If the Vikings are looking to trade Percy Harvin, as a WCCO report over the weekend suggests, there are numerous questions that will have to be asked: What is his value to other teams, what is his value to the Vikings, and how much better did Harvin make the Vikings?
Harvin's value to other teams would only matter when it came down to the highest bidder, and we won't accurately know that when and if a trade is made. But his value to the Vikings can be assessed by looking at their statistics with and without him.
Harvin ended the 2012 season with 62 catches for 677 yards and three touchdowns. Despite missing the final seven games, he still led the team in receptions and yards. Had he played all 16 games, those numbers would have extrapolated to 110 catches for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers are good enough to be considered a No. 1 receiver.
But how much did Harvin help Christian Ponder in 2012? Those numbers are negligible. While Ponder's numbers dropped some without Harvin, the quarterback's rating remained close to the same.
With Harvin for the first nine games of the season, Ponder completed 182 passes for 1,806 yards, 10 touchdowns and a passer rating of 81.9. Without Harvin for the last seven games, Ponder completed 118 passes for 1,129 yards, eight touchdowns and a passer rating of 80.2. Ponder's completion percentage dropped from 64.1 with Harvin to 59.2 without him and his yards per attempt dropped 0.69.
Another way to look at it is how much Ponder meant to Harvin, and the only way to judge that is to go back and look at the 2011 season, too, when Donovan McNabb was the starter for the first six games. In those six appearances to start the season, Harvin had 25 catches for 261 yards (10.44 yards-per-catch average), a long of 22 yards and no touchdowns. When Ponder replaced McNabb as the starter for the final 10 games, Harvin's numbers ballooned to 62 catches for 706 yards (11.39 yards per catch), a long of 52 yards and six touchdowns.
Harvin's numbers in 2011 with Ponder are comparable to his numbers in 2012 – 62 catches for 677 yards (10.9-yard average), a long of 45 yards and three touchdowns.
Jarius Wright was inactive for every game that Harvin was active at the start of the 2012 season. But in the Vikings' first game without Harvin, Wright had a 54-yard reception and he proceeded to catch 22 passes for 310 yards. In his final game of the regular season, Wright had a 65-yard reception. If Wright's numbers are extrapolated over a 16-game season, he would have 50 catches for 709 yards – certainly not in Harvin's class, but that still would have led the Vikings in receiving yardage.
Wright wasn't nearly as active as Harvin in the run game, however. Harvin averaged about 2½ carries per game, Wright about 1½ as he became accustomed to the offense as a rookie.
If Harvin isn't with the team in 2013, his absence might be felt most in the return game, a role which previously put him in the Pro Bowl. He was never better at it when given the opportunity last year. He had 16 returns that averaged a whopping 35.9 yards, including a 105-yarder for a touchdown. When Harvin went down, Marcus Sherels took over, returning 16 kicks for a 26.4-yard average.
So, what is Harvin worth to the Vikings? They were 5-4 with him to start the 2012 season and 5-2 without him, but because of the many roles he so uniquely fills it's difficult to determine his value to the team. He is a reliable, dynamic receiver adept at yards after the catch, a dangerous change-of-pace runner and a fantastic kickoff returner. Head coach Leslie Frazier knows how much other coaches around the league feared Harvin, but placing value on game-planning nightmare is hard to quantify.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
What's Harvin's value … to the Vikings?
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