The Percy Harvin trade is a $7 million Hallmark card to Rex Ryan, courtesy of New York Jets general manager John Idzik.
After a four-day span in which Ryan bemoaned the sight of Darrelle Revis in a New England Patriots uniform, turned crazy mad after a crushing loss to those Patriots and told reporters the season is “a big failure,” Idzik decided to give his depressed coach a pick-me-up.
An electric player who can run, catch and return kickoffs, adding speed to an offense that lacked it — due, in part, to Idzik’s personnel mistakes in the offseason.
The blockbuster trade, stunning on so many levels, is a brilliant public relations move by a general manager who, until now, acted like he didn’t give a hoot what the public thought of him. But the criticism of his handiwork has intensified in recent weeks, with grumbling at One Jets Drive that Ryan and his coaches are frustrated by the glaring holes in the roster.
So this was Idzik’s response: Here you go, Rex — a weapon for the offense. Don’t ever say I don’t get you players.
Chances are, Harvin won’t save Ryan’s job, but it gives the coach a new toy and lifts his spirits, doing the same for a fan base disgusted by the team’s 1-6 start. Make no mistake, Ryan inherits all the risk. If Harvin doesn’t produce, fails to find a niche in the offense and whines about it — one factor that prompted the Seattle Seahawks to send him packing — the blame will fall on Ryan.
For Idzik, the long-term risk is minimal. If it doesn’t work out — if Harvin acts out and poisons Ryan’s locker room — he can jettison both at the end of the season. The Jets pick up Harvin’s contract, which has four-plus years and $48.6 million remaining, but they’re on the hook for only $7.1 million, the remainder of his $11 million base salary this season — fully guaranteed.
Sure, they’d lose the conditional pick, which reportedly can be no lower than a fourth-round choice, but it wouldn’t break their 2015 draft. Because, as you know, Idzik is all about building through the draft. How many times have we heard that? If, by chance, Harvin clicks with the Jets, maybe he stays and Ryan still goes.
So it’s a no-lose for Idzik, who knows exactly what he’s getting in Harvin. You have to assume his former boss, Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider, with whom he negotiated the trade, didn’t pull any fast ones. That means Idzik knows all about Harvin’s problem-child routine. He makes Santonio Holmes seem like a choir boy. It’s funny: Idzik passed on DeSean Jackson in the offseason because of off-the-field concerns, but now he makes the play for Harvin.
Ask yourself this: Why would the Seahawks, who traded three draft choices (including a first-rounder) and paid Harvin $18 million, unload him after a little more than one season? Dumb teams don’t win Super Bowls. Granted, Harvin came up huge in the Super Bowl, scoring on an 87-yard kickoff return, but the sudden fire sale speaks volumes. Statistically, Russell Wilson was a better quarterback when Harvin was on the sideline. Almost always injured, Harvin has only 150 receiving yards since the start of last season.
Harvin is a gifted athlete, and he’ll scare the dickens out of a defense when he gets the ball in his hands. But offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg will have to be creative with his play calling. Get ready for the “Percy Package.”
An AFC personnel director, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said of Harvin: “He’s a multipurpose type, meaning you have to manufacture some ways to get him the ball. When the ball is in his hand, he has a chance to make a play with it. The play isn’t over and his speed is an element after the catch. If you’re a defense, you need to be cognizant of his speed. You can use him with bubble screens, reverses, speed sweeps and vertical shots. He adds north/south speed with the ball in his hands.”
If everything breaks right, Harvin can help the Jets and, most of all, quarterback Geno Smith. But know this: The Seahawks came to the conclusion Harvin wasn’t worth the aggravation, so why does anybody think it will be different with the Jets?
If nothing else, Idzik placated his head coach and an angry fan base.