With Harvin trade, fortune likely to favor bold Seahawks again
For a franchise that has rapidly become known for its fearless, unconventional thinking on personnel matters, Seattle's trade for disgruntled Vikings receiver-return man Percy Harvin on Monday is another bold step. And one that again reinforces the perception that Seattle is comfortable operating outside the box and rapidly gaining confidence in its methods.
Though complete terms of the deal are not yet known, the gist of the trade reportedly is Harvin in exchange for the Seahawks' first-round pick this year, No. 25 overall in a draft thought to be deeper than exceptional. Many teams hold the belief that first-round picks are gold, never to be bartered away, but not Seattle. The Seahawks aren't afraid to take that gamble, and obviously came to the conclusion that Harvin -- the NFL's 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year -- was better than any offensive playmaker they were going to acquire in the bottom fourth of the first round.
It's tough to disagree. To be sure, Harvin comes with some risks. He has been an unhappy player the past few years in Minnesota, and unhappy players are always subject to stay unhappy, even once their surroundings change and their contract issues are cleared up. The same can be said for Harvin's injury history, with him playing in all 16 of Minnesota's games just once in four seasons. Injury-plagued players often continue to be injury-plagued and don't usually experience a sudden reversal of fortune on that front.
But this is a win-now move for a team ready to challenge San Francisco for supremacy in the NFC, and Harvin gives Seattle another dynamic and unconventional player who threatens a defense on multiple fronts, having scored multiple touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and return man. Harvin at his best creates pressure on a defense that few players can match, and it's not often you can pick up a fifth-year talent with a fairly unique skill set while that player is very much in his prime.
Beside having faith in their own judgments -- see Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft -- the Seahawks have reason to believe they can surround the mercurial Harvin with enough familiar faces and team leaders to make the most of their investment. Former Vikings receiver and Harvin teammate Sidney Rice made the move to the Pacific Northwest from Minnesota and can vouch for the Seattle way of football and life. One-time Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is in the same job with the Seahawks, and was with Minnesota when Harvin had great success in 2009-2010.
Harvin is an X-factor player who can line up almost anywhere, from the slot to the backfield. With him, Rice, receiver Golden Tate, tight end Zach Miller and the productive Marshawn Lynch as the lead rusher, Seattle's offense just got more versatile and dangerous. And that's going to help Wilson, the Seahawks' spectacular rookie quarterback of 2012, have more options to utilize this season, once opposing defenses have more time to game plan and scheme for stopping him.
The Seahawks started this offseason with plenty of salary cap room and 10 draft choices, second most in the NFL behind San Francisco (who should have 15 selections once compensatory picks are awarded), so they didn't wipe out their 2013 draft class with Monday's big trade. What they did was take another step toward matching the 49ers' offensive weapons and signal once again that they're willing to take calculated risks if they view the rewards sizable enough.
Winning alone isn't guaranteed to cure everything that bothered Harvin in Minnesota, because the Vikings were a surprise playoff team last season and he still had his issues with his contract and how he fit into the offensive scheme. But Seattle, which is sure to give him a new deal upon his arrival, has a great vibe going these days, and with a top-ranked scoring defense that is largely returning intact, the Seahawks were only another playmaker or so away from having very legitimate Super Bowl dreams.
The 49ers are talented, adding further talent with the acquisition of Anquan Boldin for a sixth-round pick later Monday, and they aren't going away. But they also do not scare Pete Carroll's club. A weapon like Harvin might have made the difference in Seattle's narrow divisional-round playoff loss at Atlanta, with the Seahawks coming ever so close to earning another shot at San Francisco in the NFC title game.
"You have to really like what Seattle has done in the past two years,'' one veteran club personnel man told me recently. "They're going to do things their way and not worry about the public perception. They've really approached things in a unique fashion and forged a new identity for themselves. They didn't use a high draft pick to find a quarterback, and they're willing to draft players that they love, but that not everybody else does. You have to be impressed. They know what they want, and what they're doing.''
The Harvin trade just continues Seattle's momentum and its willingness to follow its unconventional plan. Two playoff berths in the past three years, with a postseason win in both of those trips, is not enough. The Seahawks will draft with an edge, and daringly trade a high-round draft choice when the opportunity for improvement arises. So far, so good. In Seattle, they're building something, and they've earned the benefit of the doubt.
TROTTER: Harvin is a headache, but not a lost cause