Vikings GM Rick Spielman said earlier this afternoon that he has “no interesting at all” in trading Percy Harvin. He used strong words and spoke with conviction, which means that this little disturbance is surely over with, Harvin will show up to training camp on time, and the world will continue its normal rotation.
Read his almighty words. If you’d really like to get into the act, make a tight fist and pound it on your table a few times. Or even better, kick something loudly, just make sure you’re not in the neighbor’s living room for some reason.
Take it away, Rick:
“We drafted Percy Harvin here. He’s a key part of our organization. He’s a key part of our football team. Any issues that are out there or reported, we always handle those internally and continue to handle those internally.”
That’s swell, but this may not be your choice, fine sir. It should be, and Spielman’s job description as GM certainly indicates that he’s tasked with deciding who is or isn’t on the Vikings’ roster. But here’s a well-known fact of every general manager’s existence: if a player truly wants out of a situation and he has even a thimble of leverage, he’ll use it. And Harvin has some, although its impact may be negligible.
By nature, NFL players are intensely self aware. This relates both to the numbers on their paychecks after contract negations, and their importance in an offense or defense. Harvin knows that along with Adrian Peterson, he’s a cornerstone piece in the Vikings’ rebuild, especially this year with Jerome Simpson sitting out for nearly a quarter of the season with a suspension. The fate and future of Christian Ponder is therefore closely tied to Harvin, and even with the team’s top receiver healthy and happy, the Vikings’ first-round pick in last year’s draft was arguably a massive, possibly franchise-crippling reach.
Without Harvin, there’s Simpson once he returns, and then there’s a spiraling cliff dive to the No. 3 and 4 receivers, Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashadu. Combined they only had 64 receptions last year. Combined.
Harvin is under contract for the next two years, so in theory he’s obligated to play, no matter how dissatisfied he is with his role and/or contract and/or head coach. But theory and reality are vastly different, and Harvin’s ability to get his reported wish granted depends on his level stubbornness as training camp approaches.
He can be fined for every day he isn’t at training camp, but if he chooses to hold out and is truly a malcontent who’s unwilling to behave and work with head coach Leslie Frazier and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, then shipping him out and severing the cancer from a young, rebuilding team could become the only option. Employing the latest in a long line of mouthy wide receiver divas following in the lineage of Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, and Keyshawn Johnson (who’s status as an unapologetic jerk played a role in his departure from New York) isn’t an ideal situation for an offense led by a fragile quarterback who’s in only his second season.
That conclusion to this growing mess still feels unlikely. But it’s conceivable, and it’s a reality Spielman needs to be prepared for as the days tick down to training camp, and Harvin is showing little desire to play football in a Vikings uniform.