What the Percy Harvin Trade Means

John Idzik stuck to his M.O. and made a very low-risk extremely high-reward trade for Percy Harvin. Harvin is an extremely unique and dangerous weapon that immediately makes the Jets offense more dangerous.

The Jets will send a conditional (fourth-to-sixth round) draft pick in return for Harvin and they will take on his $7 million salary for the rest of the year but owe him no additional guaranteed money going past this year. If it doesn’t work out the Jets can move on with minimal loss, if it does they will certainly look to rework his contract to bring his cap number down.

With such little risk involved it’s amazing people have so many questions/concerns about the trade, but this is the world we live in and if the questions are being asked we might as well try and answer them.

What makes him so dangerous and so unique?

Harvin is listed as a receiver but he’s not a traditional receiver. He has limitations as a receiver but what makes him such a dangerous weapon is he can literally beat defenses from any position on the field.

With his speed he can stretch the defense vertically, he can beat defenses on the edge with quick screens or take a short slant or crossing route for big gains down field. He can beat defenses from the backfield as a running back or on Jet sweeps and his mere presence opens up the entire field for the rest of the offense because defenses have to respect his play-making ability.

But if I was to use one word that would explain why he’s so unique and dangerous that word would be balance. The way Harvin runs with such perfect balance is his biggest attribute. Yes, he’s fast and strong (with a perfect balance of the two traits) but the way he can glide around the field and stay balanced to smoothly execute sharp cuts, with no wasted motion, and instantly change direction is what makes him such an explosive play-maker.

Watch the way Harvin runs, he runs like a skier working his way between moguls. He’ll run with his body at a 30 degree angle and hit a sharp cut upfield without missing a beat. It’s the balance in his body control combined with his strength and speed that makes him so unique.

But isn’t he always hurt?

Well, yes. Yes he is. Obviously he’s not always hurt, but he does get hurt a lot. He only played one regular season game for the Seahawks last year (also played in the Super Bowl where he returned a kick for a touchdown) and he had all types of injury issues, including migraines, while in Minnesota.

This is a fair concern. After all it doesn’t matter how good someone is if they can’t play they aren’t any better than you or I. However because of the amount of cap space the Jets have they can keep Harvin for the future and still not have it prevent them from signing more weapons. Idzik can take measures to ensure the team can still be effective if he misses games and be happy to take whatever they can get from Harvin on top.

Isn’t he a locker room cancer? Basically he’s just Tone II?

I refuse to judge players strictly off of second and third-hand accounts. I’ve seen how things can be wildly misconstrued by the media and it’d be naive to think that only happens in New York. But Idzik doesn’t have that luxury, he has access to much more accurate and reliable sources and according to reports Seahawks GM John Schneider didn’t hide anything from Idzik.

One thing to remember is to take a lot of what you hear after a star play gets cut or traded with a big heaping pile of salt. The Seahawks have to sell their fan base on a reason for the trade beyond just ‘we have to pay our quarterback next year.’ Just as DeSean Jackson’s release from Philly was followed by rumors of ‘gang associations’ (which had been following since college but never resurfaced until after the Eagles released him) we now hear about how difficult Harvin was to deal within the locker room.

Clearly not everyone feels this way as many of his teammates have some support for him and disappointment with the trade. Hell even Doug Baldwin, one of the players Harvin fought with, doesn’t seem like he agreed with the trade.

Timing, why now?

The most common complaint about the trade from Jets fan is why wasn’t this trade made weeks ago? The short answer is because it wasn’t available weeks ago, at least not at this price. The Seahawks reportedly asked the Broncos for Julius Thomas and asked the Browns for Jordan Cameron. Basically they were acting like my friend Noah making a fantasy football trade but unlike Noah the Seahawks finally came to their senses and got what they could for Harvin instead of continuing to be unreasonable.

The followup to the why not weeks ago question was, what’s the point? The season is already over. Okay, sure while the season isn’t technically over, playoffs are still a mathematical possibility, reality says this Jets team is going to lose at least two more games this year and miss the playoffs. But as I said all offseason this team isn’t built to be a winning playoff team this year, they’re built to tread water this year and be a winning playoff team next year and beyond. This would be a pointless trade if they stopped playing football next year, but they don’t. The NFL and the Jets will still play football next year and this trade helps them evaluate their offense this season and gives them the option to keep such a unique and dangerous weapon for the future.

So, it’s not a panic move?

I don’t even understand how this is a thought. How can getting an explosive play-maker for a team that everyone agreed needs explosive play-makers now be considered a panic move? Idzik didn’t need to make a move like this to save his job, he’s in year two of being a GM he wasn’t losing his job this year anyway, no matter how bad some of you fans want that to be the case.

This is also a stereotypical Idzik move. Idzik didn’t choose to stay at $20 million under the cap just because he didn’t feel like spending money. He choose to stay so far under the cap because he didn’t like his options at the time (for example Idzik was willing to pay Vontae Davis $10 million a season but he ultimately choose to stay with the Colts. Idzik however wasn’t willing to go beyond a one-year prove it deal for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).

One of the advantages of keeping that much cap space is the ability to make moves like this when they become available.

This means Geno has no more excuses now right?

No, this is silly. One less excuse? Sure, but Harvin isn’t a true number one receiver, he isn’t a just run deep and have the quarterback chuck it and he’ll win the jump ball type of receiver. Harvin also isn’t an offensive lineman.

This will certainly make life for Smith and the Jets offense easier, but Smith is still just a second-year quarterback who everyone agreed was extremely raw coming out of college. The idea that Smith should be anywhere near a finished product by now is extremely naive.

Smith’s critics like to point out that Tom Brady succeeds without elite receivers, of course he does he’s Tom Brady. One of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and a 15-year veteran. Smith is halfway through his second-year coming out of the Air-Raid offense at West Virginia, it was never going to be a smooth transition.

What this trade does for Smith is it gives him less room for error. Smith should be able to make use of such a dangerous weapon and take advantage of opportunities presented elsewhere because of the attention that will be paid to Harvin. This trade will make it easier to evaluate Smith and if he doesn’t show consistent improvement the Jets will have to start preparing backup plans, not temporary backup plans for the season like Michael Vick, but backup plans for the future.

But there aren’t any can’t miss quarterback prospects coming out in next year’s draft so don’t expect the Jets to draft a definite replacement for Smith next year. And I know many of you are fond of the idea of signing Brian Hoyer but if Hoyer is available you probably aren’t going to want him then. If Hoyer finishes out the season strong it’s unlikely the Browns will let him walk (of course it is the Browns and that front office/ownership has made numerous head-scratching decision so you never know but it’s not something I’d count on).

If Smith can’t show any improvement with Harvin then of course it’s more than cause for concern, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the last we’ll see of him.

What does this mean for Rex?

The two most common ways people seem to be looking at this are, this is either a move to give another weapon to evaluate Ryan, Smith and Marty Mornhinweg or Idzik is starting to stock pile weapons for his next coach. I don’t think it really means either.

People seem to think a decision of Ryan’s future with the Jets needs to be made this offseason, but he’s signed through the 2016 season. Which means Idzik could keep Ryan through next season before he would be entering the lame-duck year. I’m not even going to wade into the discussion of if Ryan should be fired or not this offseason now I’m just pointing out that he doesn’t have to be either fired or extended this offseason.

With the roster Idzik gave Ryan compounded with the injuries in the secondary I still think there’s a very good possibility that Ryan will return next year, assuming that they Jets can go 6-3, or at least 5-4, over their final nine game stretch of the season.

But fans are impatient, with the playoffs very unlikely what does this trade do for us now?

Besides the fact that this move could make the Jets a better team in the future and will allow them to address other needs (such as offensive line and the secondary) and will help us all properly evaluate Smith, this team just got infinitely more exciting. With the playoffs a near impossibility at least you have another reason to watch and imagine the possibilities for the future.

Hope, isn’t that what the NFL is all about?

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