The Vikings lined him up all over the field, including as a running back, but in an attempt to preserve his health often limited his snaps and turns as a kickoff returners, particularly over his first three years. Harvin was by far quarterback Christian Ponder's favorite target, but the struggles of the passing attack that increased around midseason did not help Harvin's mood.
He was seen shouting at coach Leslie Frazier on the sideline after one failed possession inside the 20-yard line in the last game he played for the Vikings. The bubble screen pass they used so effectively early in the year to get Harvin the ball was bottled up more and more, especially against the Seahawks. Ponder passed for only 63 yards in that game, a 34-24 loss.
Harvin will enter the fifth and final season of his rookie deal with a $2.9 million salary that's well under market value. The Vikings have a history of giving their core players new contracts before they enter the final years of their current deals, and that obviously didn't happen with Harvin. As a slot receiver, as exceptional and varied as his skills are, Harvin didn't give them the tall, fast, game-breaking target on the outside that they've been lacking since they got rid of Randy Moss.
The Vikings traded Moss to Oakland a little more than eight years ago. Moss, too, was a moody player whose peaceful coexistence in the locker room came in question. The Vikings received a first-round pick and starting linebacker Napoleon Harris in that trade, but the seventh overall selection they infamously used on unreliable wide receiver Troy Williamson never panned out and Harris didn't do much, either. Moss proved he still had plenty of touchdowns left in him.
Now the Vikings have more room under the salary cap to pursue one of the free agents on the market that opens on Tuesday, with Greg Jennings and Mike Wallace the best available but sure-to-be-expensive options. Either way, they'll certainly make wide receivers a primary focus of the draft.