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Vikings should keep Harvin ... for now

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Posted Feb. 07, 2013 @ 5:42 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Percy Harvin has not been a team player, at least not for the duration of his time in Minnesota. At various points, he has been alternately the Vikings’ MVP and their biggest headache.

At some point, the Vikings’ brass has to ask itself — at what cost do we keep putting up with this?

There is some value and sense with a trade. Harvin’s strong recent play is still fresh in league folks’ minds. There are not a ton of young, versatile, game-breaking receivers on the open market or up for the draft. And word is that the Vikings, despite all of Harvin’s stepping out against them over the past four years, have actually done a good job bottling up even more internal strife than has been reported.

But let’s remind people, this is a player who once threw a weight at Brad Childress and whose devotion quickly went south after the team bailed on the Randy Moss experiment. Harvin also blew up — twice, reports say — at head coach Leslie Frazier, who only can be described as one of the NFL’s most likeable people by everyone who has met him.

Decisions, decisions.

Trading Harvin would be easy if they had another wideout or two who were ready to break out. They do not. They have a few decent pass catchers in TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Jarius Wright, but both can be described as complementary parts. As in complementary to a player such as Harvin. A properly focused Harvin, that is.

League observers feel he needs to go somewhere like New England, where many a disenchanted player has landed and gotten with the program. Perhaps he’ll never get it in Minnesota, where Harvin already has burned many a bridge and might feel empowered and comfortable to continue doing so.

This is a player, after all, who has expressed his unhappiness with the team, requested a trade, later rescinded such request (and almost scoffed at those who questioned his questioning) and who got hurt and subsequently left the team during a playoff run to heal on his own away from teammates in his home state of Florida.

He’s 24. He’s insanely talented. And he’s a pain in the ass.

There’s no other way to say it. He’s the hot girlfriend who also is high maintenance. There’s a can’t-live-with-him, can’t-live-without-him quality to Harvin. But the good news is that the Vikings can sit tight for now and try to, as they always have with Harvin, let the waters calm.

It worked prior to the draft when those trade demands fell on deaf ears for GM Rick Spielman. He weathered the storm and got eight great games out of Harvin. And that likely will be the approach this time around. With Harvin under contract through 2014, they don’t need to make a decision on him this offseason — unless Harvin forces their hands.

If Harvin steps out again against the team, they should deal him. That’s if it’s March, Draft Day, August or right up to the trade deadline. Spielman should have his finger on the trigger, with offers ready if need be. Find out who likes him now and restoke that fire if need be down the road.

But sitting tight also makes sense because, frankly, the Vikings have no one quite like him. They know how much better Harvin makes their offense. Even if they draft WR help, it’s doubtful they can find someone with the 23rd pick this year that they did with the 22nd pick back in 2009. They knew then why he fell that far — character concerns — a point which has been hammered home time and time again.

Still, patience is a virtue here. Keeping Harvin for now is the right move, but being ready to move on from him at a moment’s notice is something they absolutely must be prepared to do. It’s not worth wrecking a franchise or young QB Christian Ponder over.

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