The Seahawks served notice to the 49ers and the rest of the NFL on Monday that they're not standing pat, with news of a deal for receiver Percy Harvin.
The never-conceding, always-competing Seahawks are at it again. For all their talk about not needing to make an all-in move this offseason, they did it anyway by trading for the dynamic and versatile Percy Harvin.
It was a bold move, even for them. They devote precious draft resources and, presumably, big money to get Harvin from Minnesota and sign him to a lucrative new contract. Terms of his new deal haven’t been disclosed, but he’s expected to be one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL. Add that to the first- and seventh-round picks the Seahawks are giving the Vikings in April’s draft and the probable third-rounder they’re giving up in 2014, and the tab for a receiver who has yet to post a 1,000-yard season looks astonishingly high.
The Seahawks weren’t desperate for Harvin. They made the playoffs last season with an offense that averaged 32.4 points their final 10 games, including the postseason. There was already ample reason to expect a balanced, dangerous offense next season to complement a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFL.
But the Seahawks wanted more. And they wanted it now. And while the investment in Harvin is enormous, so is the statement Seattle just made about refusing to be complacent, and truly building a championship roster.
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There’s also an upside to this deal that you rarely find when a team trades for an established star. Harvin doesn’t turn 25 until May 28, and he has 280 career receptions. He was an MVP candidate before he injured his ankle against the Seahawks in Week 9 and missed the rest of the season. If Harvin hadn’t been such a malcontent at times in Minnesota, there’s no way the Vikings would be willing to deal such a gifted player when he and running back Adrian Peterson mean everything to their limited offense.
The Seahawks don’t seem concerned about Harvin’s mercurial nature, though. They don’t seem concerned about his history of bad migraines and constant nagging injuries. Pete Carroll has shown that he can manage high-maintenance players and get the most out of their talent.
Harvin isn’t a bad guy. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell used to coach him in Minnesota, and his input was sought before the Seahawks made this move. Sidney Rice, the team’s current No. 1 wide receiver, came from Minnesota, too. The Seahawks know the risk, but apparently, they sense the reward will be greater.
You need only to remember the Seahawks’ 2006 acquisition of Deion Branch to understand the potential downside of giving up a first-round pick for the right to overpay a receiver. But former general manager Tim Ruskell made that decision, not John Schneider, who is a more astute judge of talent. Schneider values draft picks more than any GM in the game, so his willingness to make this trade should tell you how much ability Harvin possesses.
The Seahawks are going for it, within reason. Because Harvin is so young, he can still grow with this team. The Seahawks wouldn’t have made such an investment if he were older. The acquisition is a break from their draft-heavy philosophy, but it is merely a small one to get a player who fits in with what they are doing.
Clearly, the Seahawks believe they are close to winning a Super Bowl. They also believe they have a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson they must surround with talent. Wilson is probably so excited he’s watching film of every game Harvin has ever played. Wilson is probably so excited he has learned five new clichés to describe Harvin’s playmaking ability.
There are better deep threats and touchdown makers at receiver, but Harvin stands alone with his versatility. He will be a reliable possession receiver who can be used as a deep threat on occasion, but he’s extraordinary as a physical, tackle-breaking beast who can turn a 2-yard pass into a 60-yard touchdown. You can use him as a running back, and if the Seahawks continue to flirt with the read-zone plays and the pistol formation, Harvin just made those packages much scarier to defend.
For the Seahawks, the fight to win the Super Bowl starts with the need to beat NFC West rival San Francisco. Monday served as an indicator that the competition with the 49ers is in midseason form. Did a bidding war with the Niners contribute to the high price for Harvin? Perhaps. San Francisco responded hours after Seattle completed the deal by trading a sixth-round pick to Baltimore for Anquan Boldin.
The Seahawks won that one. With this splashy move, they have served notice to the 49ers and the entire league that they plan on winning a lot more, too.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.