Just before the beginning of free agency, two pretty big trades were made, both sending wide receivers to NFC West; Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl champion Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens to the San Francisco 49ers.
As the date of free agency approached, it seemed clearer and clearer that both the Ravens and the Vikings weren’t going to hang on to their players. Boldin didn’t want to take a paycut – after a postseason with four touchdown catches, including in the Super Bowl, he didn’t feel that his age and declining speed (never was one of the fastest guys in the world) should be a reason for him to take less money. Harvin has been wanting out of Minnesota for quite some time, mostly for financial reasons, thinking he’s going to get a better contract in 2014 elsewhere.
Both the 49ers and the Seahawks had great seasons in 2012, making the playoff. Seattle lost in the final moments against the Atlanta Falcons (NFC Divisional round) and the 49ers made it all the way to the playoffs. No big overhaul was needed on both sides, but strengthening the receiving positions seemed to be one of the musts on both team’s shortlists.
So Boldin, after a season with 65 catches for 921 yards and a postseason with 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns was traded only for a sixth round pick. That’s the reality under the current labor agreement between the NFL and its players, and getting money off your salary cap seems to be just as important, and probably even more, than having a good player on your team, with the Ravens now in a bind to find someone that can replace Boldin’s presence as a big target for Flacco to throw to.
Harvin is a different kind of receiver, who missed half of last season for the Vikings due to an ankle injury. He averaged a career high 75.2 yards per game in 2012, getting a bigger role as the slot receiver Christian Ponder relied on so much during the first half of the year. He wanted out, and despite everything the Vikings were saying, they realized that Harvin isn’t going to stay, and was going to fight them on it.
Harvin is sent to Seattle for a first round draft pick, but the deal is also contingent on Harvin agreeing to a new contract, which is expected to be finalized in the next 48 hours. Since his rookie season in 2009, no player has returned more kickoffs for touchdowns with 5.