One of the greatest receivers in Vikings history believes the team’s future is “better off” without Percy Harvin.
“I think the organization did the right thing,” Hall of Famer Cris Carter said when asked about Monday’s trade that sent Harvin to Seattle for first- and seventh-round picks this year and a third-round pick in 2014.
“I’m not surprised, given the situation with him not being happy and there being so little chance of a contract extension for the type of money he wants. So they’re better off, especially with a young quarterback, trading Percy and getting something for him compared to going through the season rolling the dice.”
Carter also was impressed by what the Vikings got in return.
“Chicago got an elite receiver in Brandon Marshall and it only cost them two third-round picks,” Carter said. “So I think the Vikings did well. And they’re able to keep their salary cap intact rather than paying $11 million to $13 million a year to a guy that you don’t know how much he’s going to play. With Percy’s style, he’s going to get hurt.
“And don’t forget, the Vikings also had a lot of success without Percy at the end of last season.”
Now, of course, comes the hard part: replenishing a position that already was thin before the trade.
The Vikings have only two receivers under contract who have played an NFL game. Jarius Wright, a fourth-round pick last year, has 22 catches, while Stephen Burton, a seventh-round pick in 2011, has seven career catches. The only other receivers on the roster are practice squad player Chris Summers and 2012 fourth-round pick Greg Childs, who tore the patellar tendon in both knees last summer.
Carter said he’d start by re-signing Jerome Simpson at a reasonable price. Then he’d look for a bargain on a second-tier veteran free agent.
“You really can’t overextend for a receiver and pay $11 million a year, so I can understand them not being in the Mike Wallace sweepstakes,” Carter said. “As far as Greg Jennings, I would at least look at him and see what it would take to get him.”
Two cheaper second-tier options: Indianapolis’ Donnie Avery, who had 60 catches last year, including nine for 111 yards in a victory over the Vikings; and St. Louis’ Brandon Gibson, who had 51 catches and five touchdowns a year ago.
The Vikings also are better suited to dip into the pool of restricted free agents now that they’re armed with an extra first-round pick. The Giants’ Victor Cruz would cost a first-round pick and a lucrative offer, but the 26-year-old rising star could be worth it.
Then there’s the draft, where the Vikings hope to benefit from a strong, deep class.
“They’re going to have to draft at least three receivers, including one in the first round,” Carter said. “But they’re fortunate. In this year’s class, you can get a fourth-rounder who can help right away.”
Carter likes Cal’s Keenan Allen, a projected first-rounder he’s been working with. Allen’s stock has been dropping because of concerns about his knee, but he can change that with a strong performance at his pro day next month.
“I don’t see any receiver in the first round that’s better than him,” Carter said. “Keenan would be a good pick for the Vikings [at No. 23].”
Tennessee’s Cordarelle Patterson probably will be off the board by No. 23. But there will be many other quality options available.
“It just depends on what your flavor is,” Carter said. “Actually, one guy to watch is Tavon Austin from West Virginia. He’s a lot like Percy. You can get that Harvin-type playmaking and speed component back with Tavon. I think the Vikings should be able to get the player they need.”