Back in 2009, the Patriots held the No. 23 overall pick in the NFL draft. Percy Harvin went No. 22 and New England immediately traded down to No. 26, and then out of the first round entirely. That may not have been a coincidence.
The Patriots worked out Harvin prior to the draft, and then-Vikings head coach Brad Childress thought Minnesota stole the Florida product out from under New England. That Florida product is reportedly available again and the Patriots should jump on the opportunity to trade for him.
The Patriots’ first priority this offseason should be to hold on to Wes Welker for the 2013 season. Whether they can do that or not, Harvin would be a great fit in New England.
Harvin has rare NFL ability. He can line up outside or in the slot, he can run out of the backfield and he can return kicks with the best of them. He seemed to finally put all of his potential together in 2012 before going down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Harvin had 62 receptions for 677 yards and three touchdowns and added 22 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown on the ground. All four seasons he’s been in the NFL he’s returned a kickoff back for a touchdown.
If the Patriots move on from Welker, Harvin could take his slot role and run away with it. In 2012, 59.8 percent of Harvin’s snaps came in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. He was fantastic in that role, grabbing 74.3 percent of the passes thrown his way — Welker grabbed 70.4 percent. Harvin dropped just one pass for the Vikings — best in the league for players with at least 80 targets.
Harvin could further add to the Patriots’ ever-changing no-huddle offense, as well. He’s a versatile player with as much value as a running back as a pass catcher. Like with Aaron Hernandez, teams would have to respect the run just as much as the pass even if there’s not a classic running back on the field. Imagine a backfield with both Florida products in it. NFL defenses wouldn’t know what to do.
Of course, Harvin doesn’t come without his troubles, but Bill Belichick has had no problem taking those guys on in the past. Harvin reportedly disrespected his Vikings head coach, Leslie Frasier, enough that Minnesota placed him on injured reserve rather than deal with him.
Typically Belichick tries not to take on too many problem-child types at once, so if they do acquire Harvin, it may mean moving on from Aqib Talib. The Patriots may need to bring on a strong veteran presence at wide receiver — or keep Welker — to avoid dissension within the ranks. Though, Matthew Slater is as good of a veteran presence as you can find in the NFL.
Any way you look at it, the Patriots wide receiving corps will likely look much different in 2013 as it did in years prior. Welker, Julian Edelman and Deion Branch are free agents, and New England has an out in Brandon Lloyd‘s contract if they don’t want to bring him back.
Harvin may not cost much to acquire from the Vikings, and if the price is low enough, it’s well worth the risk that the Patriots may not be able to re-sign him. Harvin is on the last year of his rookie contract and he’s set to make $2.9 million in 2013.
Harvin has plenty of former Florida teammates in New England, and now that Hernandez, Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham have learned the Patriots’ way, they may make good role models for the troubled wideout.
Belichick has shown a fascination with Urban Meyer-coached Gators, and Harvin appears to be the perfect fit for the hurry-up Patriots offense. If Harvin can be kept in check, he could be the latest in a long line of troubled players that find success in New England.
Photo via Facebook/Percy Harvin