NFL Offseason 2013: Should the Redskins Trade for Percy Harvin?

Patrick McDermott

Percy Harvin is the biggest name being thrown around on this offseason’s trading block. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t explore the possibility of Harvin in a Redskins uniform, so I examined the complex issue of choosing whether or not to pursue the talented, but at times temperamental, receiver.

The Cases For

Talent: You get one of the most elusive receivers in the game today who, by the way, can line up just about anywhere. Put him outside, in the slot, or in the backfield and you can instantly create a mismatch nightmare for whatever look the defense gives you. He’s a moveable chess piece that would be a offensive coordinator’s dream. One of Percy Harvin’s biggest problems with the Vikings organization is that he felt misused in a very straight-forward offense, but that wouldn’t be the case with Mike and Kyle Shanahan. They are innovative coaches with the ability to scheme toward a player’s strengths, and they understand that Harvin is no ordinary player. The possibilities with him are endless.

Harvin had Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, but there wasn’t much of a supporting cast for either of them. He would be coming to an already dangerous Redskins offense consisting of Pierre Garcon, Alfred Morris and Fred Davis, not to mention a guy named Robert Griffin III distributing the ball. That personnel of players at skill positions is potentially unstoppable, and that potential alone warrants at least a glance in Harvin’s direction from the Redskins front office.

Money: Harvin is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings, and the team he is traded to would have to honor that. Currently, he is in his final year of a five-year, $12.5 million deal and is due to be paid a manageable $2.9 million in 2013. All of that can change, however, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Draft Picks: The rumor mill has it that Harvin could be had for just a second and fourth round pick. That's no small potatoes, but you're giving up day-two picks for a day-one talent. I know Redskins fans are weary of giving up picks after enduring the Vinny Cerrato era, but this wouldn’t be your run-of-the-mill Vinny Cerrato deal. There would be no aging player past his prime acquired in exchange for these picks. You’re getting a 24-year-old phenom entering the prime years of his career.

And it’s true that building a team should be draft-centric, but that doesn’t mean draft-exclusive. Drafting 21 players over the past two seasons shows the Redskins are willing to do that, but at some point you have to just let those guys play and see what you have instead of stockpiling on top of the picks you spent. With a division title now under the new regime’s belt, it’s time to stockpile quality over quantity.

Players like Harvin do not come up in every draft, and there’s no guarantee that anyone in the 2013 draft becomes him. Is it possible? Of course it is. But a second and fourth rounder for a player of Harvin’s caliber is tantalizing.

The Cases Against

Future Costs: So…about that $2.9 million that Harvin’s due: That could escalate. Reports are that Harvin is willing to hold out for a bigger deal, but it’s important to figure out why. Of course money’s the main factor, but we’re talking about a player who really wants out of Minnesota. Why would he cooperate in any way, shape or form during contract negotiations when he’s already made it clear he wants out? Could he be more accommodating with another team? I don’t have the answer to that question, but even if he is willing to not hold out in 2013, there still lies the problem that you have a talented receiver who could command a huge contract down the road from a team that all-too-well knows what it’s like to be in salary-cap hell.

Bad Behavior: This, to me, could be the biggest reason the Redskins do not pursue Harvin. He has acted out against the only two head coaches he has ever had, and if there’s one message that head coach Mike Shanahan has gotten across to his locker room, it’s that distracting players have no place on his team (see: Haynesworth, Albert).

If you believe that the best indication of the future is the past, then Harvin wouldn’t be a very encouraging get. His behavioral problems predate his Viking days, when he skipped workouts at the University of Florida, failed a drug test and got into heated arguments with his coaches even back then.

It’s possible Harvin can turn a new leaf, so I’m not saying with certainty that Harvin would be a distraction in Washington. But if he became one, it would be counterproductive to everything Mike Shanahan has worked hard to build in terms of team character.

The Injuries: Harvin missed the last seven games of the season with a severely sprained ankle, but this wouldn’t have a huge bearing on my decision to sign him if GM Dan was in the front office. Recently-injured does not necessarily mean injury-prone, and prior to the 2012 season, Harvin missed just two games in his NFL career. Migraines sidelined him for that period of time, but haven’t been an issue since then.

It is, however, worth mentioning that ankle injuries plagued him throughout college, so he’s no stranger to showing up on the injury report. Harvin is not a fragile player by any means, but at 184 pounds, you have to wonder just how long he could play at his peak, and is that shortened peak worth a big contract from the Redskins?

All and all, this is a risky move, but the payoff could be massive. There are lots of issues to consider, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, so feel free to give your input in the comments section or reach me on Twitter.

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