The Percy Harvin saga had gone quiet in the weeks since we last addressed it at the NFL scouting combine. Then, as you might recall, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was repeating a seven-word mantra whenever he was asked: "We have no intent to trade Percy Harvin."
That carefully-constructed phrase, of course, stopped short of denying the possibility that Harvin would be traded. "We have no intent" and "We will not" have different meanings. The Vikings might not plan to trade Harvin, but it could happen if they get the right deal and/or he forces the issue.
So it's worth noting this Star Tribune column from Sid Hartman, who suggests that Harvin is trying to force the issue. Harvin's leverage is limited at the moment, as Hartman notes; he is under contract for 2013 (at just under $3 million) and the Vikings could conceivably use the franchise tag to retain him after that.
There is precedent for teams strong-arming a disgruntled player. Notably, the San Diego Chargers allowed receiver Vincent Jackson to sit out 11 games of the 2010 season in a contract dispute. But as free agent running back Steven Jackson says in the NFL Live video, that approach rarely achieves the desired result.
"Anytime you let a player stay around that is disgruntled," Jackson said, "he may divide the locker room. You don't want that. Because typically, players tend to take the other player's side because they can relate to each other."
Throughout months of discussion, I've maintained it was the Vikings' responsibility to find a way to work through Harvin's misgivings because of his unique and enormous talent. And the appearance of a provocative report, amid possible contract negotiations, should at least be considered through the prism of finance and leverage rather than a true reflection of the player's feelings. There is a long history of NFL players who abruptly withdrew trade requests once the team hit the contract number they sought.
With that disclaimer, we should acknowledge Harvin's history of eccentric behavior and unpredictable decisions. If the Vikings are convinced he won't give them his maximum commitment in 2013, then perhaps a trade is their only option. For those asking, a player receives credit for an accrued season, according to the collective bargaining agreement, if he is on "full pay status" for six regular season games. That means Harvin, like Jackson, could hold out through Week 11 and still trigger expiration of his contract after the season.
There is no sense speculating on Harvin's presumed grievances. Money, offensive scheme and the quarterback are traditional gripes from elite receivers, but Harvin is far from a traditional thinker. There is no telling what is going on inside his head. What we do know, as if we had forgotten, is that this saga might go quiet from time to time but isn't going away -- until the Vikings either sign him to an extension or trade him away.