Q&A with Rick Spielman: Percy Harvin deal was 'too good to pass up'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said the team wasn't actively pursuing a deal to trade wide receiver Percy Harvin, but when Seattle approached the team with an offer it was "too good to pass up."
The Vikings' trade with the Seahawks, which sent Harvin to Seattle in exchange for a 2013 first and seventh-round draft picks and a third round selection in 2014, was made official on Tuesday.
Spielman expressed his satisfaction with the deal Tuesday during a news conference at the Vikings' Winter Park headquarters on the first day of the NFL free agency period.
"It was an opportunity for us to accumulate some draft picks," Spielman said. "And we felt it was too good to pass up for us to move forward as an organization and continue to build this organization to have long-term success for years to come."
In four seasons, Harvin had 3,302 receiving yards on 280 catches (11.8 average), ran for another 683 yards on 107 carries (6.4 average) and scored 29 touchdowns, including five on kick returns.
However, during his stay in Minnesota the 24-year-old receiver continued to be a source of perceived distress. He had several publicized spats with the Vikings' coaching staff and upper management.
Spielman declined to address whether or not Harvin's off-field issues spurred the Vikings' decision to make a move.
"I will get into nothing from the business standpoint," Spielman said. "I just know that making the decision to trade him we felt was the best business move we could make going forward."
The following is a transcription of Spielman's Tuesday news conference.
Free agency has officially kicked off, and I'm down here talking to you guys.
First off, we're very excited to get the Phil Loadholt deal done. That was one of our primary players that we wanted to make sure returned. We drafted Phil. He has really developed into a player that we feel is a key part of our offensive line, in his blocking, his run blocking, not only what he does on the field, but also what he is out in the community, and what a leader he has developed into in our locker room. As we headed into this Phil Loadholt was definitely our top priority, and I'm definitely very excited that Phil Loadholt will be here.
Antoine Winfield was a very tough decision. It was a business decision as we move forward. Antoine is a great football player for us. He's another one that is a tremendous leader and great at what he does in this community. We definitely want to keep the door open on his possible return, but at this time we had to release him in order to get him out into free agency.
And I can officially announce the Percy Harvin trade has also been completed. It was an opportunity for us to accumulate some draft picks, and we felt it was too good to pass up for us to move forward as an organization and continue to build this organization to have long-term success for years to come.
With Percy, it was a first (round pick), a seventh and third next year?
What all went into the decision to move him?
It was an opportunity that came really quick. We had something that presented itself that we felt would not only help us in the short term, but also the long term as well. You know my philosophy of trying to build this roster year in and year out through the draft, because I think that is the way you're going to maintain success. It was a situation that it was the best decision we could make going forward.
How does that help in the short term?
Just looking at the overall picture and hopefully what we will accomplish here by the time we open up for training camp, and what it opens up for us in the potential draft. So there are a lot of things that we will be looking at that really helps our success going forward.
Were you surprised by Adrian (Peterson's) reaction (on Twitter), and have you spoken to him since?
Oh yeah, we've spoken, and I know Leslie (Fraizer) has spoken to him. I understand the players, because these guys are out there battling every Sunday with each other. These are the decisions that are very, very tough, and none of them are easy, but we make decisions on what we think is best for this organization and how we can move forward and build success from what we had last year.
Does releasing Antoine at all speak to your confidence in the other cornerbacks you have right now?
We feel confident in the way Josh has developed, and tendering A.J. Jefferson and Chris Cook. We have a couple other young guys that we're going to look at as well. But by no means do we want to shut out Antoine. We want to hopefully have the door open for his potential return if that's possible.
At the time that Percy was place on the IR, or anytime thereafter, did he come to you and actively ask to be moved?
I will get into nothing from the business standpoint. I just know that making the decision to trade him we felt was the best business move we could make going forward.
Now that it's not tempering, because these guys are free agents, can you comment on Greg Jennings for example? Will you look at him?
We'll look at everything. We're going to look at the UFAs. The emphasis here is on signing your own back, and we've been doing that through the night. We are currently doing that right now, trying to get as many of our guys back that were UFAs last year, because of the success we had last year. If we can sign some of those guys back that were a key to that success, and then have another strong draft, we feel very excited about the direction that this team is going.
Had you seen Winfield decline at all?
Antoine played very well last year. He probably is one of those players that defied odds for his age in what he did for our football team last year. There's no question about what Antoine Winfield does for our football team on the field and off the field as well.
Was it a matter of whether he would take on a reduced role at age 36?
I don't want to get into the details of it. It was a very extremely hard decision to make, but hopefully we'll be able to keep the door open.
You've left the door open for a possible return. What would it take for him to circle back?
We'll just have to see.
How many more years have been put on Loadholt's new deal?
I won't get into the details of the contract. It's multiple years.
Are you going to release anybody else today?
Well it's past three o'clock, so no.
Do you have any intent to release anybody tomorrow?
(Laughs) This is a very fluid business.
How are you situated right now under the salary cap?
We're in good shape under the salary cap. As these deals come in, as we're working these deals, the emphasis right now is really focused in on our own UFAs. So we have three or four, five different things going on right now upstairs. As those deals come in we'll find out where we are from a cap standpoint, but we are in good shape from a salary cap standpoint.
With Phil being your top priority going into this, what signs of growth did you see from him last year that convinced you that an extension needed to happen?
The one thing about Phil is that he is not only a physical run blocker, and I think that right side and what he does for that right side when Adrian runs to that right side there is no question about the accomplishments that Adrian has made and a lot of that has to do with not only Phil but our whole offensive line. The goal was to keep that line together to keep that continuity as long as we can. We were able to get Matt Kalil in there, did some things with the guards, extended John Sullivan. Now Phil Loadholt will be part of that for a long time.
With Harvin's departure, was it something that you were trying to get the best you could get for him, or was it that the deal came that was enough for him?
We weren't out there actively shopping Percy. It was something that was basically approached to us, and we just felt that opportunity was too good to pass up.
Jerome Simpson tweeted that he signed a one-year contract. Can you confirm that?
I won't confirm anything just until we get signatures.
With Antoine, were you discussing with him a restructured deal?
I had spoken with Antoine earlier today. I had spoken with his agent, but I won't get into anything from a discussion standpoint about what was said.
Do you have any concerns with the release of Winfield, who was still performing at a high level, about what message that sends in the locker room?
Like I said, these decisions are very, very hard to make. That's why we definitely want to keep the door open for potentially having Antoine return, but we also need to make all the pieces fit into the puzzle as well.
Where are things at as far as bringing back Jerome Felton?
We've been in discussions, and we are currently in discussions, with Jerome. If there is an opportunity to get him finalized we definitely are trying to do that.
Your philosophy is to build through the draft, but do any of these moves kind of have an eye on this year's free agency and competing next year?
We think we're going to compete next year. There is no doubt about that, because we were a playoff team last year. By keeping your own and continuing to build through the draft, and with the success we've had with this draft and we feel very strong about this draft coming up, that that is the approach and philosophy that we believe in and it's showing that we are having success with that philosophy.
With Harvin, were there any off-field issues that made you more wiling to trade him?
(Laughs) We just made the best decision that we felt was right for us going forward.
Has the three-day negotiating window impacted perhaps the speed at which some of these deals got done?
It was basically an opportunity to speak with agents. We could not speak with the players themselves. But getting parameters in place, getting an idea where the potential market was going to come in, gives you an opportunity where your guys actually get a chance to see what market they could potentially get and it gives us an opportunity to try to keep them here. There was a lot of maneuvering going on, I would say, but it will be interesting to see how significant and how quickly things happen with this new three-day window.
Does that play into the prior team's hands in a way?
It's hard to say right now, because almost each individual case was different. Some agents were more aggressive about getting it. Some agents were trying to collect information and then make decisions based off that.
You have mentioned several times that you want to leave the door open for Antoine. Are you hoping that he does come back, and did he give you any inclination in that conversation that would still be open?
We're always going to keep the door open on somebody of that ... not only as a football player, but what he means to this organization, what he means to this football team. When you have to make tough business decision it makes it extremely hard. One minute you're elated because you have Phil Loadholt done. Then the next minute you don't feel as good, because you have to do something with Winfield, which makes this job extremely, extremely difficult. But we are very excited about the progress in getting our own guys back, potentially getting some guys back, maybe adding something in free agency, but really honing in on, as we get out of this period and get our guys done, really honing in on and focusing on the draft.
How enticing was getting that first round pick from Harvin?
I know we have the 23rd and 25th picks. To have two first rounders, we were able to capitalize on that last year. We don't have a fourth this year, but they are down relatively close. I think with the depth of this draft, as we have developed our board, we've felt very strong about getting two players that can come in and help us win ball games right away.
Is there a feeling that you have to fill a receiver spot before you get to the draft?
I don't think you panic, because you don't line up and play until August. There are so many things that happen between now and then. Your roster isn't set by four o'clock tomorrow. It's a continuous process. You have to be patient. You have to have a schematic-type approach, and do your due diligence. If there is something out there that we think will not only help in the short-term but the long term then we'll definitely take a peek at them. But if there is something out there that we don't feel very good about then we're not going to do it. We're not going to do something just to do it. We're going to be very meticulous about how we handle this
Were you able to restructure at all with John Carlson?
I'm not going to comment at all on any restructures.
With your conversation with Antoine, what were the sentiments that he expressed to you?
We had a very good conversation with him. I'll just leave that between him and me.
As you guys stepped back and evaluated Jerome Simpson's performance, what were your thoughts?
Jerome had to deal with his suspension and he had to deal with the injury through most of the year, but I know coming back for a second year in the offensive system, coming back healthy, you can see some of the potential that he showed during training camp and that he showed in the preseason. If officially Jerome is signed back here, we look forward to having him.
Everybody is open. We're talking to everybody. It will all depend on how things shake out because as one piece gets put into place, maybe another piece gets eliminated. It all depends on the market they're looking for and how that fits into the whole big picture. We'll continue and like I said, we've been in contact with almost all, if not all, of our UFAs and are really honing in, trying to see what we can get done there first.
You're in discussions with both of them right now?
We're in discussions with everybody. We're allowed to discuss over the three-day period.