The Minnesota Vikings may have found a cure to the anticipated headache of re-signing wide receiver Percy Harvin.
According to multiple reports, the Vikings are one of the lead suitors for free agent wideout Mike Wallace. While quarterback Christian Ponder would be armed with a pair of big-play threats, Minnesota could very well be preparing itself to part ways with Harvin.
Harvin, who is set to be a free agent after the 2013 season, is itching for a new deal now. And if the Vikings don't give Harvin an extension this offseason, it's believed he may hold out just like Vincent Jackson did with San Diego in 2010, according to a team source.
The Vikings fear that the strong-willed Harvin may play the absolute minimum required to get to free agency and that he'll create such a stink that the last thing the Vikings will consider is franchising him. Moreover, this is not as simple as giving Harvin a contract in line with what Jackson received a year ago (five years, $55.55 million) from Tampa Bay or what Dwayne Bowe got last week (five years, $56 million) from Kansas City.
While the Vikings and Harvin's agent, Joel Segal, have yet to exchange contract proposals, it's believed that Harvin wants money closer to what Calvin Johnson got from Detroit in 2012 (eight years, $132 million) than to Jackson or Bowe. That's an average of $16.5 million per year compared to a little more than $11 million for Jackson and Bowe. As one person put it about Harvin, he considers himself a "special" player and executives around the league have fed that attitude by telling people close to him how difficult it is to cover Harvin.
While Harvin has never reached 1,000 yards receiving or exceeded six receiving touchdowns in a season, he's a unique player with great quickness and speed. He's one of the league's best run-after-the-catch players (he averaged 8.9 yards after the catch last season) and has scored five touchdowns on kickoff returns in his four seasons. He has also been effectively used as a running back. In four seasons, he has carried the ball 107 times for 683 yards and four touchdowns.
As rumors of Harvin being on the trade block have surfaced this offseason, numerous teams have been linked to him, including New England and San Francisco.
Thus, you have to wonder if the Vikings, who have a pretty strong understanding of the situation based on what happened last offseason, are willing to trade Harvin if they can sign an alternative? Harvin threatened to walk out on the team last offseason after hearing that former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez received a contract extension after only two years.
"[The Vikings are] in a tough spot," one source said. "If you don't take some aggressive action, this could get really bad."
In particular, the Vikings don't want this situation to inhibit the momentum they built in making the playoffs last season. That playoff run came despite losing Harvin to injury after nine games, at which point he had 62 catches for 677 yards. Those numbers were good enough that Harvin still led the team in catches and receiving yards at the end of the season.
Adding to the tension around Harvin is that he reportedly got into a shouting match with Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier. That comes after a history of run-ins with coaches at Florida. Harvin once refused to do a conditioning run. That forced former Florida coach Urban Meyer to change his conditioning routine, allowing players to play basketball instead to stay in shape.
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