Why He Might Get Released
The Jets are due to pay him $10.5 Million next season. None of that money is guaranteed (Seattle ate all of the accelerators when they traded him last October). In addition to that money, there is the conditional draft choice that remains from the 2014 trade with Seattle. If Harvin is on the Jets roster after March 19, 2015, Seattle will get the Jets 4th round pick. If he is released before that, the Jets give up a 6th round pick to Seattle.
The question for the Jets is - how much is Harvin REALLY worth and can the team get better with a 4th rounder in the draft and an extra $10 Million in Free Agency? The details of the Jet’s current dilemma can be found in this ESPN article from last week. Some rumors have flat out said that there is no way the Jets pay Harvin on the current deal. And why would they? It costs them no dead money at all to cut him.
A lot of Jets fans are hoping that the team keeps their 4th round pick and goes after a big gun WR like Maclin or Cobb. In any case, if the Jets are unable to renegotiate Harvin down and are not willing to give up a 4th rounder to keep a playmaker of his talent around, he hits the market. Should this be a player Tom Telesco considers?
Harvin, when healthy, is one of the more versatile, quick, and gifted skill players in the NFL. He can credibly line up outside, in the slot, and in the backfield. In addition, as any Charger fan that watched Super Bowl 48 and the Bolts opening game in 2011 against the Vikings knows, Harvin can be devastating as a kick returner.
While his 4.41 40 speed in the combine is not elite for a receiver, it is still fast enough to get a defense’s attention and Harvin seems to be one of those guys that plays faster in pads. At 5’11" and around 185-190, he is on the small side, but comparable to the Bolts own Eddie Royal (5’10" and 185). Royal’s official combine time in the 40 was 4.39, so to call the two players similar physically is accurate.
Speaking of Royal, he is also a free agent. There has been some debate among the team’s fans about bringing back Royal. The consensus has emerged that "sure if the money is right, go ahead and re-sign him". Harvin may offer an opportunity for an upgrade in the slot receiver position, return game, and some creativity in gadget plays from time to time. If a talent evaluator believes that player A is better and has a larger skill set than Player B, that talent evaluator may want to bring in Player A, even if he will cost a little more money. Telesco may seriously want to think about going after a guy that can impact a game in many different ways.
These fall under two broad categories: Health and (trying to be diplomatic and tactful) "baggage".
Early in his career, Harvin had issues with Migraine Headaches and some peculiar reports of illnesses. Those issues seem to have gone out with the 2010 season. More recently, Harvin had a hip labrum tear that cost him most of the 2013 season. Harvin has had only one season (2011) in which he was active for all 16 games since entering the league in 2009.
The other drawback to Harvin, which I called "baggage", can also be identified as "anger management issues". This dates back to his time in college, when he reportedly grabbed his position coach "by the neck and threw him to the ground". During his time with the Vikings, he was seen arguing with his coaches on many occasions, demanded a trade after an argument, bad-mouthed his QB (Christian Ponder [OK, maybe that can be excused]), and did not sound like a good guy in the locker room.
This continued throughout his time with the Seahawks, although there were some reports that a lot of his fellow Seahawks, despite acknowledging the he was a "pain in the a—", did not like the trade. If anything, his behavior seems to have gotten worse in his time in the NFL; there were no reports of physical altercations in Minnesota, but those surfaced in Seattle. This is a huge concern, but not as big as the last one -- reports that he took himself out of games he started in Seattle and refused to play, despite being healthy.
So What Do You Think?
There is the dilemma for you armchair GM’s out there…
If a player with a lot of talent when he is on the field comes available, do you go after that player? Do you take the chance that your veterans (Rivers and Gates) can keep him under control and that he will stay healthy? Do you think your coaches can integrate him into your offense? Do you want a potentially explosive returner on your team, even if he comes with a temper that is explosive, also?
Harvin on the face of it does not seem like a Telesco/McCoy type of guy. The talent is there, but it comes with some health concerns and a lot of temperament concerns. He may come cheap; which is the price he will pay for getting a "nearly un-coachable" reputation. The risk for the Bolts is that every team in the league will get a chance at both Royal and Harvin, which could mean our favorite team goes into draft time without either player. Which way do you roll the dice?