As more details trickle in about the Seahawks' stunning decision to trade Percy Harvin to the Jets, a picture of persistent drama behind the scenes is starting to form. The multiple reports of Harvin's discontent with his role on the team and in the scheme all point to the idea that the Seahawks simply grew tired of having to deal with the chemistry issues he was creating.
The well-connected Lance Zierlein reported through a series of tweets and an appearance on Dave Softy Mahler's show on KJR Friday afternoon that Harvin's well-documented off-field issues continued after he arrived in Seattle. Zierlein noted that Percy Harvin punched Golden Tate at around the Super Bowl time last year (with Tate showing what looks to be a black eye in this photo), and that he nearly got into a fight with Russell Wilson this season (this was, reportedly, a big impetus to ultimately pull the trigger on the trade). Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times had a source that corroborated the report of the Tate fight, and Condotta also added:
"A source also said Harvin had an altercation with Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin in the week leading up to the final exhibition game this August at Oakland that resulted in Baldwin getting a cut on his chin and each player being excused from practices that week. Harvin, who did not practice for two days before that game, did not make the trip to Oakland for what the team said at the time was "a personal matter."
There was a good amount of angst at the time, with fans and media members alike wondering aloud what the details around with Harvin's "personal matter" really were.
Warren Moon, who is close to a good number of players and coaches on the Seahawks and who mentors Russell Wilson, said this today.
"One thing Pete Carroll wants is great chemistry on the field as well as off the field. And they had a tough time trying to figure out how to fit Percy Harvin and his skill set into what they already do as a philosophy offensively with Marshawn Lynch running the football and their play-action game. And then there was a little bit of a chemistry problem within the locker room at times with Percy, because he's a different type of guy. So I think the combination of the two made it to where he was expendable. . . . One thing . . . Pete is really, really big on is chemistry and everybody feeling comfortable with one another. And I think that's what this team has been so successful with the last three years. They've really had a great camaraderie, and they didn't want to do anything to disrupt that."
Mike Florio of PFT added another interesting angle to all this, noting that the Seahawks were looking to avoid allowing Harvin create a rift in the locker room related to Russell Wilson's leadership style.
"As one source explained it to PFT on Friday evening, the Seahawks possibly feared that Harvin had sufficient influence over enough of the locker room to launch a mutiny against quarterback Russell Wilson, who despite not yet getting a franchise-quarterback contract possibly has become the target of some resentment among players who don't share his complete devotion to the game, and who regard the third-year quarterback as a player-coach."
This fear has roots with Harvin's history, as it was reported the final straw in the Vikings' decision to trade him was that he was badmouthing then-starting quarterback Christian Ponder at the time.
Perhaps the biggest issue, or at least the ultimate final straw, is something that Bob Condotta and John Boyle both reported Friday night: that Percy Harvin refused to go back into the game late against Dallas, when Seattle was trying to drive downfield to re-take the lead. Harvin missed 11 of the Seahawks final 17 snaps and this strange usage had confused pretty much everyone watching; it was something that Pete Carroll tiptoed around with vague comments about game flow and 'readiness'. I would have to think for Pete Carroll, Harvin's refusal to go into the game as a form of protest for touches or usage may have been the most egregious affront to the whole philosophy and culture of the Always Compete program he's created in Seattle.
The Seahawks have not yet issued a statement about the trade, but it's expected Saturday afternoon once the paperwork goes through with New York. Harvin is still subject to a physical.