Free agency has yet to get underway, but the frenzy started on Monday with two of the league's top receivers being traded. Contracts were of course factors in both cases, but let's break down what Percy Harvin going from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks and Anquan Boldin going from the Baltimore Ravens to the San Francisco 49ers means for all four teams involved.
Minnesota could now be in on the Mike Wallace sweepstakes, but everyone on the planet still believes Wallace will land in Miami when free agency launches at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Vikings went 5-2 without Harvin last season, with Jarius Wright stepping up down the stretch. The rookie fourth-round pick out of Arkansas led the team with 310 receiving yards during the final seven games, with Harvin on the bench. He can play the slot and is the best in-house option to replace Harvin. But to properly get that production back, they'll have to add someone with experience. They have at least $15 million in cap space, so expect them to pursue some vets. Greg Jennings, Danny Amendola and Josh Cribbs would all make sense.
Seattle could have a field day with Harvin in their revamped offense. The question, now, is whether he'll become a problem child with the Seahawks the same way he was at times with the Vikings. I think the Harvin-Sidney Rice duo would be too good for them to turn away from that, especially considering they have the cap space for Rice's big contract and couldn't replace him with anyone on the roster. This is a Super Bowl roster, and they just got better in an area of need.
Baltimore traded Boldin because he was stubborn regarding his contract, but they're taking a lot of heat for making such a cold-hearted business decision. Boldin, after all, caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs. I understand that you have to think about the future, not the past, and Boldin has taken some heat for his lack of speed. But the reality is that guys like him — strong safety valves who don't need to rely on their legs to produce — have longer shelf lives than others. Now, the Ravens enter 2013 attempting to defend their Super Bowl title without their best possession receiver, a man who dropped only three passes on 144 targets in 2012. They don't have the money to replace a guy like him on the open market, but they at least have two great weapons for Joe Flacco in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Look for Baltimore to draft a receiver early, but they'll likely take a hit in the short-term future. A sixth-round pick all to save $5.5 million in cap space? That's embarrassing.
San Francisco gains yet another weapon for Colin Kaepernick, as the rich continue to get richer while only losing one of their 12 draft picks. If you didn't know any better you'd swear the Harbaughs colluded here. I mean, do you know how hard it's going to be for defensive backs to cover the physical Boldin and the beastly Michael Crabtree? Throw in the upside 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins brings to the table and Kaepernick could have quite the arsenal at his disposal in the years to come. Boldin's 32, but he's the kind of player that can be effective for many years to come.