MINNEAPOLIS — Percy Harvin is headed to Seattle, and Adrian Peterson isn’t happy about it.
Harvin, Minnesota’s moody and multi-talented young wide receiver, will join the Seahawks for a package of draft picks that includes Seattle’s first-round selection next month, No. 25 overall. Two people with knowledge of the deal confirmed the details Monday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade won’t be official until the league’s new year begins Tuesday and Harvin passes a physical.
The 24-year-old Harvin will give second-year quarterback Russell Wilson a dynamic playmaker not yet at his peak. His departure from Minnesota will leave an even bigger void in a group of receivers that was already one of the thinnest in the NFL — and at least one disappointed former teammate in Peterson, the star running back and league MVP.
“The best all around player I ever seen or you’ll ever see! Goes to Seattle! I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!” Peterson posted on Twitter.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, in an interview on SiriusXM satellite radio, expressed his concern, too.
“I mean, I can’t say I’m just happy about it. Who knows how much longer I have in Minnesota?” Williams said, adding: “I can’t tell you one receiver that’s on the team right now.”
Foxsports.com first reported the trade, which will also send Seattle’s seventh-round pick this year and third-round selection in 2014 to Minnesota for Harvin, who was producing at an All-Pro level until badly spraining his left ankle last Nov. 4 in a game at Seattle. He was placed on injured reserve a month later, abruptly ending a season that began so strongly. He led the NFL in total yards, including rushing, receiving and returning, at the time of his injury.
Harvin first caused a stir June 19 when he expressed unspecified dissatisfaction with “some things” about the team. The next day, Harvin asked to be traded, only to quietly rescind the request and show up at training camp as if nothing had happened. Harvin clarified his feelings a bit after the season started by acknowledging a lack of understanding about his role in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s scheme.
The Vikings lined him up all over the field, including as a running back, but to preserve his health they often limited his snaps and turns as a kickoff returner. Harvin was by far quarterback Christian Ponder’s favorite target, but the struggles of the passing attack that increased around midseason did not help Harvin’s mood. He was seen shouting at coach Leslie Frazier on the sideline after one failed possession inside the 20-yard line in the last game he played for the Vikings. Ponder passed for only 63 yards in that game, a 30-20 loss, but the Vikings rallied behind Peterson’s record-setting performances to win their last four games and finish 10-6 for a spot in the playoffs.
Harvin will enter the fifth and final season of his rookie deal with a $2.9 million salary that’s well under market value. The Vikings have a history of giving their core players new contracts before they enter the final years of their current deals, and that obviously didn’t happen with Harvin. As a slot receiver, as exceptional and varied as his skills are, Harvin didn’t give them the tall, fast, game-breaking target on the outside that they’ve been lacking since they got rid of Randy Moss.
The other long-term concern about Harvin is his punishing, hard-nosed running style.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds with a history of debilitating migraine headaches, Harvin could be at more of an injury risk as his career moves on because so many of his yards come after first contact. For all the toughness he brings to a team — in contrast to Moss, whose effort was sometimes underwhelming — Harvin tries to run through tacklers as often as he tries to dodge them. Though he missed only three games in 3½ seasons until hurting his ankle, Harvin missed dozens of practices over those years because of the migraines.
The Vikings now have more room under the salary cap to pursue one of the free agents on the market that opens Tuesday, with Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace the best available but sure-to-be-expensive options. Either way, they’ll make wide receivers a primary focus of the draft.
Stephen Burton, Greg Childs, Chris Summers and Jarius Wright are the only receivers currently on the roster. Wright, a rookie last season who replaced Harvin in the slot after the injury, is the only one with more than 73 yards receiving for his career.
The Seahawks, who also signed former Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice two years ago, have another valuable piece in their bid to take the NFC title away from San Francisco. The 49ers were thought to have interest in Harvin, too.
“He’s so good you just have to showcase him, and that’s what they’re doing,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in October before the Vikings-Seahawks game. Carroll, who recruited Harvin out of high school when he was at USC, added: “He’s a fantastic player.”
Rice and Golden Tate are the top two returning receivers for the Seahawks, who finished 11-5 and lost in the second round of the playoffs. In 2009 when Brett Favre came out of retirement to join the Vikings, Rice racked up a career-high 1,312 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. Harvin had 790 yards and six scores.