’t feel like any type of contract negotiation scheme I’ve seen before. Usually, a player will threaten to hold out or just not show up. Rarely do you see a guy requesting a trade before even getting to the negotiating table. It seems he has a problem with the organization and their direction. At least that’s what I’m gathering from the series of tweets he sent out on his verified account yesterday that read:
“Fans I said I have issues to be worked out money not at all being the problem. I’ve dne everything asked and more. … Me and cch Frazier have been speaking and are on the same page … there’s nothin’ I can do.”
That doesn’t sound like a negotiation tactic. At least not a normal one.
So what has Harvin so peeved? It could be the fact that the team is still light years away from being a contender in a tough division and he doesn’t want to spend his prime playing through a rebuild. It could be that he has a lack of confidence in the team’s young franchise quarterback. It could be a number of things, but they’d all be guesses.
It could, of course, really be about getting paid. One thing I’ve learned in the past is that when an athlete says “it’s not about that money,” it really is about the money. But the requesting a trade part is the real head-scratcher. There are easier ways to get the team to the negotiating table than that.
Entering the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal, Harvin is due a base salary of $915,000 this season. In his first three years, he has accumulated nearly 6,000 yards from scrimmage and has scored 24 touchdowns. Wanting a raise is certainly not out of the question.
So what do the Vikings do?
First off, they need to get a sit down to clear the air and see if the relationship is reparable or not. If it really is about money, give the boy his long-term deal if he is really considered the “franchise cornerstone” head coach Leslie Frazier believes that he is. If the situation isn’t able to be mended and he is insistent upon being moved, respect his wishes before it becomes a major distraction on the team. It isn’t like he’s the first diva wide receiver who has ever been unhappy.
Next, if the team decides to move him, put out feelers around the league and temper the market. I’m sure there are plenty of teams willing to give up some major draft compensation for a 24 year old all-pro wide receiver. The Bills, Texans, Bengals and a few other teams that are close to being Super Bowl contenders likely believe that Harvin could put them over the top. It wouldn’t be hard to move him.
In the end, it’s just another tough luck situation that has fallen on the Vikings. Just add it to the pile of frustration that has ensued ever since Brett Favre’s interception in the closing moments of regulation in the NFC Championship game a couple of years back. Hopefully, for the sanity of their fans, they find a way to make this work out.