There will be a lot of speculation in the coming weeks about the future of wide receiver Percy Harvin, who arrived last October in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
The New York Jets face a multilayered decision, one that will be based primarily on his contract ($10.5 million in 2015) and the draft-pick compensation they will owe the Seahawks to complete last October's trade.
Here's what you need to know:
The key date is March 19.
If Harvin remains on the Jets' roster after 4 p.m. on the 10th day of the league year (March 19), the Jets must give their fourth-round draft pick to the Seahawks. If the Jets release him before then, they owe the Seahawks a sixth-round choice.
The Jets were smart to make it March 19. Two reasons:
It gives them nine days to explore wide-receiver options in free agency. If they find a better player than Harvin, they can sign that player, cut Harvin and retain their fourth-round pick. The date also gives them leverage in any renegotiation talks with Harvin. If the Jets want to re-work his deal and he declines, the team can keep him until March 18, meaning he'd miss the first wave of free agency -- when the big money is doled out.
If the Jets keep Harvin on the roster beyond the deadline, it doesn't guarantee his $10.5-million base salary and it wouldn't preclude them from cutting him at a later date. But looking at it from a practical standpoint, it wouldn't make sense to dump a player after committing a fourth-round pick.
What if the Jets try to circumvent the draft-pick upgrade by cutting him before March 19 and re-signing him at a later date? Sorry, that won't work. In other words, if they cut him March 18 and re-sign him at any point before the second day of the draft (May 1), they owe a fourth-rounder to the Seahawks.
In terms of the financials, Harvin's contract no longer contains any guaranteed money, meaning there would be no salary-cap ramifications if they decide to part ways. His salaries after 2015 are $9.9 million, $9.95 million and $11.15 million.
Basically, it's a year-to-year contract, so what the Jets have to decide is this: Do they give up a sixth-round pick for the half-year he gave them in 2014 or do they surrender a fourth-rounder for a minimum of 1 1/2 years?