RENTON — John Schneider’s aggressive, meticulous approach to player acquisition, coupled with Pete Carroll’s willingness to take calculated risks, netted the Seattle Seahawks one of the prized playmakers available in the market on the opening day of NFL free agency.
Seattle formally announced the trade for Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the team’s Renton headquarters.
The Seahawks stated that they gave up first- and seventh-round picks in this year’s draft along with a third-rounder in 2014 for Harvin’s services.
Harvin, who had one year at $2.8 million left on his rookie contract, arrives in the Pacific Northwest a much richer man, as Seattle reportedly signed him to a six-year contract worth $67 million, including $25.5 million of guaranteed money.
“It’s been a big relief,” Harvin said. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity that I’m given to come here and compete with some of the great players that they already have in place with the program — a playoff team. This is a dream come true for me and my family.”
With No. 12 retired in honor of the 12th Man, Harvin will wear No. 11, his number in high school.
Both Carroll and Schneider said they consider Harvin like a first-round pick in this year’s draft, considering the draft compensation required to pry him from Minnesota.
“We still have eight draft picks,” Schneider said. “Obviously I understand why you would look at the compensation, but this is a highly unique player. If you place Percy in this draft, there would be some pretty strong arguments of how high he would go, and it would be pretty darn high.
“We’re sitting at 25, and for us to be able to even move up 5 spots it would take probably a third-round draft pick. Really, this is kind of a slam dunk for us.”
Schneider said the Seahawks had been monitoring Harvin’s tenuous situation in Minnesota during the 2012 season in anticipation of the 24-year-old being made available at some point.
According to Schneider, talks between the two teams became serious Friday evening, and Seahawks owner Paul Allen got involved Sunday.
“Percy was up Sunday night after Pete and I were able to speak to Mr. Paul Allen about the situation,” Schneider said. “I just sent him a text and he texted me back. It was about three or four o’clock (in the morning) his time. It was a long weekend, but it was obviously well worth it.”
Harvin arrived in Seattle on Monday evening, drove to the team’s facility on Tuesday and passed a physical in order to make the deal official.
One of the first Seattle players to greet Harvin was quarterback Russell Wilson.
“He was in the film room waiting for (Harvin),” joked Carroll.
Harvin also met with good friend Sidney Rice from his days in Minnesota, and tight end Zach Miller at the team’s facility.
“From the moment that this thing was put together, Russell was already texting me about things we were going to do this offseason,” Harvin said. “We’re set to go in California to work out already. And those are the type of things I love. I can tell the guys here love football.”
Harvin has heard Wilson being compared to another quarterback he played with back in Minnesota — Brett Favre.
“To play with an up-and-coming quarterback like Russell, who guys are comparing him preparation-wise to Brett Favre — when I hear people compare him to Brett Favre, I listen,” he said.
Making the trip with Harvin to Seattle included his girlfriend from college at the University of Florida, Janine Williams, and close childhood friend Ronta’ Johnson.
Williams and Harvin have a baby boy due in June, and will be starting a new family together in Seattle.
“Seeing his jersey and all that kind of stuff, it’s very exciting,” she said. “As long as he’s happy, I’m happy.”
Johnson said he’s known Harvin since the two played youth basketball together in fourth grade. And although Harvin is continuing his career nearly 3,000 miles away from the duo’s hometown of Virginia Beach, Va., Johnson believes his childhood friend is set up to accomplish big things in Seattle.
“It’s a long way from Virginia, but I think he’s going to make history here,” Johnson said. “I think he’s going to break a lot of records being here with Russell Wilson.”
Carroll’s pleased to finally get the player he missed out on while trying to recruit him to USC. And Seattle gets a playmaker whom offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is familiar with from his time in Minnesota. Carroll said Harvin will be a perfect fit for Seattle’s offense and will return kicks.
“He is such a threat,” Carroll said. “He is a receiver that can run and catch the football as well as anybody, but he has a knack for running with the football after the catch that very few players have.”
With Harvin expected to return kicks, the Seahawks released one of the most popular players on the team in return specialist Leon Washington. The Florida State product turns 31 in August. Washington was set to make $2.5 million in non-guaranteed, total compensation in 2013. The Seahawks shopped Washington around in an attempt to find a trade partner, but found no takers. “He did a phenomenal job here,” Schneider said about Washington. “Fans love him. He such a pro. He really handled himself with extreme class when Pete and I talked with him. He understood what we were doing. The first thing you would say about him is that he’s a pro. We’ll miss him.” The Seahawks tendered restricted free agents free safety Chris Maragos, long snapper Clint Gresham and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Maragos and Gresham were tendered at a level where Seattle will have the right of first refusal should either sign an offer sheet with another team. If McDonald signs with another team, the Seahawks will receive a seventh-round draft choice as compensation.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com @eric_d_williams