The Seattle Seahawks made a bold move this offseason when they acquired the volatile and versatile Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings. Seattle's newest wide receiver is here to not just enhance — but lead — the Seahawks to offensive air dominance.
The Seahawks sent their 2013 first-round pick (25th overall), a 2013 seventh-round pick and a 2014 third-round pick to the Vikings for Harvin, who was in the last year of his rookie contract. He was given a new contract from the Seahawks, valued at $67 million over six years including $25.5 million in guarantees. For comparison, it's significantly more than Victor Cruz just got in his new deal with the Giants.
That's a lot of want.
Strike that. When you give that much for one player, it reflects a need. Seattle recognized that it needed to improve in the passing game in order to take the next step.
Is Percy Harvin the missing piece of the puzzle? One major publication thinks so, apparently. USA Today sportswriter Jason Lisk recently ranked all 32 NFL teams according to their top four skill position players. Not surprisingly, the top trios of quartets were the offensively dynamic Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers.
Coming in fourth? (Smile, Seattle fans) Your Seattle Seahawks.
In the immortal words of long-time Pac 8/10/12 television announcer Keith Jackson, "Whoa, Nellie."
Lisk's rankings consider the top running back, tight end and top two receivers for each team. Based on that criteria, he ranked Seattle's top skill position players ahead of 28 other teams.
Seattle had a nice offseason. Bringing in a dangerous, all-around threat like Harvin is a plus and second-round draft pick Christine Michael has a chance to be good. But if Seattle's group as a whole is to be considered better than the consistently top-scoring offenses of the New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and New England Patriots, then it is due to one factor: Marshawn Lynch.
The passing game has a lot of catching up to do.
Seattle's offense ranked ninth overall in scoring and 27th overall in passing in 2012. The Seahawks' overall offensive ranking of 17th is boosted tremendously by their third-ranked ground game, which averaged 161.2 YPG.
Is adding one new piece to the puzzle enough to vault Seattle from 17th in yards (or ninth in scoring) all the way to fourth-best? Looking at the rest of the Seattle receiving corps, the Seahawks have a lot of room for improvement from their 27th-best ranking of a year ago.
Zach Miller has not come close to reproducing his top seasons in Oakland during his career in Seattle. There is virtually no depth behind him. He has three touchdowns in his two Seahawk years and they all came in 2012. Perhaps he is turning the corner.
The rest of Seattle's receiver corps have yet to blossom. Sidney Rice, Seattle's leading receiver last year, contributing 50 catches for 748 yards (75th in the NFL in catches). Golden Tate added another 45 catches (91st) and Doug Baldwin had 29 (140th). New savior Harvin had 62 catches last year.
The good news is also the bad news: Harvin only started eight games. He led the league in all-purpose yards midway through the season, until he was felled by an ankle injury. So you can look at his productivity two ways: he was on a blistering pace and could have been great, or his continuing injury woes will likely prevent him from ever being "the man." Harvin has missed starts in all four NFL seasons, including 13 over the past three seasons where he was the projected full-time starter.
Harvin's yards per reception have declined each year since his rookie year and his career YPR is a mediocre 11.8. His availability has been compromised in every season. Is he the missing link Seattle's passing game needs? Or is he another purple castoff whose best Seattle years never equaled their best Minnesota years — like Rice and Nate Burleson before him — that the Vikings have unloaded on Seattle?
It will be interesting to find out. There is a lot riding on this one new element to Seattle's offensive skill positions.