By Brad Carroll
The New York Jets pulled off a stunner Friday night, trading with the Seattle Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin. The Jets will give up a conditional draft pick in return for the young star, who has now been traded twice since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft.
The trade makes the Jets immediately better offensively, but it's not a slam-dunk winner for general manager John Idzik. Jon Clayton is reporting the compensation could be anywhere from a second-round pick to a fourth-round pick. A second-rounder would be much too high, and the same can be said for a third-rounder. But for a fourth-round pick, Harvin is worth the shot. Likely, the better Harvin is for the Jets, the higher the compensation, so it's all based on the details.
Harvin, 26, is under contract for four more seasons, with all guaranteed money paid out, meaning if the Jets want to cut him in the future, it won't hurt the team much.
Harvin will be the team's second-best wide receiver, by far, and should also take over the kick and punt return duties. Harvin automatically fills three positions of need for the Jets with one trade.
The most puzzling part of the trade, besides it actually happening, is the timing for both teams. The Jets just lost their sixth straight game Thursday night, 27-25, to the Patriots. The Jets would need a small miracle to make the postseason, starting by winning eight of their final nine games just to have a shot. The Seahawks have a game Sunday, but still decided to trade the wide receiver on a Friday night. Obviously, Harvin had worn out his welcome in Seattle, just as he did in Minnesota after four years.
Here is our Good, Bad and Ugly breakdown of the trade.
The Jets actually have two starting caliber wide receivers now, with Harvin and Eric Decker. With Jeremy Kerley in the slot and David Nelson as a distant fourth option, the Jets have some weapons for Geno Smith to throw the ball to. Harvin can do it all on the field, from catching passes, to running the ball, to returning kicks and punts. The Jets haven't had a playmaker like that in a very long time. Harvin automatically makes his fellow wide receivers better as well, as opposing defenses will have to game plan for multiple players now, not just focusing on stopping Decker. The trade also shows Idzik did finally see a need for an upgrade, and made it happen by trading with his old team. The long break between games gives Harvin a chance to catch up on the Jets offense and hopefully be a big part of the team starting next Sunday against Buffalo. Based on talent alone, the Jets trading for Harvin makes all the sense in the world.
Remember, great teams don't give away great players in the middle of the season, so there's more to this trade than Seattle simply getting a draft pick in the future. Harvin has the reputation as a diva receiver, which the Jets haven't done well with in the past, with Keyshawn Johnson and Santonio Holmes the two biggest examples. Put Harvin in the huddle with Smith, demanding the ball on every play, and there is a chance for fireworks. Harvin had just 22 receptions for 133 yards this season, with 11 rushes for 92 yards added on. He played in less than 60 percent of the team's offensive plays. With a guy as talented as that, playing that limited of a role, the question has to be asked if Harvin is worth the headache at this point. He has now been traded by two teams in his six-year career. In March of 2013, the Seahawks gave up a first- and seventh-round draft pick in the 2013 and a third-rounder in 2014 to the Vikings for Harvin. Less than two years later, the Seahawks are looking past that hefty amount of picks and have traded Harvin to the Jets for maybe a second-rounder. Harvin obviously did not fit in with the Seahawks, and only time will tell if it's the same story with the Jets.
It's all about the money. The Jets will pay $7.1 million to Harvin for the rest of this season and owe him roughly $39 million over the next four years, according to the Seattle Times and some math on my part. That's a ton of money to pay for a wide receiver who isn't a No. 1 option. On top of that, if Harvin does become a locker room distraction, the Jets will continue to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.