The Jets cleared over $10 million in cap space by cutting wide receiver Percy Harvin. While Harvin has been hampered by injuries and under-utilization, he has still has blazing speed at 26 years old and should find a new NFL home this offseason.
Percy Harvin was an absolute stud with the Minnesota Vikings in the first four years of his career. His stint with the Seattle Seahawks was brief and hampered by injury, although he did make a huge impact by returning a kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos. Harvin was traded to the Jets were he showed promise but never really stuck, certainly not enough to justify his $10 million price tag.
The Jets made a sensible decision in shedding Harvin’s $10 million cap number. However, they may have created a dangerous situation for themselves by releasing Harvin to the open market for the first time in his career. The worst-case scenarios involve Harvin signing with an AFC East rival and wreaking havoc on the team twice a year.
Harvin is still young and fast, and could serve a multitude of roles in the NFL. He’s not a number one receiver, but could complement or strengthen an existing receiving core. Harvin can also be used creatively out of the backfield and in the screen game with his dynamic speed. And of course, Harvin remains one of the best kick and punt returners in the game.
A team signing Harvin this offseason may very well offer him a one-year deal with little guaranteed money to prove his worth. If Harvin produces, he can leverage that into a bigger contract next offseason.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are rumored to be the most likely destination for Harvin’s services, and quite possibly the most logical. Coach Bill Belichick has done wonders in the past with players surrounded by question marks. Of these question marks are some character issues, with Harvin being described as disruptive to the Settle locker room. Belichick will have none of this and will most certainly straighten out Harvin if he’s signed. Randy Moss came to New England with some baggage, and left with some team receiving records.
On the field, Harvin is a perfect fit for an offense that has allowed Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola to shine. Tom Brady’s methodical short passing game would be vastly improved by Harvin, as he has the speed and vision to turn a five yard catch into a 50 yard touchdown on any play.
Belichick would also likely find other uses for Harvin. Without changing up the traditional offense, Belichick could insert Harvin in the backfield on some plays and utilize him in different places on the field. Harvin would also slot in nicely as the Patriots primary kick returner.
It would be a tough pill to swallow for the Jets if the Patriots nab him and he shines in New England. Harvin could easily swing any divisional matchup with one big kick return or play, and Jets fans will know in the back of their mind that thhey could have prevented this by retaining him.
Another AFC East rival is also looking to shake up their offense with the addition of Harvin. The Buffalo Bills have secured Harvin’s first face-to-face interview according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports. Coach Rex Ryan has whiffed on a few free agent targets including Darrelle Revis, Bilal Powell, and David Harris, but the Jets won’t stand in the way of his coveted free agent this team.
The Bills offense doesn’t have a real identity, which is one potential risk the Bills would face in bringing him in. There is uncertainty at the quarterback position and LeSean McCoy has yet to play a snap in Buffalo. Harvin struggled in New York and Seattle when he was forcefully inserted into the offense. His production needs to come much more naturally.
Signing Harvin would definitely bolster the receiving core, headlined by Sammy Watkins who will enter his sophomore season in 2015. Harvin would improve the passing game whether E.J. Manuel, Matt Cassel, or any other quarterback is under center.
Free agent C.J. Spiller also offered some solid return services to the Bills, which Harvin could step in and fill.
Again, the thought of a division rival potentially signing Harvin and giving new life to his career is an unsettling thought. This is a reality the Jets will have to live with, as it was hardly a tough decision to shed Harvin’s existing $10 million contract.
The Eagles roster is changing by the minute, and it’s hard to say exactly what it will look like in September. One thing is for sure though, head coach Chip Kelly could do scary things with Harvin’s speed on his offense.
Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin are all gone in Philadelphia. The Eagles are retooling their roster in very unique ways, but obviously need to start reloading with offensive firepower. Harvin would represent perhaps the Eagles best receiving option at this point if signed.
Chip Kelly does incredible things on the offensive side of the ball, from Oregon to Philadelphia. There’s no imagining what kind of things Harvin could do in Kelly’s high-octane offense. Say, hypothetically, the Eagles do end drafting Marcus Mariota in this year’s draft. Now imagine Mariota taking the snap, with Harvin to his left and the speedy Darren Sproles to his right. The Eagles could do so many things with Harvin and his blazing speed.
Harvin arriving with the Eagles would keep the receiver out of the AFC East and give him the highest ceiling to potentially succeed next year.
Oakland’s speed obsession aside, Harvin would actually be a pretty good fit with the Raiders.
The Raiders receiving core is growing with former Packers receiver James Jones and recent standout Rod Streater. Oakland is still looking to upgrade at receiver and offensively in general, missing out on WR Randall Cobb and still in pursuit of running back DeMarco Murray.
The Raiders could be a team on the rise of Derek Carr continues to grow under center. The roster is slowly coming into shape, but offensive options are still lacking. Maurice Jones-Drew was not the answer at running back, and the Raiders are far from the favorites to land the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray.
Rather than whiffing on another running back, the Raiders best run game could be a better passing game. Harvin has already shown he can stretch the field as well as create space underneath. With Harvin in the slot and Jones and Streater on the outsides, opposing defenses will have to respect the pass much more. This could open the run game, as well as accelerate Carr’s development with more offensive flexibility.
Oakland does reside in the AFC, but doesn’t seem like an immediate contender. Signing with the Raiders would still keep Harvin from playing the Jets twice a year.