Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Keep Percy? Trade Percy? A complex debate heats up for the Vikings

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Vikings draft Updated: February 14, 2013 - 10:40 AM

On Friday morning at Winter Park, Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is scheduled to meet with local reporters to discuss the team’s preparations for next week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. But inevitably, the discussion will turn toward the Percy Harvin trade rumors that surfaced in a big way this past week.

As speculation spreads that the Vikings will spend some time in Indy casting Harvin-baited hooks into the NFL waters with supreme interest in what they might reel back in, Spielman will be asked to comment on all that’s being hypothesized.

Well, we’ll save you the suspense. When the questions are asked – and we’re setting the over-under on Harvin inquiries at 4.5 – Spielman will suddenly seem like his top receiver catching a bubble screen. Darting this way, dodging that way, impossible to corral. He’ll almost certainly reiterate that Harvin is a good football player – blue chip in fact – while vaguely issuing a reminder that the Vikings don’t like to get rid of really good football players.

But will that mean Harvin is certain to be back in purple in 2013? Absolutely not.

Fact of the matter is, from a business standpoint, it does Spielman no good to publicly say anything of substance about Harvin’s future with the team. Not if he has at least some interest in gaging the trade market. Which means that the Harvin story will be wrapped in rumor and innuendo for at least the next few weeks and possibly longer. Which, in turn, means the debates will intensify between those who think Harvin is an irreplaceable playmaker who needs to be kept long-term versus those who think the Vikings should pull the trigger on a trade while the value of doing so may be at its highest.

To help you better understand all the moving parts of this saga, we’re providing legitimate arguments from both sides. Keep Percy? Trade Percy? Feel free to continue this discussion, as you see fit, at your office or local watering hole.

Keep Percy: Here’s your obligatory reminder that through eight games last season, Harvin was the NFL leader in catches with 60. At the season’s midpoint he was on pace for 120 catches and 1,334 receiving yards. For a while, his presence alone made Christian Ponder seem like a guaranteed long-term answer at quarterback. Remember after Week 7 when Ponder ranked near the top of the NFL in completion percentage? Simply because he could flick the ball to Harvin within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage then let number 12 do the rest? Yep, Harvin’s an absolute beast. He’s as slick and sleek as a waxed Porsche while also somehow providing the power of a Humvee.

Trade Percy: Nobody is disputing Harvin’s playmaking ability. The adjectives Sharpied onto his scouting report include explosive, versatile, swift and strong. But those are quickly followed by these: mercurial, moody, temperamental. When Percy’s happy, he’s one of the Vikings’ most lovable stars. When he’s not happy, break open the Advil cabinet. Don’t forget how bizarre it was last summer when Harvin expressed significant unhappiness during the team’s mini-camp, requested a trade but then failed to elaborate publicly on what the heck was bothering him. What’s that all about?

Keep Percy: Forget last summer. That episode settled down within 72 hours. What about last fall and that remarkable 5-2 start the Vikings got off to? Not possible without Harvin’s contributions. We talk a lot about his skills as a receiver. But remember in Week 4 when he also returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a score in Detroit, a TD that wound up being the difference in a 20-13 win? And what about the rushing TD he had a week later against Tennessee, which was followed a few quarters later by a mind-bending display of elusiveness on his way to a second score? Watch this again. Still need reasons to keep Percy?

Trade Percy: That 5-2 start you referenced? Well, guess what. The Vikings finished the season 5-2 as well. And that seven-game closing stretch came without Harvin. He was out with a sprained ankle that ended his season. And after the Vikings put Harvin on injured reserve and he vanished from the facility, the Vikings won their final four regular season games. Not saying, just saying. Sure didn’t seem like Harvin’s presence was a prerequisite for success.

Keep Percy: Look, playmakers like this don’t grow on trees. The Vikings were fortunate that some of Harvin’s character issues made him slide down the draft board in 2009. It was a calculates risk when they picked him. And to take that for granted now would be reckless. Especially for a team that needs so much help at receiver. It’s not like they’re overflowing with depth at that position. Plus, now seems to be the right time to issue a reminder that Harvin doesn’t turn 25 until May 28. That youth translates into big-time upside.

Trade Percy: Is now also the right time to bring up Jarius Wright? The rookie sure seemed to show rapid signs of growth down the stretch. And in the Vikings’ biggest game of the season, that playoff-clinching win over Green Bay in Week 17, Wright had three grabs, 90 yards and a TD. He may not be quite as explosive or dynamic as Harvin. But he can serve a similar role and doesn’t seem to carry half the baggage. Wright was inactive for the first nine games last season yet never seemed to fuss or mope. That’s an underrated asset.

Keep Percy: Trading one of your established stars is dangerous beyond all belief. What do the Vikings think they can get in return for Harvin? That, after all, will be a big piece to this trade puzzle. Logic may infer that a player of Harvin’s caliber should allow the Vikings to demand at least one first-round pick and some change in a deal. But the way NFL business logistics are, it won’t make much sense for any team to surrender a first-round pick for a guy who’s only signed through next season and then will need to be re-signed at a very big cost. So if the Vikings are only looking at getting a second- or third-rounder and a throw-in pick or two in the later rounds, is that really enough to give up a guy who’s probably your second best player behind Adrian Peterson?

Trade Percy: Led us right into our next point. That eye-popping salary Harvin will demand will be a HUGE piece to this puzzle. And inside NFL circles, there’s chatter that Harvin is not just expecting a long-term extension, he’s expecting to be PAAAIIID. You can thank Twin Cities-native Larry Fitzgerald for exploding market on receivers. The contract extension Fitzgerald signed with Arizona, an eight-year deal worth up to $120 million, changed the game. Let us give you some numbers of receiver contracts subsequently signed over the past two offseasons. Vincent Jackson: five years, $55 million. Santonio Holmes: five years, $50 million. Pierre Garcon: five years, $42.5 million. Sidney Rice: five years, $41 million. Marques Colston: five years, $40 million. Those are exorbitant sums. And before you make a long-term investment like that, you best be sure you’re going to be able to manage Harvin’s mood swings and volatility while also hoping his style of play doesn’t turn him into a major durability risk.

Keep Percy: Harvin is better than Santonio Holmes, better than Garcon, better than Rice. He would be worth every bit of a contract that pays him $8-, $9-, maybe $10 million per year. Plus, a shrewd front office will structure the deal so that it’s heavy on incentives to minimize their risks in the event that Harvin either gets injured or has a meltdown.

Trade Percy: If you’re talking $8- or $9 million per year, by all means, start working out a deal. But we’ll say it again. Harvin believes he’s worth more than that. Much more than that. And he might be commanding a deal in the ballpark of Fitzgerald or Calvin Johnson, whose extension with Detroit was seven years and $132 million. That, my friend, is just ludicrous cash to be throwing around. Percy Harvin is a great football player. But he’s not on the level of Fitzy or Megatron. You know most of those names we mentioned a minute ago? Jackson, Holmes, Rice, Colston. Know what they have on their resume that Harvin doesn’t? A 1,000-yard receiving season. So how can a guy who has never surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in a season command in excess of $12 million per year? That’s where this could get extra dicey for Spielman. There’s also a lingering fear that if Harvin already has prima donna tendencies, giving him such a huge payday might create an egocentric monster that can’t be tamed.

Keep Percy: Tired of hearing all these concerns about Harvin’s moods. Are they really that big of a deal? Within the locker room, he isn’t considered a cancer. He hasn’t really been a divisive force amongst teammates. Most of those guys admire how hard he works, how hard he plays and how dynamic he is. If anything, he’s simply a young kid who can be irritable and cause headaches for the coaching staff and front office. This is the NFL. And if any franchise has the kind of even-keeled and patient head coach to deal with such volatility, it’s the Vikings with Leslie Frazier. Frazier has both the tolerance and the desire to continue molding Harvin. And Harvin has said in the past that he loves playing for Frazier, too. So what if that comes with an occasional immature outburst now and again?

Trade Percy: Again, there is absolutely nothing to say Frazier is fed up with Harvin beyond a point of no return right now. He continues to compliment Harvin and has gone on record to say he wants him as part of this football team. But the biggest question here may not be whether the Vikings want Harvin around but whether Harvin wants to be around the Vikings. And if he has checked out and decided that he wants a fresh start in a new place, sometimes there’s no turning back. And for a team looking to continue its impressive resurgence by building around selfless, low-maintenance, no-drama guys, perhaps now’s the perfect time to cut the cord. Get what you can now before the drama builds and becomes a major distraction.

Keep Percy: We’ll leave you with this.

Trade Percy: And we’ll leave you with this.

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Cleveland 26 FINAL
Atlanta 24
Tennessee 24 FINAL
Philadelphia 43
Detroit 9 FINAL
New England 34
Green Bay 24 FINAL
Minnesota 21
Jacksonville 3 FINAL
Indianapolis 23
Cincinnati 22 FINAL
Houston 13
Tampa Bay 13 FINAL
Chicago 21
Arizona 3 FINAL
Seattle 19
St. Louis 24 FINAL
San Diego 27
Miami 36 FINAL
Denver 39
Washington 13 FINAL
San Francisco 17
Dallas 31 FINAL
NY Giants 28
NY Jets 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
LA Clippers 91 FINAL
Memphis 107
Portland 94 FINAL
Boston 88
Charlotte 93 FINAL
Miami 94
Golden State 91 FINAL
Oklahoma City 86
Denver 101 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Montreal 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 5
Arizona 1 FINAL
Anaheim 2
Chicago 1 FINAL
Vancouver 4
Coll of Charleston 61 FINAL
George Mason 60
Massachusetts 75 FINAL
Florida State 69
Youngstown St 76 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 67
Wofford 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 53
Ark-Pine Bluff 43 FINAL
Central Mich 75
Southern Ill 67 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Drexel 61 FINAL
Cornell 59
American Univ 51 FINAL
Morehead State 46
CS-Northridge 88 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 94
Bethune-Cookman 65 FINAL
Central Conn St 60
Columbia 54 FINAL
Lehigh 44
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
New Mexico 51
TX A&M-CC 62 FINAL
Saint Louis 56
Merchant Marine 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 89
South Dakota 72 FINAL
Fairfield 80
Longwood 48 FINAL
Eastern Mich 79
Providence 75 FINAL
Notre Dame 74
Jackson State 50 FINAL
UAB 58
Coppin State 54 FINAL
Denver 80
Northwestern St 68 FINAL
Oklahoma 90
Catawba 52 FINAL
Radford 88
Newman 57 FINAL
Wichita State 105
Yale 66 FINAL
Kent State 59
St Katherine 49 FINAL
UC Riverside 102
NC Central 45 FINAL
Creighton 65
South Florida 65 FINAL
NC State 68
USC 61 FINAL
Penn State 63
Nichols College 70 FINAL
Holy Cross 101
Dayton 65 FINAL
Boston College 53
Wagner 71 FINAL
Hofstra 93
Towson 79 FINAL
Monmouth 75
NC A&T 50 FINAL
Bradley 58
Eastern Ill 49 FINAL
Cincinnati 54
Fla Atlantic 61 FINAL
Georgia 74
Presbyterian 48 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 76
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Rutgers 76
UMKC 55 FINAL
Samford 64
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Navy 70
USC Upstate 69 FINAL
UCF 76
UMass Lowell 64 FINAL
Fordham 57
Montana State 28 FINAL
Kentucky 86
Iona 78 FINAL
North Texas 58
Gardner-Webb 67 FINAL
Seton Hall 85
Akron 68 FINAL
South Carolina 63
Hood College 51 FINAL
Howard 78
Sacred Heart 48 FINAL
Ohio State 106
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Vanderbilt 78
Connecticut 68 FINAL
West Virginia 78
Delaware 52 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 70
Mercer 62 FINAL
Colorado State 75
SD Christian 60 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 82
Northern Ariz 74 FINAL
Ole Miss 80
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Northeastern 65
Pacific 69 FINAL
Washington 76
Miami-Florida 77 FINAL
Charlotte 58
UC Irvine 69 FINAL
St Marys-CA 72
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Long Beach State 63 FINAL
UCLA 77
Montana 66 FINAL
Seattle 62
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(8) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
(22) Minnesota 28 FINAL
Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(19) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(16) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(21) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(12) Arizona 42 FINAL
Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(18) Ole Miss 0 FINAL
Arkansas 30
(24) Louisville 31 FINAL
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 FINAL
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 34 FINAL
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 FINAL
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 FINAL
(23) Clemson 28
Tulane 6 FINAL
East Carolina 34
Stanford 38 FINAL
California 17
Western Carolina 14 FINAL
(2) Alabama 48
ULM 30 FINAL
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 20 FINAL
Memphis 31
Colorado 10 FINAL
(3) Oregon 44
Fla Atlantic 34 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 35
Samford 7 FINAL
(15) Auburn 31
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
Virginia 30
Vanderbilt 0 FINAL
(4) Miss State 51
(17) Missouri 29 FINAL
Tennessee 21
Oklahoma State 28 FINAL
(5) Baylor 49
USC 20 FINAL
(9) UCLA 38
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
Connecticut 0
(25) Boise State 63 FINAL
Wyoming 14
Oregon State 13 FINAL
Washington 37
Fresno State 40 FINAL
Nevada 20
UNLV 35 FINAL
Hawaii 37
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
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(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
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(12) Arizona
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(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
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Virginia Tech
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Tulsa
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Fla Atlantic
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(8) Georgia
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(24) Louisville
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(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
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Louisiana Tech
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(7) Ohio State
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Temple
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Troy
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(18) Ole Miss
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USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
New England 2 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Montreal 24 FINAL
Hamilton 40
Edmonton 18 FINAL
Calgary 43
Alabama 58 FINAL
Temple 51
Massachusetts 46 FINAL
Florida State 74
Creighton 60 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 96
Bryant 79 FINAL
Boston College 90
Robert Morris 84 FINAL
UMBC 60
Sacred Heart 59 FINAL
Maine 58
Virginia Tech 72 FINAL
Providence 69
Coll of Charleston 61 FINAL
George Mason 71
Hartford 59 FINAL
Lafayette 74
William & Mary 80 FINAL
High Point 87
Western Ill 88 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 90
Pittsburgh 64 FINAL
James Madison 80
Toledo 48 FINAL
(24) Purdue 66
Western Mich 47 FINAL
Michigan 74
Cleveland State 73 FINAL
FIU 65
San Diego State 38 FINAL
(2) South Carolina 89
Mount St Marys 62 FINAL
Davidson 67
IUPUI 45 FINAL
(15) Michigan State 64
Illinois State 49 FINAL
Colorado State 70
Incarnate Word 49 FINAL
Indiana 85
Cincinnati 54 FINAL
Iowa State 85
Furman 69 FINAL
Clemson 79
VA Commonwealth 86 FINAL
Ohio State 96
Marquette 51 FINAL
(7) Duke 83
Bethune-Cookman 42 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Coppin State 54 FINAL
Wake Forest 65
(24) Georgia 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 57
Ball State 56 FINAL
(12) Louisville 69
Auburn 51 FINAL
Virginia 66
Utah 43 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 66
Minnesota 68 FINAL
Memphis 62
Georgetown 42 FINAL
Kansas 55
Northwestern St 30 FINAL
Arkansas 78
TX-San Antonio 72 FINAL
Lamar 40
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
McNeese State 57
Air Force 51 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 86
IUPU-Ft Wayne 73 FINAL
USC Upstate 85
Morgan State 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 65
Western Ky 77 FINAL
Miss State 88
Southern U 42 FINAL
Illinois 62
Eastern Illinois 59 FINAL
North Texas 57
Alabama State 61 FINAL
South Alabama 64
Wisconsin 77 FINAL
Drake 89
Seattle 61 FINAL
Montana State 74
UC Santa Barbara 49 FINAL
Northern Ariz 67
Hofstra 64 FINAL
Norfolk State 47
Iona 49 FINAL
Pacific 64
Middle Tennessee 71 FINAL
Ole Miss 65
Portland 67 FINAL
Cal Poly 76
(10) Texas 75 FINAL
UCLA 65
Fresno State 50 FINAL
USC 68
Ave Maria 54 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 102
Holy Cross 29 FINAL
(3) Notre Dame 104
Chicago State 40 FINAL
Oakland 66
(11) North Carolina 76 FINAL
Oregon 59
Harvard 87 FINAL
Quinnipiac 83
Princeton 63 FINAL
American Univ 56
Missouri 70 FINAL
(14) California 82
Yale 51 FINAL
Washington 81
UNLV 70 FINAL
Hawaii 79

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