Percy Harvin’s Extension and its Implications

Yesterday we found out that Percy Harvin was traded to the Seattle Seahawks from the Minnesota Vikings for a first round pick, a seventh round pick, and a 2013 third round pick. I’ve reserved full judgement on the deal until the contract terms came out, and they’ve since come out.

The contract is reasonably favorable for the Seahawks. Harvin will make $11.17 million on average over the course of his six year, $67 million contract. He’s receiving a $12 million signing bonus (that will be prorated against the cap across the first five years of the contract) and his entire first year $2.5 million salary is guaranteed, as well as his $11 million base salary in 2014, but his 2014 salary is only guaranteed for injury until the fifth day of the waiver period.

This is the breakdown of Harvin’s cap number, and remaining prorated bonus and guarantees (dead money).

Year 1: $4.9 million cap hit, $25.5 million dead money

Year 2: $13.4 million cap hit, $20.6 million dead money

Year 3: $12.9 million cap hit, $7.2 million dead money

Year 4: $13.8 million cap hit, $4.8 million dead money

Year 5: $11.35 million cap hit, $2.4 million dead money

Year 6: $11.15 million cap hit, no dead money

So the Seahawks are upside down on Harvin until year three, meaning that if he’s cut he’ll actually cost the Seahawks extra money within that year unless they choose to defer part of cap hit into the next year.

Of course, this gives the Seahawks a pretty low cap number for Harvin in the 2013 season. They can still add a pass rush, and can probably keep Sidney Rice, Chris Clemons, Zach Miller, and just about every other key expensive player. Financially, exclusively for the 2013 season, Harvin is very reasonable. After that his contract will start to cause some problems.

It’s important to point out that the trade for Percy Harvin wasn’t simply draft picks for a player, rather, they traded picks for Harvin, signed Harvin to a lucrative contract, and as a result of that contract they’ll have to lose somebody else important in the future.

That person doesn’t have to be Richard Sherman or Russell Wilson. It’s more likely to be someone like K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Max Unger or Bruce Irvin. Maybe more than one. That may not equal doom, but it’s got to be considered as part of the cost for acquiring Harvin.

His production has a breakeven point, and it’s a reachable breakeven point, but it’s a very high breakeven point when all the chips are laid on the table.