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Being head-down in draft stuff, it's a bit strange to be writing an actual article here, but Seattle acquiring Percy Harvin via trade is certainly worth taking a breather for in order to address how this will impact the team, particularly in terms of the ripple effect it will have on potential off-season plans.
First of all, I think Percy Harvin may be the most talented and dangerous wide receiver in the league, in terms of what he can do after the catch. Worth a 1st round pick? Yes. Worth a $10M+/year contract? I think so. Everyone wants to go to the health issue (migraines, etc.) when shooting this deal down, but the fact is, Harvin missed a total of 3 games over his first 3 seasons, before missing 7 games last year (ligament tear in ankle).
So, injury prone? I wouldn't go there yet. Let's see how he responds to the ankle injury. It's also important to remember that he still has to pass his physical for this deal to be complete (assuming that happened, considering Leon Washington has now been released).
As for what this acquisition does to Seattle's off-season plans, let's first look at the draft.
The goal of any team in the first round of the draft is to acquire an immediate impact, starting-caliber player who upgrades a position on the roster. In the top half of the first round, you're expecting that player to be Pro Bowl-capable guy, and in the 2nd half of the round, generally speaking, if you can nab a future Pro Bowler, you feel good about having maximized the value of your pick.
The Seahawks no longer have a 1st-round pick this year, and they most probably won't re-acquire one. Concerns have been expressed that this now takes Seattle out of contention for one of the top interior pass-rushing DTs, which many (myself included) believe to be the team's biggest need.
While I agree that Seattle has no shot at one of the top DTs (Richardson, Floyd, Lotulelei), it's not because Seattle traded their first round pick. All three of those guys would've been gone before Seattle picked at 25 anyway. Now, could they have positioned themselves higher in the 1st round by packaging that 25th pick with other picks, to move up a few slots and perhaps nab a guy like Richardson (who may very well be the 3rd DT taken with Floyd's recent rise)? Sure.
So perhaps they lost an opportunity there, but in exchange for that opportunity, we have to keep going back to the fact that they got a young, Pro Bowl-caliber, explosive, big-play threat in Harvin, which addresses another of their top-3 needs and adds an unprecedented game-breaking element to an offense that seemingly has everything except said explosive, big-play threat.
So, with that 25th pick have you acquired an immediate impact player with day-1 starting potential, who upgrades a spot on the roster? Yes. Have you maximized the value of the pick? Considering you have a day-1 Pro Bowl-capable receiver, yes. Granted, you've paid a higher price than you would for the 25th pick overall, but the key difference here is in knowing what you're getting. Harvin has already proven he can get it done at the NFL level. It's worth the premium.
Let's look to Seattle's other top-3 need (outside of DT and WR) - weak side linebacker. The top-3 in this year's crop are Alec Ogletree, Khaseem Greene and Arthur Brown. What's unique about this bunch is that a case could be made for any or all of the three of them to be taken as high as 25, or as low as the mid-late 2nd round. Ogletree is a top-15 talent, there's no doubt, but his alarming chain of terrible decision-making off the field could lead to a drop. Now, he won't fall to 54, so let's just put that out of our minds now. However, an Ogletree drop could push the other two (Greene, Brown) down into that mid-late 2nd round where one of them could be available when Seattle picks.
Do I see it as likely that this will happen? No. I think all 3 will be gone by 56, however, even if we get to the middle of round 2, and one of them is still sitting there, the idea of Seattle making a trade into the mid-high 40s isn't implausible by any means, considering they have an extra 5th and an extra 7th to play with, and not nearly as many holes to fill as they've had in previous years. This could be a worthwhile move up, as Seattle would be getting potential late-1st round talent for, at worst, high 2nd-round cost (a late 2nd and a 5th), and would again be in position to maximize value.
The same scenario is certainly possible when looking at the 2nd tier of DTs who could be sitting there mid-2nd. Kawann Short would bring "plus" interior pass-rush and could definitely be on the board in the early-mid 40s, or one of my favorites, Sylvester Williams could possibly slip and would be worth a price tag similar to that which I laid out in the trade-up scenario for an OLB, above. There are consistency issues with both guys, but both guys have flashed dominant potential.
Montori Hughes is another intriguing prospect who possesses more natural ability and talent than both Short and Williams, but has hurt himself with several suspensions throughout his college career, and ultimately, a dismissal (from Tennessee). At 6'4, 325lbs, Hughes would be an intriguing 3-technique prospect with 5-technique flexibility, and "plus" pass-rush at both spots. He may very well be sitting there at 56, and could prove to be a huge steal there.
Just looking at the depth in this year's draft class, at both OLB and DT, I would definitely say the DT position is the top-heavy position, where the talent really starts dropping off in the 3rd round, particularly if you're looking for a guy who can get up field and rush the passer from the 3 technique position (which is really what Seattle needs). At OLB, the depth is strong throughout, where a guy like Zaviar Gooden could conceivably be taken in the 3rd round and end up starting on an NFL team at some point in his first year. Sio Moore, Jamie Collins, Jelani Jenkins and DeVonte Holloman are a few others who could drop into rounds 3 and/or 4 (or even perhaps 5, in Holloman's case) but still compete for significant roles, year one.
By the end of the 3rd round, Seattle could very well have upgraded all three top needs, and then fill out others like nickel corner, OG and/or OT in the 4th and 5th rounds where they have one heck of a track record for digging diamonds out of the rough.
In conclusion, I view the Harvin trade as one that enables Seattle to maximize the value of the 25th pick overall, while keeping them in contention for starting-caliber talent for non-starting-talent cost at two big need positions, and certainly doesn't remove them from a "shoe-in" position of acquiring one of the draft's elite DT prospects. Chances are, the Seahawks might've traded back from the 25th spot anyway, and acquired more picks - something they don't need and actually don't have room for on the roster anyway at this point.
As for what this does to Seattle's Free Agency position, the cost of a new Harvin contract (which probably ends up in the $10-$12M/year range), does have to be considered when looking at the market, and certainly takes Seattle out of contention for the bigger names, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
When you combine the Sidney Rice and Zach Miller contracts, Seattle has loaded the offensive side of the ball with the bulk of big salaries, and adding anything else there may be fiscally irresponsible. This means guys like Jared Cook and Fred Davis are most definitely off the table now, but then again, so may be the need for either one of them with the addition of Harvin, who satisfies a big-play need that you could alternatively look to get at the TE position in Cook or Davis, considering Seattle's heavy use of 2-TE sets.
I do think Seattle continues to play the FA market for defense though, as veterans John Abraham and Charles Woodson will be given strong looks on short-term deals (1-2 years probably). Woodson may demand more cash than Seattle wants to invest in someone his age, but his veteran presence and championship experience could be huge additions, not to mention his flexibility and position versatility to move around in the defensive backfield and cover from multiple spots is something this team strongly covets.
As for younger FAs, guys like Desmond Bryant (DT) and Sedrick Ellis (DT) could be intriguing 3-technique considerations who probably upgrade pass-rush and may not cost a ton, while linebackers such as newly released James Anderson (CAR), or young veterans (and former USC players under Carroll) Kaluka Maiava and Keith Rivers might draw some interest as well.
In Summary, Seattle has gotten significantly better on offense while remaining in position to maximize value and fill needs with the picks they still retain. This is without even considering the possibility that a trade of Matt Flynn could garner another mid-round pick and put Seattle right back into a place of having 9-10 picks and more bargaining power come draft day.
You can find more of Derek's analysis at his Seahawks-centric draft, free agency, & pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." Head over and bookmark it - he maintains a really great free agent tracker in addition to his Draft focus that is much more in-depth than most places because of his background doing deep scouting of NFL Draft prospects.