Yesterday I expressed a popular sentiment as thoroughly as I could- the Vikings should not, and therefore will not, trade Percy Harvin because his value commensurate to the team simply cannot be received from someone else. Today I will explain why I do not think the Vikings should or will trade Harvin from a philosophical perspective.
I started yesterday by briefly reviewing Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier's comments after Harvin's exit physical, and concluded with the thought that perhaps it doesn't matter what Frazier thinks because it's Spielman's decision. I then broke down therefore from the GM's perspective why a trade would be a bad idea.
But I did also point out that I personally feel, as I have seen and heard thus far in the post-ToA era, that Spielman is also not likely to make such a major move if Frazier is adamantly against it. If Frazier believes that Harvin is crucial to our success, and that he and the team can work and coexist with Harvin, then I doubt Spielman moves him (short of some sort of insane trade offer- which, again and again, won't happen).
So let's review it from Frazier's perspective. Obviously it's not been all roses and puppy dogs during their time together: we all saw Harvin explode on Frazier on the sidelines during the Seahawks game, and reports then surfaced a few months later that just prior to being placed on IR he exploded on Frazier again. Coming out in the report claiming that the Vikings are indeed trying to trade Harvin was the fact that the second blow-up happened in front of other teammates, who were naturally displeased. It may be one thing to throw a weight at Brad Childress, a highly unpopular and ineffective coach; but Frazier is well regarded in the locker room and was also a candidate for Coach of the Year (although even the homer in me agrees with Bruce Arians having received it). The report then furthered the oft-circulated conspiracy theory that this blow up is actually what led to Harvin going on IR; essentially dismissing him from the team without necessarily publicizing why.
That said, as vague as Frazier's comments were, he did state that he told Harvin he loved him and wanted him back next year. Unless Harvin spat in his face as a response, it seems to me like things might have smoothed over some between the two. Granted there's always going to be the possibility that things will heat up again in the future- once a prima donna, always a prima donna. But the big question remains- how much does Frazier care about that?
Prior to Harvin's outbursts against him this season, it appeared that the two had a very good relationship. Frazier named him to his leadership council when he assumed the title of interim head coach, and it was Frazier who spoke to Harvin and calmed him down after his offseason tirade against the team. It's been pointed out that if you cannot get along with Frazier, you can't get along with anyone.
But I think the idea that the two cannot coexist is somewhat insulting to Frazier. To me, it implies that he cannot handle a player who doesn't like him or has outbursts against him. As soft-spoken and even-keeled as Frazier may be, as much of a player's coach as he is known for, I also do not take him as weak or soft. While some have taken the angle that the team doesn't want prima donnas around for locker room cohesiveness, we forget that the NFL is filled with these man-children, in particular at the WR position. Frazier took the angle of working with Chris Cook after his escapades with the law two seasons ago, and I would have to imagine that was a bit harder for Frazier than working with someone who is a bit of a brat. Frazier, like every NFL HC, has to accept that in a locker room of 53 professional football players, you're going to have a few bad apples. And when it's someone as uber-talented as Harvin- who is far better at his position than Cook is at his (not a knock against Cook mind you, just a statement of fact)- he'll find a way to deal with it.
I wrote a few months ago how I do not feel Harvin is a threat to be a locker room cancer, and I mentioned it in the comments for my initial Harvin-being-traded piece a few days ago. Allow me to briefly recap. Randy Moss was problematic on and off the field- Harvin is only problematic off of it. There isn't an ounce of quit in this guy when he's on the field, and even better, he's no ball hog: he will as happily lay a vicious block to spring someone else as he will charge for the end zone when the pigskin's in his hands. The guy plays football, and he plays it so fiercely in all aspects that you'd almost wish sometimes that he'd lay up a bit to preserve his health. If you've got a football player who allows locker room issues or contract issues or whatever affect his play on the field, that's one thing: but that doesn't happen with Sir Percival.
Furthermore, explosion at Frazier aside, Harvin doesn't appear to be a guy who complains loudly to other players about whatever is bugging him. Remember, Adrian Peterson didn't even know Harvin was having issues during his off-season tirade: this indicates naturally that he wasn't telling teammates. You can in some senses possibly take that as a bit of a bad thing, but to me it means he won't become a locker room cancer if unhappy. Sure, he might mope and be moody, but in a locker room featuring player leaders like Peterson, Jared Allen, and Antoine Winfield- not to mention emerging ones such as Matt Kalil- that's not going to cause major problems.
So we've got a guy who still plays his heart out even when unhappy, and isn't likely to drag the locker room down. So it all comes back to this- can Frazier handle the guy, coexist with him? Honestly short of Harvin refusing to sign a fair contract extension, I truly believe the answer is yes. I have a lot of faith in our HC in that regard. I don't think of him as someone who can't handle immense talent that may come with personality baggage.
So it concludes much the same way as the first part of this- I still just don't think Harvin is going anywhere. And of course there is the caveat that is the same: I don't personally know Harvin and I have no inside information on what he's thinking, so if he just fully intends on bolting anyways, then all of this is moot. Is that Harvin's intention? Again I haven't a clue, but I'm not sure why that would be. Unless for some reason he can't stand Frazier's guts (which I don't believe to be the case), then him being traded is a high-risk proposition for him. He leaves a team where he was a focal player, a team that reached the playoffs this year and for whom all signs are currently pointing up. If he's traded there's no telling where he goes, and chances are good it won't be a pleasant change. Think about it: last time we discussed a team drafting top 10 being a landing place. Sure, the NFL is filled with parity, and as we ourselves experienced, the difference between drafting in the top 5 and being in the playoffs can be just a single season. But there are also your Chiefs, your Raiders, your teams that just aren't competitive and probably won't be for a bit longer. And if Harvin's chances land him there, how happy would he be then? Surely this has occurred to him. Short of him trying to dictate to whom he's traded- which doesn't often work- he's stuck going to the highest bidder, and that's a big gamble for him.
But who knows. Maybe this really is it. I've outlined now all of the reasons I don't think that's the case; but it's entirely possible I am dead wrong. Heck, with my luck, he'll be traded the second I hit "Approve and Publish" on the story editor.