SEATTLE — The acquisition of Percy Harvin is a chance in more than one sense of the word.
It is an opportunity, it is a risk and it is a fresh start all wrapped up in one big transaction, and as Percy Harvin sat on stage at his new team’s headquarters Tuesday afternoon, his new No. 11 jersey in his lap, he embodied the excitement pulsing through this franchise and its fans.
“I can’t express how much this opportunity means to me,” Harvin said.
Seattle’s acquisition of Harvin—which was finalized Tuesday—is the single biggest investment the NFL team has made. The Seahawks gave the biggest contract in team history for a uniquely talented playmaker who has been linked to turbulence going all the way back to high school.
Harvin signed a new contract believed to total $67 million over six years, with as much as $25.5 million guaranteed.
It is the biggest chance the Seahawks have taken under general manager John Schneider because the team is giving up more than money.
Seattle sent Minnesota first-round and seventh-round draft picks this year, and a third-round choice in 2014 for the right to make Harvin one of the five highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL.
It will take years to determine whether this deal was worth it for Seattle. But the stakes are obviously higher than any other personnel decision Schneider has made.
That’s saying something. Seattle has been aggressive, whether giving out second chances to Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch or finding starting cornerback Brandon Browner in the CFL. Last April the Seahawks were scrutinized for drafting one-dimensional pass rusher Bruce Irvin in the first round and undersized quarterback Russell Wilson in the third.
As unorthodox as the Seahawks have been under Schneider, they have not taken big risks. Lynch cost Seattle only two picks in the back half of the draft, and Browner simply would have been cut if he hadn’t been ready for the NFL. And as important as Wilson is to this team, if it hadn’t worked, the Seahawks would only have been out a third-round pick. That’s the same spot the team used a draft choice on eminently forgettable quarterback David Greene in 2005.
The acquisition of Harvin is different.
Seattle doubled down, giving out the biggest contract and giving up more in trade than any deal since Schneider became GM. The deal amounts to a test of both Schneider’s ability to determine the value of a player as well as coach Pete Carroll’s ability to manage that player.
Harvin has been a handful at times. He had disagreements with Minnesota coaches Brad Childress and Leslie Frazier, and Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that Harvin disapproved of quarterback Christian Ponder.
But Harvin showed in the first eight games last season how big of a difference maker he can be. He has gained 7,168 all-purpose yards. Terry Metcalf is the only player in NFL history to amass more during his first four seasons.
“This is a unique player,” Schneider said. “That’s really the way you have to look at it. This guy is special.”
And the Seahawks are in a unique position, both in terms of personnel and payroll, to make the move.
Seattle already had 20 of 22 starters signed through at least 2013. And quarterback, usually the most expensive position on the team, will cost less than $750,000 for at least the next two seasons.
Holding the 25th draft pick of the first round, the Seahawks would have been hard-pressed to pick someone capable of stepping in as a starter. Instead, they used that pick, and a couple of others, to acquire a player they believe can put the team over the top.
This is a chance in every sense of the word.
LARGEST SEAHAWKS CONTRACTS
Percy Harvin, 2013
Six-year contract with a total value of $67 million, more than $25 million guaranteed.
Shaun Alexander, 2006
Eight-year contract with a total value of $62 million. He was paid $18.5 million of that total.
Aaron Curry, 2009
Six-year contract with a total value of $60 million. He was guaranteed $34 million.
Percy Harvin file
Position: wide receiver
Age: 24 (turns 25 on May 28)
Height, weight: 5-11, 184
Birthplace: Chesapeake, Md.
Drafted: 22nd overall by Vikings, 2009
Totals (4 years, 54 games):
(ASTERISK) 280 receptions for 3,302 yards (11.8 avg.)
(ASTERISK) 107 rushes for 683 yards (6.4)
(ASTERISK) 114 kickoff returns for 3,183 yards (27.9)
(ASTERISK) TDs (29): 20 receiving, 5 kickoff returns, 4 rushing
(ASTERISK) Longest plays: KO return (105), reception (53), run (39)
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