After nearly two weeks of assessments from both the statistical and emotional points of view, there is one reality that will ultimately be the judge of the trade: What will the Vikings end up with instead of Harvin?
Harvin signed a five-year, $64.5 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks that included a $12 million signing bonus and $25.5 million in guarantees. That's almost $8 million more in guarantees than the Vikings gave Greg Jennings on a five-year contract that averages $9 million a year, and Harvin's deal averages almost $13 million per season.
Although both of those contracts can essentially end after three seasons without much further salary cap damage if their respective teams decide to cut ties, the guaranteed money and averages mean the Vikings have almost $4 million per season extra to spend on additional players than if they would have signed Harvin to a deal similar to the one he signed with the Seahawks.
In other words, the Vikings essentially made a three-for-one trade. In moving Harvin, they got Jennings, a first-round pick that could easily be used on one of the top rookie receivers in the draft, as well as a third-round pick next year that should produce a solid contributor in the future. That three-for-one doesn't account for the seventh-round pick this year that could be used as ammunition to move up with another pick.
Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee and Tavon Austin of West Virginia are generally considered the most athletic big receiver and slot receiver, respectively, and each are expected to be gone by the time the Vikings' No. 23 overall pick is executed. After that, most analysts figure Cal's Keenan Allen to be the next-best first-round value and an outside receiver that has a game refined enough to contribute decently in his first NFL season.
With Allen, the Vikings would be getting a receiver that isn't much like others they have had recently. He isn't the blazing fast variety, but comparisons to Anquan Boldin by NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock and to Justin Blackmon, last year's sixth overall pick, by ESPN senior producer Greg Cosell project a big-bodied asset that runs strong routes and will battle for the ball.
Last year's No. 23 selection, offensive tackle Riley Reiff, who went to the Detroit Lions, signed a four-year, $8.043 million contract with a $4.25 million signing bonus. That means he will average just more than $2 million per season.
So, even if the Vikings use their 23rd pick on a receiver, allowing them to look elsewhere with the 25th pick they received from Seattle, they will have essentially gotten Jennings for $9 million per season, a quality starting receiver for $2 million a season and still have saved closed to $2 million over what Harvin is averaging.
The Vikings undoubtedly will miss Harvin and the unique set of skills he brings to the field – the valuable ability to play multiple receiver positions, offer the occasional carry out of the backfield and some of the best kickoff returns in the league. But if the situation with Harvin's unhappiness reached the point of no return – and that seems to be the consensus – the Vikings did well to get what they could in return and essentially have the opportunity to replace him with two high-quality receivers, a third-round pick next year and save nearly $2 million per season.
Not bad for a team that only three weeks ago wasn't expected to get much more than a second- or third-round pick for him.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.