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On Friday afternoon, the New York Jets caught the NFL world sleeping when they acquired Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick.
The offense-needy Jets pulled off the deal, which should bode well for Geno Smith and the development of the the Jets offense. Harvin should start opposite Eric Decker, who was signed in the offseason and has thrived as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.
Not only does the trade for Harvin impact Gang Green; it says a lot about how Harvin fit in with the defending Super Bowl champs. Here are five takeaways for both sides after the deal.
1. Harvin a locker room cancer?
After the trade was made, the Seattle Times reported that late last year Harvin gave Golden Tate a black eye after an altercation between the two receivers. The report also stated Harvin got into it with fellow wideout Doug Baldwin, which resulted in Baldwin getting a cut on his chin.
If the reports are true, it appears as if Harvin did not get along well with his teammates in Seattle. That gives us a reason to believe the players wanted Harvin out of there to better their own chemistry, and get rid of the locker room cancer that Harvin was.
2. Weapons for Geno
As Smith has struggled in his sophomore season, one area of blame has been the lack of talent around him. Decker has been a solid No. 1 wide receiver, but a hamstring injury has kept him out of the lineup at times. Besides Decker, there’s the 1-2 punch of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, Jeremy Kerley and rookie tight end Jace Amaro. This isn’t exactly what Peyton Manning has to deal with.
Decker is leading all Jets receivers with a 13.5 yard per reception average. As a team, they’ve combined for 15 plays of 20 yards or longer. In contrast, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown have combined for 24 plays of 20 yards or more between them.
If Harvin can stay healthy and find his form in New York, Smith will have a true No. 1 receiver in Decker and the most dynamic playmaker the Jets have had in recent memory. Harvin draws attention away from defenses focusing in on Decker, and gives New York a solid three-wide receiver set along with Kerley.
3. Bigger role for Kearse, Baldwin
With Harvin out of the fold in Seattle, it opens the door for Jermaine Kearse and Baldwin to seize bigger roles in the offense. As we saw last week in the Seahawks’ loss to the Cowboys, the team revolves around Marshawn Lynch with running lanes. But when the Seahawks’ offense is clicking, it’s Russell Wilson running out of the pocket on bootlegs on play-action passes finding his wide receivers for game-breaking plays.
Harvin led Seattle with 22 receptions on 26 targets for 133 yards. Baldwin and Kearse have 16 and 11 catches, respectively. Both are in line to get Harvin’s targets, and perhaps we’ll see more of Ricardo Lockette as well.
Baldwin and Kearse were key in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run. Now the two young wide receivers have a chance to truly grow into major role players with Harvin — and the talk of Harvin — out of the frame.
4. Special teams boost
The Jets’ playoff teams a few years ago received a tremendous boost by the likes of Leon Washington and Joe McKnight, among others, helping to win the battle of field position and come up with big scoring plays with their special teams prowess. That has been lacking, especially this season, without a true dynamic threat returning punts and kickoffs.
With New York playing their Week 7 game against the Patriots Thursday night, the Jets still have yet to score a touchdown on special teams. Their kickoff return average (23.7 yards) is 16th in the NFL. Their punt return average (4.2 yards) in 28th.
Harvin has an issue staying healthy, but when he is 100 percent, he can add a whole new dimension to the Jets’ special teams unit that has lacked in 2014. For an offense that already is struggling, winning the field position battle can go a long way.
5. Shakeup in the NFC West
Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis were likely raving at the fact they no longer have to game plan around Harvin the rest of 2014 and beyond. Harvin, who can change a game on the offensive side of the ball or special teams, is certainly a player opposing head coaches cannot forget to account for.
We wonder whether his loss will hurt Seattle down the stretch. The team already had two losses after suffering three all of last year. And in the very competitive NFC West, where the Cardinals sit atop the standings with the Seahawks and 49ers lurking behind them, the loss of a player of Harvin’s caliber could give one team the edge. That remains to be seen.
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