The End Zone: Is Percy Harvin’s Third Act Going To Be His Best Yet?

In what was otherwise an incredibly slow week for the NFL, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks surprisingly traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the New York Jets in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Speculation was instantly rampant that the move was tactical, due to Harvin’s alleged inability to get along with his teammates and the Seattle coaching staff. Such rumors plagued Harvin when he transferred from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seahawks, and they’ll likely plague him as he begins to make a name for himself with the Jets – but sources alleging bad behavior are a dime a dozen, so let’s focus on the bigger issue at hand: is Percy Harvin just what the Jets need to fix their ailing season?

Currently sporting one of the worst records in the league, the Jets have gone only 1 and 6 to date. They also come dead last in the league for offensive receiving yards. While Harvin’s production was limited in his time with the Seahawks, due both to a back injury and his issues fitting in with the team, the wide receiver is still known for his ability to explode on plays. As he told reporters this week, he’s been looking to run deeper routes – much like the 40 yard reception he caught earlier in the season in a Seahawks matchup against the Washington Redskins. Yet for the most part, the Hawks were using Harvin on shorter wideouts, with his catches averaging just 1.1 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. If the Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can open up routes where Harvin feels most effective, it stands to reason that Harvin’s on-field frustration will be far less likely to spill into his off-field persona with his new team.

The Jets are also notoriously shallow at the receiver level. Eric Decker is averaging a mere 13.5 yards a game this season, Greg Salas is all but ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills, and though the Jets just resigned Jeremy Kerley to a 4-year extension on his contract, the WR is averaging only 9.1 yards a game. While Harvin’s numbers are statistically no better, thanks to the Seahawks limited use of Harvin on longer runs, his ability to run deep and open would be a strong addition to a weak receiving squad in New York.

Of course, much of the speculation on Harvin’s ability to perform for the Jets has nothing to do with Harvin at all – the Jets are still insistent upon using Geno Smith as QB1, despite his severely hampered production all season. Jets fans have all but turned on Smith, and are hoping for Michael Vick to get moved up to the QB1 slot – though Vick’s dismal play in the Jets’ embarrassing 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers earlier this month doesn’t bode well for his ability to lead a team that’s desperately floundering. Vick, who was called in for the second half after coach Rex Ryan benched Smith in the Chargers game, suffered the same performance issues Smith did, and later told media that he wasn’t prepared to be called into the game, because he didn’t take his scouting team seriously.

Harvin’s ability to find a permanent home with the Jets may be contingent on a variety of factors, but his ability to play nice with teammates and management is what’s going to keep him in contract, especially when his production may be limited. Does he have a chance to reinvent himself after controversy-mired runs with the Minnesota Vikings and the Seahawks? Sure. Will he? That’s on Percy.

[Photo: Getty Images]

The End Zone, The Frisky’s new weekly football column by Beejoli Shah, is sponsored by Smirnoff Ice. Smirnoff Ice is not a sponsor of the NFL.