Last March, the football world was rocked by the news that the Minnesota Vikings had traded receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. In return, the Vikings received the Seahawks' first and seventh-round picks in 2013 and a third-round selection in 2014. The Seahawks then signed Harvin to a six-year, $67 million contract with $25 million of guaranteed money.
Harvin got $11 million of that money this year. . .a year in which he has accumulated exactly one reception for seventeen yards and one kick return. But, hey, at least he was active for Seattle's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Maybe that makes it all worth it or something, I don't know. But the trade that sent Harvin away ultimately allowed the Vikings to make a couple of moves that look to not only be the best for the Vikings longer-term future, but appear to be better for the team right now.
With the pick they received from the Seahawks, which turned out to be #25 overall, the Vikings selected Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes was considered, for last of the 2013 scouting and draft process, to be the top prospect available at the cornerback position, though on draft day he was not the first cornerback taken. After taking a while to get adjusted to the NFL game, he's shown why, as he's just gotten better and better as the season has gone on. The Vikings lined him up against Brandon Marshall for a good portion of yesterday's game against the Chicago Bears, and Marshall. . .who has been a Viking killer since going to the Windy City. . .managed just four catches for 45 yards while being targeted nine times.
Granted, some of that has to do with the fact that Alshon Jeffery was absolutely destroying anything that was put in front of him on the other side, but eventually Josh McCown really just stopped looking in Marshall's direction. Rhodes did a really, really good job on one of the NFL's best wideouts on Sunday, and the Jeffery/Rhodes battles we'll likely be getting starting in 2014 should be great to watch. Don't get me wrong, Xavier Rhodes isn't Darrelle Revis or anything yet. . .after all, there's already an actual Isle of Rhodes. . .but he appears to be going in the right direction.
In addition, with Percy Harvin still on the team, there would have been little to no incentive for the Vikings to trade back up into the first round in a deal with the New England Patriots for the chance to draft Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson was regarded as the top wide receiver in the draft for a pretty good portion of the off-season process as well, but again was not the first player taken at his position. He was regarded as an athletic freak. . .which he is. . .but a guy that would need some refinement after having only spent one year playing "major" college football.
Now, maybe I've overdosing on Kool-Aid or snorting it straight from the package or whatever, but I'm going to make this statement.
Cordarrelle Patterson is better at this stage of his career than Percy Harvin was at the same stage of his career.
Before we break out the pitchforks and torches, let me acknowledge that I know that Harvin's numbers as a rookie, at least as it relates to the offense, dwarf Patterson's numbers if we're going purely off of stats. As a rookie in 2009, Harvin got 75 offensive touches. . .60 receptions for 790 yards and 15 rushes for 135 yards. Thus far, Patterson has just 30 receptions for 254 yards and four rushes for 29 yards. Keep in mind, however, that Harvin had some guy named Brett Favre throwing him the football and a coaching staff that gave him plenty of opportunities. Patterson, on the other hand, has had what can charitably be described as "not Favre" at the quarterback position and a coaching staff that has really limited his role in the offense until the past few weeks.
A good portion of Harvin winning the 2009 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. . .acknowledged or not. . .is what he did on special teams. In that season, Harvin returned 42 kickoffs for 1156 yards (a 27.5 yard/return average) and two touchdowns with a long of 101 yards. Those 1,156 kick return yards represent the current single-season record for the Vikings. Patterson, with four games remaining in this season, has just 68 fewer return yards on 10 fewer returns (32 for 1088, a 34 yard/return average) and two touchdowns with a long of an NFL record-tying 109 yards. And, if you didn't catch it from the Bears game, teams are already scared to death to put the ball in his hands.
Harvin also has quite the extensive injury history. As Freeman points out in his article, Harvin has played in 55 regular season games. He's had 32 occasions where he's been listed as "questionable," "doubtful," or that he missed the game all together. He also had issues with migraine headaches going all the way back to college. Patterson, to this point. . .knocks on wood. . .has not had those sorts of issues.
Oh, and we still have that extra third-round pick to play with in the 2014 draft. Granted, it's going to be a low third-rounder, but it's still nice to have it in pocket.
When this trade first went down back in March, it appeared that the Vikings were getting rid of an all-world, and mercurial, talent in Percy Harvin and not getting much in return. As the 2013 season has worn on, however, it appears as though Rick Spielman and company have gotten the best of this one. We may not have been big fans of how it went down or anything, but it's tough to argue with the results at this point.