The New York Jets have acquired receiver/returner Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Harvin has been injury-prone throughout his career but has played in all five of Seattle's games this season.
For the Seahawks, this move is stunning. Seattle has designs on becoming the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 New England Patriots, and it just traded one of its best playmakers for a future pick. Harvin has 133 receiving yards, ranking third on the team, but has also added 283 return and 92 rushing yards so far.
The trade ends the Harvin era in Seattle, which saw him play in a total of six regular season games and two postseason games over two years. Harvin had a big impact in the Super Bowl, scoring on a kickoff return to begin the second half.
To acquire Harvin before the 2013 season, general manager John Schneider dealt first- and seventh-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings along with a third-round selection in 2014. Schneider received a conditional pick in return from the Jets, making this move a net loss in terms of draft picks and money.
In the end, the Seahawks spent roughly $18.4 million on Percy Harvin, who played in a total of 8 games for them, including Super Bowl 48.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 17, 2014
While this trade comes as a shock to the general public, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Schneider and the Seahawks had been looking to move Harvin for an extended period of time.
Rapoport and Breer also reported that, despite Harvin's talents, he's been a bit of a headache for Seattle.
From @RapSheet: Harvin not the easiest player to deal with in locker room. OC Bevell struggled to integrate him into game plans.— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) October 17, 2014
Percy Harvin's anger management issues have followed him, and I'm told that was part of the problem in Seattle.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 17, 2014
Another issue that nudged Schneider into the deal could have been the reported disconnect between Harvin and quarterback Russell Wilson, per Pro Football Talk. Under Rex Ryan, New York has never been shy about taking on receivers with iffy off-field reputations, adding the mercurial Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards among others.
Percy Harvin Trade
Schneider may have also been thinking of maintaining cap room for Wilson, who is signed through the 2015-16 season. Wilson is due $953,519 next season, a number he will be looking to increase dramatically.
From the Jets' point of view, they add a world-class talent but also lose some salary cap space for a team that is 1-6 and has an uncertain future.
New Jets WR Percy Harvin is due $41.5 million over the next 4 years (2015-18). So John Idzik is committing some of that cap room he's built.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 17, 2014
Over at CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora pointed out that New York remains flush with financial flexibility going into the 2014 offseason:
Jets were certainly in position to take on Harvin's $12M/yr salary. Entered week last in NFL with $95M committed to '14 salary ($133M cap)— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 17, 2014
Danny Kelly, lead writer for SB Nation's Seahawks blog, Field Gulls, displayed his feelings on Twitter.
ummmmmmm— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) October 17, 2014
I'm sure theres a reason for this trade but man, what a bummer— Danny Kelly (@FieldGulls) October 17, 2014
Kelly went on to expound on his thoughts about the deal.
Obviously, this comes as an enormous shock. Harvin had been a major part of the Seahawks' offense and also a big part of their special teams unit as the primary kick returner. The reasoning behind this trade will be interesting to hear, if it does indeed come out. It seems likely that something weird was going on behind the scenes, but that's obviously just speculation on my part.
Questions had been raised about Harvin's status with the team when he was off the field for 11 of the Seahawks final 17 plays on Sunday vs. the Cowboys, on a drive where the Seahawks were trying to come back and win the game.
The Jets have struggled mightily this season, and acquiring Harvin gives them a dynamic weapon on the outside and on special teams. New York currently ranks last in the NFL with only 185 passing yards per game. Eric Decker was brought in during the offseason to give second-year quarterback Geno Smith a reliable weapon, but he has contributed just 323 yards in the team's first seven games.
Jeff Parks of SB Nation's Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, has tempered enthusiasm towards the move.
Harvin was healthy for one full season, and has never gone a full season as a starter in spite of lofty hopes for the former first round pick. Harvin never lived up to expectations for Seattle, and they appear to be cutting their losses. This move has John Idzik's fingerprints all over it.
For New York, this move does not hamper Idzik and the franchise in the long term. While Harvin does have four years remaining on his current six-year, $64.2 million deal, the guaranteed money will be paid off by the end of this season. The Jets can release Harvin at any point after this campaign and not owe him anything. More importantly, there is no penalty against their cap figure.