I spent the weekend bitching about how boring the offseason was so far, making the same 140-character bad jokes about the NFL's tampering window and thinking ahead to Tuesday, when the real business would start. Then the Seattle Seahawks jump-started the excitement by acquiring wide receiver and noted migraine sufferer/provider Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings ... all for the low, low price of a first-round pick and seventh-round pick this year, a mid-rounder next year and a contract extension that will make Harvin one of the league's highest-paid receivers.
Let's take a look at some of the deal's implications.
1. Seattle is an early favorite to win the NFC - They almost did it last year, with a rookie quarterback. Entering this offseason, wide receiver was easily one of the team's biggest needs. No more. Pete Carroll's roster, from front to back on both sides of the ball, is loaded with talent. Think about the option offense with Russell Wilson AND Percy Harvin -- the speed, the options, it's all there.
2. The Packers' front office philosophy is alive and well - Tip your hat to GM John Schneider for his role in this team's success. Seattle has found its key contributors in affordable places, i.e. the draft. Wilson is the most obvious success story, a third-round pick that costs a tenth of what the league's starting signal callers do these days. Sam Bradford of the Rams will make more money in one year than Wilson will over the life of his rookie contract. Now ask yourself which one you'd rather build a team around. The hits don't stop with Wilson. Schneider and Carroll have found gems like Richard Sherman in the fifth round or Brandon Browner in the wilds of Canada. That's given them the flexibility to make moves like this.
Schneider cut his teeth in Green Bay's front office, where no team does it better, except for maybe Seattle.
3. The NFC West is legit - Too legit to quit in fact. This is going to be a fun division to watch this season. Battles between Seattle and San Francisco reached new heights last season, with rejected safeties and Jim Harbaugh tantrums. The Seahawks nearly won the division too. Throw in the St. Louis Rams, who even with some catching up to do only lost one game to their division rivals, and this has the makings for the best, bloodiest division in the NFL ... and Arizona there's too.
4. Defensive evolution - If your team is scheduled to play the Seahawks this year, you better take a moment to read Danny Kelly's sensational breakdown of how to defend these newfangled offensive systems, because Seattle just got itself the kind of weapon that can make this sort of system unstoppable.
Just think about being a defensive coordinator tasked with finding an answer for those dozen or so snaps per game when Harvin lines up in the backfield with Wilson. Good luck.
San Francisco already needed cornerback help. St. Louis is looking for safeties. Neither team is run by the type of execs likely to scrap their plans, but you can bet both of those teams will step up their search and willingness to pay for help at those positions, because both are essential to stopping this kind of offense and players like Harvin and Wilson.
Expect to see that trickle down, as more teams catch on and start valuing players like West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin (Harvin without the headaches) in the draft this year, hoping to copy what Seattle is doing here. That will drive the defensive evolution and the whole circle of life will just keep on perpetuating itself.
5. Speaking of Minnesota ... - The Vikings now have the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and plenty of options at their disposal. They'll need those options to keep the team's unexpected playoff run last year from becoming a fluke. Receiver is obviously a big need now that Greg Childs and Jarius Wright are Christian Ponder's top options outside of tight end Kyle Rudolph. And speaking of Ponder, we won't go there, but fixing the offense to be more than Adrian Peterson will define the Vikings' spring.
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