When the Seattle Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin in 2013, they had to give up a small fortune.
They traded a 2013 first-round pick, a 2014 third-round pick, and a 2013 seventh-round pick to Minnesota. They also had to give Harvin a six-year, $64-million contract extension, of which they paid out $19 million.
It was the type of all-in move that only makes sense if you're convinced you're good enough to win a Super Bowl, which the Seahawks very much were, even without Harvin.
The trade went about as badly as it could have gone.
He missed 15 regular season games due to injury — more than twice the number of regular season games he played in. He scored two touchdowns, catching a measly 27 balls for 176 yards. While he was hurt the Seahawks built a successful offense that he had trouble assimilating back into. Along the way he fought teammates, pulled himself out of games, and eventually got shipped off to New York.
Trading for Harvin hurt Seattle's depth and ability to re-sign its own free agents. Minnesota drafted two significant contributors (Xavier Rhodes and Jerick McKinnon) with those three Seattle draft picks. For a team that has drafted as brilliantly as the Seahawks, those lost picks loom large. As Bill Barnwell pointed out in his column on Monday, Seattle's relative struggles on defense this year have a lot to do with depth. Defensive linemen Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, and Clinton McDonald all left in free agency. So did defensive backs Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond and wide receiver Golden Tate. Harvin's $11 million in guaranteed 2014 salary was at least part of the reason they couldn't bring some of those guys back.
The Seahawks won a Super Bowl in spite of the Harvin trade, not because of it, and now they're facing the consequences.
The Jets didn't have to pay anywhere near as much for Harvin as Seattle did in 2013. Whereas the Seattle-Minnesota trade came with a boatload of guaranteed picks and money, this Jets-Seahawks trade comes with almost no strings attached.
The Jets have to pay Harvin the $6.5 million he has left on his 2014 salary. But New York is nearly $20 million below the salary cap. It's not like they were going to use that money for anything else at this point. There's essentially no opportunity cost in taking Harvin's deal, at least for this year.
The rest of Harvin's deal (which is legitimately massive at ~$10.3 million per year for four years) is unguaranteed. The Jets can cut him without consequence after this season. Even if they keep him, they'll likely renegotiate his remaining contract down to a lower figure, SI's Peter King thinks.
The draft pick the Jets gave up — a fourth-rounder if Harvin is on the team in 2015 or a sixth-rounder if the Jets cut him — is the only real risk associated with the trade, and even that isn't very consequential.
Harvin is the type of player you have to build your offense around. Given the Jets struggles on that side of the ball in recent years, they're in a position to do just that.
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