There is a lot of debate over the wisdom of Tuesday's trade sending Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks. For one, Adrian Peterson quickly made his displeasure known on Twitter after the deal was announced. Peterson's sentiments apparently aren't shared by everyone in the locker room, however. Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reports that several players were happy to hear that Harvin was moving on, and even happier about the deal that the Vikings received: First and seventh round picks in 2013, and a third round pick in 2014.
Peterson brought up a good point, however. Harvin is a tremendously talented player, and by trading him the Vikings have left themselves desperate for bodies in the wide receiver corps. Currently, Minnesota has four receivers under contract--Jarius Wright, Stephen Burton, Chris Summers and Greg Childs--with just 29 career receptions among them. The team recently released or opted to not re-sign 77 receptions from last season among Michael Jenkins, Jerome Simpson and Devin Aromashodu. Christian Ponder is going to need somebody to throw to.
It's safe to expect the Vikings to make some kind of move for a wideout in the draft or free agency. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any clear-cut options. The speedy Mike Wallace seems like a natural fit to take over for Harvin, but money may be an issue, according to Pelissero. Ditto restricted free agent Victor Cruz. Greg Jennings would come much cheaper, but there are serious injury concerns. Wes Welker, meanwhile, may not have the skill set that the team is looking for. The Vikings don't have a ton of space under the salary cap, so making the right move at the right price will be critical.
Getting the right player will also be important for Ponder, who the Vikings are still trying to shape into a viable starting NFL quarterback. Reports on Monday indicated that Harvin's criticism of Ponder may have been the final straw in the decision to ship the receiver elsewhere. The trade can be seen as a vote of confidence for the third-year quarterback in a way, but the Vikings still have to find someone who wants to catch passes from a quarterback who averaged just 6.08 yards per attempts last season. Jennings, for example, has reportedly indicated that he will hold out to play for an established quarterback if he can afford to. The Vikings may have no choice but to overpay if they want to maintain Ponder's development.
Peterson also isn't getting any younger. He will be 28 in late March, and though he is coming off an MVP season, Peterson plays a position with a relatively short shelf life in the NFL. The Vikings should look to capitalize on Peterson's prime as much as they can, and making sure that the passing game is at least a nominal threat would certainly help.
The Vikings are stuck between hard places at the moment. This year's crop of wide receivers in free agency and the NFL Draft isn't particularly strong, but the Vikings may have no choice but to reach if they are going to field a respectable unit during the 2013 season. Ponder's development, the best years of Peterson's career and the Vikings' playoff hopes may depend on how the team rebuilds the receiving corps, not to mention the sanity of fans.