Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press, Published June 20 2012
AP source: Harvin requests trade from Vikings, but team says they won't deal him
Unhappy with several issues with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009, Harvin requested a trade, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associ-ated Press. The person spoke on condition of ano-nymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
After participating in a light walk-through practice on Wednesday morning with his teammates, Harvin wasn’t present for the full afternoon practice. Head coach Leslie Frazier declined to go into detail on Harvin’s absence and said he wasn’t sure if one of the team’s most important players would be around for the final day Thursday.
“We’re going to talk more in detail,” Frazier said. “We have a lot of things to talk about.”
Vikings GM Rick Spielman said the organi-zation considers Harvin a cornerstone player and will work to resolve any issues that have upset him.
“We have no interest at all in trading Percy Harvin,” Spielman said. “We drafted Percy Harvin here. He’s a key part of our organization. He’s a key part of our football team. Any issues that are out there, or reported, we al-ways handle those inter-nally, and we’ll continue to handle those internally.”
The situation seemingly came out of nowhere this week, surprising many Vikings players and coach-es when Harvin voiced his frustrations with the team Tuesday at the opening of minicamp.
“I just put it this way: There’s a lot of different things that have to be sorted out,” Harvin said Tuesday. “Just haven’t been really happy lately. We’ve got a couple of things to work on. I’m here in the classroom. We’ll go from there.”
Harvin declined to go in-to detail about his griev-ances. He is due to make $915,000 in the fourth year of a five-year rookie deal. That total is much lower than veterans Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simp-son, with neither coming close to his production on the field.
But indications are that Harvin’s issues go far deeper than just money. His role in the offense, which diminished greatly last season when the Vi-kings reached the red zone, and the organization’s decision to go into a re-building phase coming off of consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC North combined with his modest salary all figure to factor into his mindset.
Requesting a trade now would be a curious move if his main motivation is a new contract. Most players in similar situations first voice their concerns, then threaten to holdout of training camp before going as far as to request a trade.
Spielman would not say if money was an issue, but also reiterated the organi-zation’s approach to sign-ing players to extensions.
“Our philosophy has al-ways been as players enter the last year of their con-tract we have a history of extending players going into the last year of their contract,” Spielman said. “And that’s been our histo-ry.”
Harvin has emerged as perhaps the most versatile and dynamic player on the team. He earned respect in the locker room for his willingness to play through injuries and still produce late in last year’s miserable 3-13 season. In May, Harvin showed up at voluntary workouts despite still recovering from shoulder surgery and spoke of asserting himself as a leader and encour-aging other players to participate in the team’s offseason program.
He caught 87 passes for 967 yards and six touch-downs last season, rushed for another 345 yards and two scores and also re-turned a kick for a touch-down during a sensational year.
Harvin dealt with mi-graine headaches and numerous other minor injuries as the result of his punishing style of play, missing one game his rook-ie season and two in 2010, which brought concerns about his durability over the long term.
He played in all 16 games last season, establishing himself as one of the game’s top slot receivers and most dangerous kick returners.
“Percy is a phenomenal player on the field,” Spielman said. “And you look at his statistics he had last year and how important he is to this franchise. He’s a vital part of us moving forward with this team.”
But somewhere between his appearance at team headquarters in May and his return to Minnesota this week, something went wrong for Harvin.
After making the NFC title game as a rookie, the Vikings have taken signifi-cant steps backward the last two seasons. They are centering their rebuild on Harvin, Peterson, who is recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee, and second-year quarterback Christian Ponder.
Harvin is far and away Ponder’s best option in the receiver corps that in-cludes non-descript veter-ans Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu, rookie fourth-round picks Jarius Wright and Greg Childs and Simpson, who will be suspended for the first three games this season after being arrested on drug charges while with the Cincinnati Bengals.
After signing tight end John Carlson from Seattle, there has been a lot of talk about the Vikings going to more two tight-end sets to take advantage of him and second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph. That could also be a concern for Harvin, but offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said he was unaware of any problems Harvin had with the play-book. Musgrave said he planned to get the ball to Harvin even more this season.
“We’re looking forward to getting him on the field and as an offense we’re looking forward to having a better year,” Musgrave said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Peterson said he hadn’t spoken to his friend about it but planned to have a conversation to try to help smooth things over.
“I wouldn’t say it’s dis-tracting. It’s more bother-ing. It’s like, we definitely don’t want to lose this guy. ... I’m sure the organization will do what it has to do to keep this guy around,” Peterson said. “If it was me, I would make sure that we kept him around. But we’ll see.”
Frazier said the two sides have to get on the same page by the time the team reports to Mankato for camp on July 26.
“Hopefully, we’ll be headed in the right direc-tion when we get to train-ing camp and everyone can focus on getting ready for the Jacksonville game,” Frazier said. “That’s the way it has to be. We can’t afford any outside distrac-tions.”
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