Touching All the Bases

Percy Harvin Might Have Fit the Patriots Mold, But Not Now

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I’ll admit it: I was convinced Percy Harvin was the perfect fit for the Patriots, someone whose skill set would be utilized to its fullest creative extent by Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels. Yes sir, you bet I wanted them to acquire him, and it was briefly frustrating, even disappointing, when they did not.

Oh, not now, mind you. Not Friday morning, when the Jets, still bruised and sore from the hard-fought 27-25 loss to the Patriots that dropped them to 1-6, went out and made an impulse buy, acquiring Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks. Gotta love the Jets, trading for a high-risk, high-reward player who might be the one to put them over the top, as if in complete denial that they’re scraping rock bottom.

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No, I wanted to see Harvin come to New England when he first entered the league. The Patriots had the 23d pick in the first round, and there was informed speculation that he was someone they were considering. The Patriots worked him out, and the Vikings, who chose him 22d overall, gloated afterward that they were fairly sure they got Bill Belichick’s guy.The Patriots worked out Harvin the day after Vikings coach Brad Childress visited him and indicated to Harvin they would draft him.

“New England was right in there. They were right behind us,” said Childress, who was fired in November 2010 and reportedly has found a second post-coaching career as Mr. Noodle’s brother, Mr. Noodle. “They didn’t think we’d take him [because of off-the-field] issues. … So they thought they could hold … and he’d come to them.

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“They were down there working him out the day after I was there. And [Harvin] wasn’t supposed to tell anybody, and I was trying to pull that out of him, who that was. So, it was a little cat-and-mouse game that occurred.”

Childress’s claim — I can’t tell whether he was boasting or being matter-of-fact — does make some sense. The Patriots needed more weaponry for Brady with Randy Moss aging. And after Harvin was selected, they traded out of the No. 23 pick and began a complicated series of transactions that included trading an acquired first-round pick to Green Bay (used to choose Clay Matthews) but picking up the pick that would bring Rob Gronkowski to the Patriots in 2010.

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Despite a mostly lousy draft in ’09, missing out on Harvin then all worked out for the best.

We can say the same with confidence after the latest Harvin move, too. I didn’t particularly care that they passed on him, though given his limited guaranteed money and the Patriots’ $13-ish million cap room, I certainly would have talked myself into it had Bill Belichick acquired him.

I know, embrace the hypocrisy, right, but it’s the truth. The Patriots have the structure to handle the stray malcontent, and if the player turns out to be too much trouble, he’s simply not in Foxborough very long. Yes, Belichick brought in that sea-slug Albert Haynesworth. He also cut him out of here pretty damn fast. Mistakes don’t get a chance to metastasize here.

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(This is where we’re obligated to mention that, yes, the Patriots took a chance on Aaron Hernandez, Harvin’s college teammate and a far more sinister character than anyone apparently realized. My response to that has become standard: There is a fascinating book to be reported and written on the late-2000s University of Florida football program.)

Five seasons into his NFL career, Harvin is a well-compensated, oft-injured, occasionally dynamic headcase who has had issues with teammates. Even his talent is unreliable now. He can be an electrifying player, but the jolts of voltage are scarcer now.

Sounds like the ideal Jet, much in the manner of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes before him, a talented, irresponsible player who will run a slow fade-route to irrelevance.

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Oh, and he also reportedly punched out a teammate before the Seahawks clobbered the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII last season. Not that such a matter concerns the Jets. He may still sucker-punch a teammate or two just for the sport of it, but there’s no chance of it happening before playing in the Super Bowl with this franchise.

It would have been interesting to see Harvin here. But it was hardly necessary, and probably not even a missed opportunity. I’m more interested to see if they go after another available, helpful veteran before the deadline, one who is probably less tantalizing but also less prone to tantrums.

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