Well, that ends the problem of getting Percy Harvin the ball downfield more. Or giving it to him too much.
He won’t get it again for the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks stunningly traded their highest-paid player — their premier wide receiver and sometime tailback around whom much of the offense has revolved so far this season — to the 1-6 New York Jets on Friday for a still-to-be determined draft choice.
The trade, first reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, happened as the team was leaving for its flight to Sunday’s game at St. Louis.
That’s sure one way to get the Seahawks’ offense re-oriented on handing the ball more to Marshawn Lynch against the Rams.
For the Seahawks to trade the man who has been the centerpiece of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s play-calling this season, a star of February’s Super Bowl who said in August he was finally feeling faster and healthier than he’d been in a decade since high school because of offseason hip surgery, indicates Harvin may have done something so egregious off the field that the Seahawks felt he had to go, pronto.
Friday’s deal is definitely a case of Seattle cutting its losses. For the $18.4 million they paid Harvin, the three draft picks including a first-rounder they sent to Minnesota last year to get him plus some future salary-cap considerations, Seattle got eight games with a wondrous Super Bowl from Harvin, including five this season in which he was 153rd out of all 161 NFL wide receivers who have caught a pass in average yards per reception.
The team saved $7,117,647 in base pay for this season by trading him. That’s the prorated amount left on Harvin’s $11 million salary for 2014, on the contract he signed with Seattle upon his trade here in March 2013. That deal still has four years remaining on it, at salaries of $10.5 million next season, $9.9 million in 2016, $9.95 million in 2017 and $11.15 million in 2018. Harvin’s contract is not guaranteed beyond this season.
Seattle does take an accelerated salary-cap hit of about $7.2 million from Harvin’s $12 million signing bonus it had already paid him, as part of the $25.5 million guaranteed Harvin got when he signed his deal. But they no longer have that $2.4 million of his signing bonus spread against its cap in each of the 2015, ’16 and ’17 league years.
And not having Harvin’s $10.5 million contract in 2015 — assuming they weren’t going to release him or re-negotiate his deal — should help the Seahawks re-sign quarterback Russell Wilson plus linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the next year or two.
It also elevates Doug Baldwin to No. 1 on the depth chart at wide receiver, and perhaps makes him Seattle’s new kickoff returner. Harvin was averaging 23.6 yards per return on 12 runbacks this season. That includes a 46-yarder to begin the season against Green Bay.
Jets general manager John Idzik was the Seahawks’ vice president of football administration from 2007-12. He worked with Seahawks general manager John Schneider here from 2010-12 and was Seattle’s salary-cap guru before the Jets hired him.
The swap is still subject to Harvin passing a routine trade physical with the Jets. Harvin played in just part of one regular-season game last season because of a hip injury, then got a concussion in the NFC divisional playoffs against New Orleans. He missed the NFC title game in January, then returned to star in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win over Denver in February.
This past offseason he had surgery to repair a torn labrum on his hip. The last two weeks he has missed practices on Thursday for what the team listed as a thigh injury, though he started as usual in last week’s loss to Dallas.
So ends the Seahawks’ infatuation with Harvin that began in the negotiations with Minnesota before Schneider and Carroll traded Seattle’s first-round draft choice in 2013, a seventh-round pick that year and a fourth-round selection this year to the Vikings for Harvin in March 2013.
Thanks to a bevy of bubble-screen calls for him by Bevell — Harvin’s offensive coordinator in Minnesota in 2009 and ’10, Harvin’s first two years in the league — that minuscule yards-per-reception average is 6.0 yards on his 22 catches. That’s less than half that of Robert Turbin. Seattle’s hurry-up-offense fill-in for Lynch has averaged 13 yards per catch out of the backfield.
Harvin has 133 receiving yards plus 11 carries for another 92 rushing yards, including a 51-yard sprint down the sidelines for his only touchdown so far this season in the Sept. 14 loss at San Diego. He is averaging only 4.9 yards per catch since his splashy opening against Green Bay last month. STATS Inc. says he is catching the ball, on average, just 1.1 yards past the line of scrimmage this season — essentially a running back split out wide, at a cost of $11 million this season.
But that’s not the Seahawks’ concern anymore.
The way this deal went down was almost as peculiar as the trade itself. The team left on buses from team headquarters for the airport and the flight to St. Louis for Sunday’s game at the Rams just as Fox’s Glazer broke the news of the trade early Friday afternoon. That was about 90 minutes after Harvin finished practicing with the Seahawks inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Immediately at the end of practice, Carroll took the unusual step of disappearing instead of meeting with the media as he normally does as soon as practice ends. He went upstairs in the VMAC, where Schneider’s office is.
Ten minutes later, Carroll reappeared. It seems as though the deal was going down then, or at least that Carroll was learning of its consummation from Schneider upstairs during that time.
Minutes later, Carroll commented on Harvin’s thigh injury and his “questionable” status for Sunday’s game — and didn’t comment on the trade when asked about Harvin’s availability for the Rams game.
“He made it through today,” Carroll said of Harvin.
All the way to the New York Jets.