After wrapping up the 2013 NFL combine today, its time for the trade rumor mill to get hot again. We have already had plenty of free agent players expressing their interest in certain playing destinations as well as a few sharing their desire to be traded (or the teams themselves realizing it may be time to move on from certain players.) Surprisingly three of perhaps the most dynamic players currently in the NFL are smack-dab in the middle of those conversations; Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin and Devin Hester. Only Bush is set to become a free agent and while he is unsure as to why the Dolphins aren’t as excited about trying to resign him, he has done enough in his two seasons in the M-I-A to be a hot commodity on the open market. Whereas Harvin and Hester are still under contract with their respective teams, but there are major grumblings coming out of Chicago and Minnesota media saying that these guys want out.
For Hester its due to not having become a bigger piece of the Bears offense; Everyone knows this man is lightning in a bottle on returns, but he has struggled to take advantage of the opportunities the Bears gave him to become a contributing part as a receiver and with the Earl Bennett having a breakout season and Alshon Jeffery looking for an expanded role coming out of his rookie campaign, there doesn’t seem to be any room or balls left for Hester.
For Harvin it’s never been about opportunities, in four seasons he has amassed 280 receptions and 3,302 yards and 20 touchdowns, it’s off the field where he has clashed with both current and former Vikings coaches and recently has been saying that he wants a contract extension that will give him a significant pay raise to his current $2.9 million rookie salary. Because of the former the latter may not happen and the Vikings feel they may be better served moving him rather than pay him and incur their own case of headaches.
So playing fantasy GM which of the three would you be the most willing to take the gamble on (this is under the caveat that, with both Hester and Harvin under contract, the asking price from the Bears and Vikings isn’t too steep)
– First he is a free agent so you don’t have to lose a player or a draft pick from your roster to add him.
– Secondly he showed in Miami that he has the ability to be more than a third down back and in today’s NFL running backs no longer carry the load by themselves, so he should be able to give a team 10-15 good carries for 16 weeks. He still is very dangerous receiver and with so many teams looking to get as many weapons on the field he gives teams more versatility. Lastly in a pinch he can be used as a return guy, especially if he goes to a team where his expected carries aren’t high.
Why not Bush:
– After having a good stint with the Dolphins he may be looking for a bigger payday than he deserves. The shelf life of a NFL running back isn’t that long and neither should be the amount of zeros on his contract.
– Will the expectations that come from this new contract be too much for him? He went into Miami with no pressure because pundits had already began to write him off due to what he wasn’t able to accomplish in New Orleans, but with a resurgence in his ability to be a good back in the NFL will the pressure return as well?
Why Percy Harvin:
– His potential versatility! He can line up in the backfield, in the slot or be put back on kickoff returns and score at any moment.
– He can relieve the pressure off the rest of the offense. Most NFL teams, outside of Atlanta, may have a guy they consider their #1 receiver, but few have that #2 guy they are comfortable with causing match-up problems, Harvin could be that guy. For a team like Houston, he could be the piece that they have been missing that takes the attention from Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and even Owen Daniels, thus making the team more dangerous and could be the piece that finally gets them to the AFC championship.
Why not Percy Harvin:
– For the same reason he may be on the way out of Minnesota, being a malcontent is not a good reputation you want in the NFL, especially as a WR (ask Titus Young.) He would have to show a team that he has matured even before they are willing to invest in trading for him and that’s almost impossible to do.
– Receivers are a dime a dozen, even the talented ones. Teams are less apt to want trade for a guy at that position unless he is sure-fire because they know they can find someone who can help at that position in the draft, the question becomes do you give up perhaps a 3rd round pick for a guy who has had issues off the field as well as problems staying on the field due to injuries, when you can just draft a receiver who doesn’t carry that baggage with that pick.
Why Devin Hester:
– We saw in the super bowl with Jacoby Jones momentum shifting TD how key a return guy can be to a team that is already good but just is missing a that one final piece, and Devin is that guy. Outside of Mel Gray and maybe even Deion Sanders there hasn’t been a guy that puts fear in special team coaches like Hester has.
– Hester just wants to be included in the offense and looks to Randall Cobb as the blue print, as teams try to get more creative, there is no reason that the right Offensive coordinator couldn’t use a weapon like Hester, whether it’s on reverses, screen passes or even out of the backfield. All you have to do is get the ball into his hands.
Why not Devin Hester:
– We aren’t sure if his decline in numbers (23 receptions 242 yards) was because other guys stepped up or because when called upon he didn’t deliver. Either way, to see a veteran who claims to want a bigger role in the offense not perform (40 targeted passes) may be too risky for some GM’s who would have to give up something to get him as well as take on that $7 million+ price tag.
– With the NFL looking to protect players more on kickoff and punt coverage are done, will he be as dangerous as he once was? His kickoff return attempts (24) and longest return (40 yards) are the lowest they have been in 3 years and his punt return average dipped below the 10 yard mark for the first time since the ‘09-‘10 season.
By the time the time training camp starts, it wouldn’t surprise me to see all three guys wearing new uniforms but realistically I think only Bush changes locations because he is a free agent and the asking price from the Bears and Vikings may be too rich for some. The question then becomes what type of energy will be generated going into the 2013 for their respective teams; will it be the kind that blasts them off into the playoffs or blows up in their face…