Calm down about the Percy Harvin trade

Today the Seahawks traded Percy Harvin to the New York Jets for a draft pick. The pick is conditional, and the deal isn’t completely official, as neither team has announced it and it apparently hinges on a Harvin physical that may not be a slam dunk considering his injury issues, but whatever. Harvin is probably going to be catching passes from Geno Smith instead of Russell Wilson.

As the days go on we’ll certainly hear more about what caused Harvin to fall out of favor with the team. He’s got a history of making dumb decisions, though that history hasn’t become his present in Minnesota or Seattle, at least not publicly. He’s also been injury prone. In the case of his hip issues, the injuries seemed legitimate, but there was a lot of doubt surrounding the migraine headaches that kept him out of practice and games in Minnesota.

It’s somewhat irrelevant the reason that Harvin moved on, and I can say with documentable proof – which is the primary benefit of having this blog – that I wasn’t in favor of the trade for Harvin to begin with. I explained the problems that his extensions could cause here, and prior to the trade for Harvin I explained why the Seahawks didn’t need a “number one receiver.”This isn’t to toot my own horn. It’s convenient that this occurred and validated my opinion, but the Seahawks lack of a need for a top receiver was validated long before this trade. The Seahawks lack of a need for a top receiver was validated by them winning the Super Bowl last year, mostly without the services of Harvin.

One of the things that has occurred recently, and for relatively good reason, is that people are afraid, or even vilified for their efforts to apply logic to the Seahawks acquisitions and personnel moves. They won a Super Bowl after trading for Harvin, but there is a huge causal argument fueled mostly by Harvin’s lack of contribution that indicates that Harvin was virtually unnecessary to the team’s success – Super Bowl performance be damned.

Of course, the team is without the two primary contributors from whom I attempted to build a case against a trade for a guy like Harvin. Sidney Rice and Golden Tate were really, really good in 2012, and Tate is in Detroit and Sidney Rice is off prosthelytizing the virtues of Wing Stop in his retirement. The team lacks a true “number one” and will be forced to rely on the likes of Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette, and the relative inexperience and lacking talent of Paul Richardson and Bryan Walters respectively.

When the Seahawks drafted Richardson, however, it may have been something of the writing on the wall for Harvin’s exit, though even the most bullish proponent of getting rid of Harvin probably expected it to occur after the 2015 season. Richardson has seen very little playing time, and has made only one reception for seven yards. He’s been billed as a guy who can play a similar role to what Harvin has, though there isn’t really any reason to believe he’s quite as athletic as Harvin, but he’s substantially cheaper.

In addition to all of the reasons why the Seahawks probably shouldn’t have traded for Harvin to begin with, didn’t get a lot of contribution from him in their run to the Super Bowl, and the reasons why they may not have a drop off in production, the team needs cap room going forward. Russell Wilson will be eligible for an extension in the offseason, and Russell Wilson is going to make a lot of money. We’ve seen how perennial contenders – something we all hope the Seahawks remain – have had to deal with the receiver position. The Denver Broncos let Eric Decker leave in the offseason. Tom Brady has seen more turnover in the receiving corps of the New England Patriots than the Oakland Raiders have seen in their head coaching position. The Packers had to let Greg Jennings walk. The Steelers let Mike Wallace walk. Losing receivers is a hazard of having an elite quarterback, and the ability to remain productive without elite talent at the position is the benefit of an elite quarterback.

None of this is to say that the Seahawks don’t need an improvement at receiver. Their offense has been pretty weak in the past several weeks, and fans and experts alike are getting quite tired of short passes at the line of scrimmage and the apparent shoehorning of Harvin into the offense. This tactic – though beneficial in its potential to keep MArshawn Lynch’s legs fresh come the postseason – has had a tendency to take the Seahawks offense so far out of rhythm that their postseason credentials could come into question. The Seahawks are pretty dynamic offensively when they are throwing the ball downfield, and they having done enough of that in recent weeks.

It’s worth mentioning that the Seahawks and their fans have also been impressed with Kevin Norwood, who has been injured early in his career, and who could make his NFL debut soon as a result of this move. Norwood would probably immediately be the team’s most physical receiver, and between Richardson and Norwood, the team may have a relative, albeit reduced proxy of the Tate-Rice tandem with which they were so successful.

It shouldn’t go unmentioned that the Seahawks gave up considerably more for Harvin than they will acquire in the trade with the Jets. That’s unfortunate, though it doesn’t really compound the mistake of trading for Harvin in the first place. Most teams that make mistakes like trading for, and then signing a guy like Harvin don’t get any compensation in return for him. Trading for Harvin is probably the largest mistake that this personnel group has made since taking the reins of the Seahawks, but the mistake isn’t compounded by this trade, but would have been severely compounded had they continued to pay Harvin while he presumably lost value, and potentially got injured again. This wasn’t working. It probably never would have. Kudos to the Seahawks front office for recognizing that before it was too late.