Seahawks appear divided on Harvin issue

ST. LOUIS — The reasons for Friday’s stunning trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets include some of what you’ve already read — but not all.

And Seahawks players sounded divided Sunday on whether Harvin was such a bad fit for the team and the locker room that he needed to go two days before their 28-26 loss at the St. Louis Rams.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin confirmed in a candid postgame talk following Sunday’s loss here that he and Harvin got in a physical altercation days before Seattle played its preseason finale at Oakland in late August. The team had said at the time that Harvin was away for “personal reasons” that week. It turns out the Seahawks essentially suspended him for fighting Baldwin.

“Yes, it is true,” Baldwin said of the fight. “However, when you deal with somebody 12, 14 hours a day, you’re going to have issues and conflict. It’s a family in this locker room. Just like family members you’re going to have issues and scuffles.”

Baldwin called the trade “stunning” for him and his teammates, and a “drastic” move.

The News Tribune confirmed Sunday from multiple league sources with knowledge of why the Seahawks gave up on Harvin that he refused to re-enter last week’s loss to Dallas in the fourth quarter. That is partly why No. 5 wide receiver Bryan Walters got the ball for lost yardage on a botched play late in that game.

Asked by The News Tribune following Sunday’s game if that was true Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said: “I’m not going to comment on that. Thanks.”

The TNT also learned from those same sources that Harvin got in a second physical altercation with a teammate, former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, in the days before February’s Super Bowl in which Harvin starred. Tate signed in the offseason with the Detroit Lions.

“Everything that goes on, we keep to ourselves — as we’ve done all along, as we did throughout (this),” Carroll said.

One source that confirmed the fight with Tate refuted national reports that Harvin openly challenged quarterback Russell Wilson in the locker room recently. Reports have portrayed that as the final act that prompted Friday’s stunning trade of Harvin to the Jets for a conditional sixth-round draft choice next spring.

When asked if he saw any evidence that made Harvin a “bad fit” for the Seahawks, Wilson said following Sunday’s game: “That’s nobody’s business.

“The locker room is our locker room. We keep everything in-house. He fought hard for us. He played great football in terms of battling every day.

“For whatever reason it didn’t work here, but I pray for him,” Wilson said. “I pray that he finds peace. I pray that it works for him in New York or wherever else it is. … I wish nothing but the best for Percy. He’s a guy (like Wilson) from Virginia who I respect.”

Was there a “last straw” that hastened the trade? Carroll said no.

“It was a process,” the coach said. “We are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating. We have made a lot of bold decisions and moves over time. It’s not about making the decision. It’s about making the decision right.

“We are going to make the right decision for our club, and move forward, and expect guys to take advantage of the opportunity.”

There appears to be two camps on Harvin inside the locker room: one side that, like Baldwin, clashed with him. And another side that liked having the talented Harvin as a teammate, to hear All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas plus defensive end Cliff Avril tell it Sunday.

Asked by The News Tribune if he saw any evidence that Harvin was a bad fit for the Seahawks, Sherman said Sunday, “I did not.”

“He was a great teammate while he was here,” Sherman added.

And Thomas answered the same question with “No. I thought he was a great guy.”

Avril knew Harvin beyond the field.

“It’s unfortunate,” Avril said. “I mean, he’s a friend of mine and I feel bad in that sense. His girlfriend. His kids. His family — that’s why I feel bad.”

Left tackle Russell Okung said of Harvin, “obviously, we wish he was here.

“He was such a great teammate,” Okung said. “But we’ve got to go on and press forward.”

A split camp: Therein lies the reason Harvin’s gone.

Sitting at his locker and speaking thoughtfully while most teammates were leaving the stadium for Sunday night’s flight home, Baldwin said the trade affected the team against the Rams. The players learned Harvin had been traded as they boarded their team bus to the airport and Friday afternoon’s flight here.

Seattle fell behind 21-3 Sunday before rallying to within two points twice in the fourth quarter.

“There’s obviously a lot of things that went on this week that affected the team in numerous ways, and I think we needed a little more time to warm up,” Baldwin said. “As a competitor you don’t want to admit those things. But as a human being, it is human nature. It took us a little while to get on track.

“And I’m proud that we responded the way we did. (But) as a human, when something that drastic happens, especially right before we get on the bus, obviously there’s going to be some kind of emotional impact. But I feel we handled it to the best of our ability.

“I think it might have been a factor in some ways.”

As for getting only a sixth-round or possibly a fourth-round pick for one of the fastest players in the league, one that cost Seattle $18.4 million and three draft choices for eight games over two injury-filled and tumultuous seasons: The Seahawks were fortunate to get what they got.

The only reason they did is because of general manager John Schneider’s relationship with Jets GM John Idzik. Idzik was the Seahawks’ vice president of football administration from 2007-2012. He was Schneider’s Seahawks’ salary-cap guru before the Jets hired him.

The Seahawks let the Jets know all about why they were becoming the second NFL team in two years after Minnesota before the 2013 season, to give up on Harvin. The Jets returned that favor by giving Seattle what they did, because the Seahawks were preparing to release Harvin had New York not traded with them.

“We’re always trying to get better,” Carroll said. “We thought that was the best move for us down the road. We have a lot of guys at that position. We have a lot of depth at receiver.

“I don’t know if you ever replace a special player like that, totally. But it was the right thing for our team, and we needed to do that.”

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