Rick Spielman had the statement down pat: We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin.
Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings general manager, had several chances to change his tune or utter different words. Invariably, they always came out the same way: We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin.
Those words were said by Spielman, verbatim, several times. They were likely decided on and rehearsed. Spielman, possibly, might have even believed them at one time. Spielman couldn’t say the exact truth: ”We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin . . . unless we get something really good in return.”
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Spielman didn’t know earlier this offseason what offers might roll in for Harvin, Minnesota’s talented, yet temperamental receiver. In a perfect world, the Vikings probably would have preferred to hold on to their leading receiver and kick returner. Strictly judged by on-field performance, Minnesota likely would have rewarded Harvin, the No. 22 pick in the 2009 draft, with a handsome contract that rivaled many of the top receivers in the league.
Harvin’s situation was anything but perfect and couldn’t be defined by on-field actions alone.
When pressed about Harvin’s reported displeasure or whether the Vikings would trade the mercurial talent, Spielman couldn’t say, ”We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin, unless we get a first-round pick in return,” or ”We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin, unless we get a package that contains a first-rounder and multiple picks,” just like the Seattle Seahawks have reportedly offered for Harvin.
As FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer first reported Monday, Seattle has sent the No. 25 overall pick in this year’s draft, plus a seventh-rounder this year and a third-round pick next year to Minnesota for Harvin. It’s a calculated gamble by the Seahawks and the Vikings, yet one that was needed for all sides.
Seattle becomes the next team to believe it can calm down Harvin and his constant outbursts. Harvin, 24, is emotional. It’s one trait that sets him apart on the field, playing a game tougher than his 5-foot-11, 184-pound frame would suggest. It also has led to repeated confrontations dating all the way back to his high school days.
As a result, Harvin’s good-will in Minnesota had dwindled. On talent alone, Harvin is a unique star. But the disruptions proved to be too much. If the reports the past two months are true — and in Harvin’s case where he’s prone to any emotional blow-up, it wouldn’t be a surprise — then his time with the Vikings had come to an end.
Not even Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier, one of the nicer men in the NFL and one of the ultimate peacemakers, could resolve the issues, though he tried. If Harvin, who had at least one public outburst toward Frazier and one big blowup behind closed doors that ended up partially as a reason Harvin was put on season-ending injured reserve last year, can’t get along with Frazier, who can he?
That’s why Spielman was in the position he was, having to put on his smile and say, “We don’t intend to trade Percy Harvin” even as the relationship had deteriorated. Spielman had to keep the status quo and create a market for Harvin, while not tipping his hand.
Trading a blue-chip talent like Harvin isn’t easy. It’s nearly impossible to receive enough in return for a proven playmaker. But Spielman created the market and cashed in Monday when presented three picks, including a first-rounder. After the offseason was fueled with report after report of a disconnect between the player and team, Spielman did well to pry a first-round pick away from Seattle.
Many in the league had speculated that the Vikings would be lucky to get a second-rounder. Some said Harvin’s antics would leave Minnesota with only a third-rounder and maybe one additional pick in return. But Spielman played his cards all along with his no “intent” statements and got the package he desired, or at least was willing to accept. In trading someone that many believe needed to be traded, the Vikings did well.
Monday’s result wasn’t what Minnesota likely intended to do with an elite player, but now was the time to move from “intent” to action and both sides are better for moving on.