What A Difference A Year Makes. Or, Why Rick Spielman Is Smarter Than You

Not coming soon to a football field near you. - Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

How different would the Vikings season outlook be if Percy Harvin were still with the Vikings?

What a difference a year makes.

About three hours ago, the NFL tweet heard 'round the world was sent out by Seattle receiver Percy Harvin regarding his injured hip:

First off, no one wishes Harvin a speedier recovery than I do, along with most of the fans of Harvin's former team. Cheering when a guy gets injured is a bit twisted, but that's just me. Percy Harvin is an exciting football player, and with the ball in his hands and some open field, he is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in the NFL. According to Pro Football Talk, Harvin will return 'late in the season', which means 8 games, minimum, with the new injured reserve rules. But depending on who you choose to believe, this could just as easily be a season ending injury.

But if Harvin were still a member of the Minnesota Vikings, there would be a lot of concern right now down at Mankato. Because if the Vikings work things out with Harvin, the off-season is probably a lot different than it turned out to be. Consider the following:

Let's say the Vikings signed Harvin to an extension and not traded him to Seattle. That means they more than likely don't sign Greg Jennings, and they don't have the #25 pick in the NFL draft. Now, could they have signed a lower tier WR? Sure, but it's doubtful that with Harvin in the fold with what would presumably be a hefty contract extension like he got when he was traded to the Seahawks, there would have been any serious pursuit of Jennings, simply for economics if nothing else.

Without the #25 pick they have to choose between either Shariff Floyd or Xavier Rhodes. I still think they pick Floyd, just based on Spielman's post draft comments.

And I'm almost positive they don't trade back into the first round to grab Cordarelle Patterson, either. Could they have done so to get Rhodes? It's not out of the question, as they did just that very thing a year ago to draft Harrison Smith, but would that trade have been as well received, or the Vikings draft perceived as strong, if they only had two picks with no Patterson?

I'm saying no. For one, there wouldn't have been a need for Patterson, and Rhodes probably would have been gone by pick 28. So the good guys only end up with one first round draft pick.

With tragically short arms.

So, entering training camp, the Vikings WR depth would have looked something like this:

Percy Harvin

Jerome Simpson

Jarius Wright

Stephen Burton

Joe Webb

Several folks we'll call 'just a guy' that have as much of a shot at making the 53 man roster as I would.

Factor in that depth chart with Harvin's injury, and we would currently have what we would like to call in the business a 'hot mess'. But GM Rick Spielman made the tough call to trade Harvin, and we are seeing immediate returns from that trade.

Instead of one first round pick, there were three, two of which might turn the defense from 'pretty good' to 'elite'. They have a future replacement for Kevin Williams, and a young cornerback to team up with Chris Cook. And if Cook can stay healthy and Rhodes is as advertised, one of the best, and youngest, cornerback tandems in the NFL.

Instead of an injured superstar receiver who will miss at least half the season while at the same time throwing the receiving corps into chaos, the Vikings now have a veteran receiver on one side, and a guy that looks like he might be as exciting as Harvin on the other, if early returns from Arif are any indication.

Yes, Percy Harvin is no longer a Viking, and as a fan, that kind of bums me out. But the long term outlook for this team is better today than it was a year ago, the wide receiver depth is better, and what was a running problem, both in terms of injuries on the field and drama off of it is now someone else's problem.

Someone else's expensive problem.

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