Timetable: Harvin is scheduled for surgery Thursday. The procedure will likely be arthroscopic and involve repairing the labrum. Athletes often need 10 to 16 weeks of rehabilitation before returning from such a procedure. The timetable grows if reshaping the bone becomes part of the procedure (in an effort to stop the labrum from fraying as it catches on the bone). Doctors won't know the timetable until they see inside the hip.
PUP option: Harvin is currently on the physically unable to perform list. The team could leave him on that list past the Aug. 31 reduction to 53-man rosters. At that point, Harvin would have to miss the first six games. He would then have a five-week window to begin practicing. Once he resumed practicing, Harvin would have 21 days to join the 53-man roster or miss the remainder of the season. Harvin could make his game debut as early as Week 7 (77 days or 11 weeks from Thursday) or as late as Week 15 (136 days or 19.4 weeks from now) under PUP rules. This is a likely course of action because Harvin would have a wide berth for returning without counting against the 53-man limit in the interim.
IR return option: Instead of placing Harvin on the PUP/reserve list Aug. 31, the Seahawks could place him on the injured reserve list with a designation for return. Harvin would have to miss the first eight games, at least. He would be eligible to return for a Nov. 3 game against Tampa Bay (96 days or 13.7 weeks from now). The Seahawks would be wise to save their lone IR-DFR allocation for a player injured after the reduction to 53 players. Only players with injuries predating training camp qualify for the PUP designation. Harvin qualifies. There would be no reason to use the IR-DFR designation for him.
Regular IR option: Placing Harvin on the traditional IR list would keep him from playing until the 2014 season.
Player-team relationship: The specialist Harvin visited for a second opinion apparently recommended surgery. Did the Seahawks' doctors see things differently? Different doctors have different opinions. Coach Pete Carroll recently noted that safety Kam Chancellor played through a similar hip injury last season, which could have implied he thought Harvin should do the same. Harvin is new to the Seahawks. The parties haven't been around each other long enough to build trust. How will this situation affect those dynamics?
Competitive fallout: It's looking like Harvin will miss much or all of the upcoming season, including the Seahawks' highly anticipated Week 2 home game against the two-time defending NFC West champion San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers will be without their top receiver, Michael Crabtree. Both teams remain strong throughout their rosters. Harvin was the more dynamic player of the two, but Crabtree might have been more valuable to his team relative to the other options at wide receiver.
Tate's opportunity:The Seahawks thought Harvin's presence would create even better matchups for other receivers on the team, including Golden Tate. Now, Tate figures to get more snaps than he would have gotten previously. And as he proved last season, his career is on the rise. Tate is entering the final year of his contract. The Seahawks need him more than they thought they would need him. They also need Sidney Rice, who was undergoing a non-surgical procedure in Switzerland to address a knee problem that bothered him in 2012.