There’s no question that the Minnesota Vikings are a better overall football team when Percy Harvin is on the field. After all, he’s one of the league’s most dynamic kickoff returners and slot receivers – plus he even plays some running back. But is Harvin worth the $16.5 million annually that he’s hoping to earn in free agency?
The Vikings can’t really seem to come up with an answer, and it appears as if they could be making preparations for life without Harvin. The 24-year-old has one more year left on his contract and wants to be re-signed before training camp opens later in 2013. Assuming he doesn’t get re-signed this offseason, it’s very possible that he will hold out and skip some regular season games.
As this headache inches closer and closer, the Vikings are out shopping for other wide receivers. And the biggest name to surface so far is Mike Wallace, who’s hoping for a fresh start following a down year with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After serving as a legitimate number one wideout for the Steelers in 2010 (1,257 receiving YDS, 10 TD) and 2011 (1,193 receiving YDS, 8 TD), Wallace regressed with 836 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. Of course, most people still see the talent as being there, which is why Minnesota is willing to enter a bidding war with the Miami Dolphins.
The way that some Vikings fans see it now, they could have two top receiving threats by signing Wallace. And this would certainly be a welcome thought for starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who was relegated to a receiving quartet of Michael Jenkins, Kyle Rudolph, Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright at the end of the year.
However, the reality is that it could just be Wallace boosting the receiving corps., with Percy Harvin playing the minimum to qualify for free agency next offseason. It’s ultimately up to the Vikings to decide if they want to pay Harvin the same kind of money that Calvin Johnson earns. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons that Minnesota will be weighing.
A Big Threat – Percy Harvin is a dangerous player who’s more valuable than his numbers indicate. His speed and mobility make Harvin somebody that commands extra attention any time he’s on the field. This in turn frees other players up for more production like Adrian Peterson, Jenkins and Rudolph.
Solid Numbers – In just nine games last year, Harvin managed to catch 62 balls for 677 yards, rushed for 96 yards, had a 105-yard kickoff return, and scored five total touchdowns.
Proven Winner – The Vikings had a pretty successful year after going 10-6 and making the playoffs. In the eight full games that Harvin played last season, the Vikings went 5-3 and looked good while doing so.
Christian Ponder needs Him – One of the biggest aids to Adrian Peterson’s 2,000-plus-yard rushing campaign was how badly Ponder performed in Harvin’s absence; in other words, Minnesota was forced to run Peterson over and over again. With his favorite target in the lineup, Ponder threw for over 200 yards five times in nine games; without Harvin, Ponder was only able to go over 200 yards twice passing in seven games.
Injury-Prone – In his first three seasons, Percy Harvin rarely missed any games. However, he did sit out plenty of snaps due to migraines and other nagging injury problems. But last year, things really bottomed-out when the Florida product was placed on the injured reserve mid-season with an ailing hip and ankle. Percy only managed to play in nine contests in 2012 because of this.
Bad Temperament – $16.5 million is a lot of money to pay annually for a guy who’s had run-ins with coaches dating back to his college days. He was seen yelling at coach Leslie Frazier last year during the Seattle game – most likely over wanting the ball more. He also threw a weight at former Vikings coach Brad Childress when Randy Moss was cut from the team.
Sulkiness/Immaturity – Nobody questions Percy Harvin’s desire to win. But when things don’t go his way, Harvin has the tendency to sulk and be immature. The screaming matches with coaches are a good example of this. He also demanded a trade when he was unhappy with the Vikings prospects last summer. This being said, it won’t be surprising if his heart isn’t into the team when/if a giant contract doesn’t come.
It certainly won’t be easy for Minnesota to hand Harvin anywhere in the neighborhood of $16.5 million per year based on the cons we discussed. However, they can’t exactly afford to let him walk without getting Wallace based on the pros we talked about. All we can say is that the Vikings’ front office is a tough place to be right now.