They were naïve, hopeful, enabling and nearly self-defeating, but they also realized what a colossal error it was and probably made a great move — however shocking it was — in order to save their offense and season.
The ill-advised decision (we said it then, so we can say it now) to trade for Harvin and give him a $67 million contract last year was easily Schneider’s biggest gamble since he and Carroll arrived in 2010. And, unsurprisingly, the GM lost big time.
So, add Harvin to the list of first-round flops by Schneider: James Carpenter in 2011, Bruce Irvin in 2012, Harvin (via trade) in 2013. (At least Schneider was smart to trade out of the first round this year to take Paul Richardson in the second. Hopefully he will do that henceforth.)
The draft picks themselves were not the big expenditure in this deal — the 25th overall pick and a late third-rounder, plus a seventh-rounder in 2014, were not a prohibitive price to pay for a player as talented as Harvin.
But the money on top of that was. The Hawks paid him $18.4 million to play in just eight of 24 possible games (including playoffs), and he still will count $7.2 million next season.
It was a huge risk by Schneider and Carroll, who obviously saw a chance to add a mercurial player whose talent stands out even among NFL stars.
The deal trumped any of their previous character or money gambles — e.g., trading for problem child Marshawn Lynch; giving Sidney Rice an exorbitant contract; bringing in poison pills Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.
The Hawks said they considered Harvin a long-term investment — a core player they would build their program around. Even when a hip injury ruined his 2013 season, they spoke excitedly about the future. And then he teased everyone with a couple of explosive kick returns.
Healthy this year, he became the focus of the offense. The season opener against Green Bay — in which he gained 100 yards on 11 touches — was supposed to be a precursor of things to come. But he gained just 175 yards in the next four games and was averaging a career-low six yards per catch when he was traded.
Carroll and Bevell justifiably were questioned for the way they were using him, and every week they said they were working it out and had big plans for him and the offense. It had become a tired refrain.
Bevell repeated it this week: “Do we want Percy to get the ball in every way we possibly can? I think it’s obvious because we’re trying to do things to get him the ball.”
Well, that plan went out the door when the bomb was dropped Friday afternoon: The Hawks were sending Harvin to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick (a fourth that could rise to a second based on Harvin’s play).
As surprising as it was on March 11, 2013, when news broke that the Hawks were acquiring Harvin from Minnesota, it was even more stunning that they traded him a mere 19 months — and just seven games — later.
Of course, the surprise morphed to understanding as the cause of the move began to be unveiled. As always happens, the previously unaired laundry was thrown into the streets; it was revealed that Harvin’s attitude had become a major problem.
Among the reports of Harvin’s misbehavior:
**He punched Golden Tate in the week leading up to the Super Bowl last year.
**Harvin and Doug Baldwin got into a scrape in the preseason and were both punished for it.
**At some point this season, Harvin nearly got into a fight with Russell Wilson after the quarterback called him out for his bad attitude.
**Harvin — apparently pouting about the way he had been used — refused to return to the field against Dallas last weekend when the game was on the line.
We had heard during the offseason that receivers coach Kippy Brown was not a fan of Harvin and considered him a selfish, abrasive player who failed to bond with teammates. It appears all of that was true.
Through it all, the Seahawks did a great job of sticking to one of Carroll’s mandates: “Protect the team.” No word of the dysfunction had leaked — even from players apparently involved in alleged incidents — until after Harvin was traded.
But, if Carroll knew about all of that, he is guilty of enabling Harvin and basically undermining his own club.
It’s obvious the Hawks did not want to bring back Tate last offseason. Maybe Carroll and Schneider thought removing Tate would fix the problem. If so, they were ridiculously naïve.
And, if the bosses knew Harvin was poisoning the locker room as far back as the Super Bowl, how stupid were they to build the offense around him this season?
All of that said, Schneider and Carroll finally came to their senses — even if it took Harvin’s alleged act of insubordination vs. Dallas — and acted to save their offense from imploding any further than it has.
In fact, the offense should be better now that Bevell and Wilson don’t have to try to force-feed Harvin. Remember, the Seahawks won a Super Bowl without Harvin last year. They certainly can do it without him again.
With Harvin gone, Carroll will get his wish to see Richardson and fellow rookie receiver Kevin Norwood, who has been inactive all season.
With so many Seahawks injured this week, both receivers should be active — alongside Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters. And Wilson should be a little more relaxed as the Hawks get back to running Lynch and completing passes downfield — kind of like they did last year, when they never had Harvin.
The Harvin saga said a lot about the Seahawks: They were foolish, overconfident and nearly self-defeating in their attempt to make the mercurial player fit their team, but they realized their mistake in time to fix their offense and keep their season on track.