The Percy Harvin aftermath: How soon will Seahawks recover?
The Seahawks gave up a lot last year to acquire Percy Harvin from the Vikings, a deal that might have also led to the loss of Golden Tate. The question now is how quickly the Seahawks can recover from the wager they lost.
Seattle Times staff reporter
While the shock of the Percy Harvin trade might finally have worn off, the aftershocks figure to linger.
And we’re not referring to the reports that surfaced during the week of unrest in the Seattle locker room, some calling the trade simply the most public symptom of a team divided. (People will likely believe whatever they want on those topics, and only winning the Super Bowl again is likely to silence those story lines.)
We’re talking, instead, about the more tangible lasting impacts of the 19-month failed Harvin experiment.
Maybe the most obvious? If the Seahawks had never traded for Harvin, who was then with the Minnesota Vikings, then Golden Tate would maybe (likely?) still be a Seahawk.
Tate was essentially gone the minute the team traded for Harvin in March 2013. Harvin was signed to a six-year, $67 million deal that included $14.5 million fully guaranteed and a salary-cap hit of $6.7 million for 2014.
Given all that Seattle needed to get done last offseason, there was never going to be a really clean way to fit Harvin and Tate on the roster in any manner that made salary-cap sense, especially given what Tate ended up being worth on the open market after having a breakthrough 2013 season.
Tate received a five-year deal worth $31 million from the Detroit Lions. He has 48 receptions, fourth-best in the NFL, for 649 yards, looking like he was worth the money.
It’s worth remembering, though, that at the time of the trade, Tate was an emerging talent, but not viewed as the equal of Harvin, who in 2012 with the Vikings was called by many the midseason MVP before being waylaid by injuries.
Harvin made 62 catches in nine games in 2012, Tate 45 in 15 games. Tate also had yet to become one of the better punt returners in the NFL (a role he actually isn’t performing with the Lions).
Still, it’s hard not to play the what-if game when it comes to Harvin/Tate, with Seattle now needing to get a quick payoff from rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood. (Not to mention that Tate had become one of the most popular Seahawks.)
One reason Seattle decided not to get involved in the Tate free-agency sweepstakes, besides assuming Harvin would replace his production, is that the Seahawks wanted to clear cap space to re-sign Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, and also to set the stage for re-signing Russell Wilson next spring.
That also led to Seattle not re-signing, or releasing, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Clinton McDonald and Walter Thurmond.
Given what we now know of Harvin, maybe Seattle didn’t consider him in their plans past 2014 anyway — even from the beginning there was a school of thought the Seahawks might get out of the deal after two years, once all the guaranteed money was paid.
But who knows? Maybe not having Harvin and a contract whose cap hit jumps to $10.5 million in 2015 (and roughly the same through the final three years) would have given the Seahawks more flexibility. There’s also the matter of the picks Seattle gave up — first- and seventh-rounders in 2013 and a third-rounder in 2014.
Minnesota used those to draft cornerback Xavier Rhodes (now a full-time starter), offensive lineman Travis Bond (who did not make Minnesota’s 53-man roster last year and is currently out of the league) and running back Jerick McKinnon (who has 309 yards in his rookie season, including a 135-yard game against Atlanta and 103 yards last week against Buffalo).
The fact the Vikings got two players who look like longterm fixtures had many in Minnesota crowing even more about the trade this week.
While we can only guess who Seattle would have taken with the picks it traded away for Harvin, the Seahawks have thrived with volume drafting under John Schneider/Pete Carroll, and the potential value of three more picks is pretty obvious.
This is all massive second-guessing, of course.
Many applauded Seattle at the time of the trade for making a bold move to improve a team on the cusp of a Super Bowl title — a title they did indeed win, even if Harvin’s contributions were minimal.
And Seattle built much of the rest of that Super Bowl roster by making the same kind of bold moves.
As the events of last week showed, though, not all gambles pay off. The question now is how quickly Seattle can make up for the wager it lost.