Men in this world are united by a common problem. Well, several (why hasn’t steak-flavored ice cream been invented yet?) but one in particular regarding the opposite sex. There’s often nothing more frustrating than when your significant other says there’s something wrong, but won’t elaborate further.
For Christian Ponder, his Vikings girlfriend/wife is Percy Harvin. Does that sound weird? No? Good, let’s carry on.
After finishing his rookie season with a mediocre 70.1 passer rating and a 54.3 completion percentage over 11 game appearances, Ponder needs his work wife. The Vikings brought in Jerome Simpson for support, and Kyle Rudolph should start to blossom this year and provide Ponder with a reliable young safety valve at tight end. But Harvin is still the deep, explosive option, so he needs to be happy.
And he’s not. Not even a little bit, and he won’t tell anyone why.
Harvin was present at the Vikings’ mandatory mini camp today, but he was on the field only if you count the sidelines as part of the field. He’s still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, a process that was expected to keep him out until training camp.
But when asked today how his injury feels, Harvin promptly said that he’s feeling great. We don’t have confirmation on whether or not he said that in the Tony the Tiger voice, but feel free to use your imagination. I did.
If his shoulder isn’t keeping him out of mini camp, then it must be something else. Money, perhaps?
Speaking to reporters for the first time in several weeks, Harvin repeatedly said he’s “not happy” with multiple issues and those issues “definitely” must be resolved before he’d report to Mankato for training camp on July 26.
“I’ll just put it this way — it’s a lot of different things that have to be sorted out,” Harvin said. “Just haven’t been real happy lately. So, we’ve got a couple things to work on. I’m here in the classroom, so we’ll go from here.”
Harvin wouldn’t say whether one of the issues is his contract, but that stands to reason.
Yes, Tom, that does sound like a reasonable conclusion. At 24 years old Harvin still has two years left on his rookie contract, and the first-round pick in 2009 is set to play for a minimal fee of $915,000 in 2012, a figure that rises slightly to $1.55 million in 2013 before he’s scheduled to become a free agent in 2014. Despite playing for an offense with a rookie quarterback who was repeatedly demolished in the pocket and needed just 10 starts to get sacked 30 times and sustain a concussion, Harvin still managed to flirt with 1,000 receiving yards this past season (he finished with 967, easily a career high). He also scored six touchdowns, and continues to be dynamic as a weapon in the return game, scoring a 104-yard return TD.
Fearless prediction based on the above numbers: Harvin’s issues aren’t issues at all, and they are in fact singular. Yep, only one, and it indeed relates to the size of his paycheck.
Harvin plays a position in which the elite talents can be reasonably productive until their late 30s. But while he’s surely confident in his abilities, there’s no crystal ball to predict the production of each player, and more importantly, their health. He’s watched as the Patriots pinch Wes Welker’s pennies at the age of 34, and Reggie Wayne will make only $1 million in 2012 during a season when he turns 34. Harvin is aware of his financial fate later in his career, and likely thinks he needs to make his money now and be paid a price that’s more in line with his value.
Waiting until the end of his current contract when he’s 26 isn’t a suitable option for a player who’s already had a significant surgery, and has struggled with migraines. He needs money, and he needs it now.
But to reach that goal he’ll also need leverage, and he has none. The likely reasons motivating Harvin to seek an extension and more greenery are the same reasons why the Vikings won’t pay him. He lacks durability, and although Harvin brings a unique skill set and would be missed if he sat out during camp or even into the regular season, Simpson is a sufficient substitute.
Leverage is the driving force behind any NFL contract negotiation. So while your motivations are understandable, Percy, your timing isn’t.