Now that the 2015 season is officially under way, with voluntary off season conditioning several weeks in and the 2015 NFL Draft completed, I thought it was a good time to do a five-part over/under series regarding this year's Buffalo Bills.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with how over/under works, it's simple: I'll provide you with a topic (i.e. Mario Williams' projected sack totals) and a measurement (10.5). Your job is to predict whether or not he will go over or under the measurement; in this case 10.5 sacks.
Now that we've covered the rules, let's get started.
Over or under: 1.5 seasons as a Bill for Percy Harvin
The talented, versatile, enigmatic wideout, known for his big-play ability and the propensity to wear out his welcome wherever he goes, is now on his fourth team in three years. Marred by chronic migraines (for a time, at least), injuries, and reported character concerns, Harvin is looking to put all of that behind him as he re-joins a coaching staff that applauded his professionalism and his on-the-field development last season with the New York Jets.
Harvin technically signed a three-year deal with the Bills, but the last two years void, making it a one-year, $6 million deal. Harvin is hoping to duplicate some of the better seasons he had earlier on in his career, when he was used a multi-dimensional offensive weapon.
In 2011 with the Minnesota Vikings, the only fully healthy season Harvin has yet played, he had career highs in receptions (87), yards (967), and receiving touchdowns (six). He rushed the ball 52 times for 345 yards, adding two more touchdowns. Equally dangerous in the return game, he averaged 32.5 yards per kick return - with, yes, another touchdown. That year alone, he accounted for 1,832 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns. This was two years after being named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2009.
At the young age of 26 (he'll turn 27 later this month), there's no doubt that Harvin is a bona-fide offensive weapon in the league, even after two down years. He can line up at wide receiver or as a running back. He can return kicks. Harvin is the type of player that you have to account for on defense, and could become a valuable asset in the Bills' offense under new coordinator Greg Roman - and if he does have a strong 2015 campaign, the team might see fit to try to lock him up long-term.
Then again, Harvin has suffered a slew of injuries in his career. In the last three seasons, he has missed 25 of a possible 48 games due to one ailment or another. In 2013, he missed 15 games due to a torn labrum.
In addition, it was reported in 2010 that Harvin has suffered from severe migraines since the age of 10. While with the Vikings, he collapsed on the practice field, and missed numerous practices and games because of it. In 2013, however, Harvin said he "hasn't had a migraine in two years." I don't know where he stands now with his migraines, but with what we now know about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), I wonder if this is something the Bills should be concerned about.
This past October, the Seattle Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a mid-round pick. It was reported that he was involved in multiple physical altercations with his teammates, and has an inability to control his anger. He was described as a malcontent, often getting in to it with teammates and coaches if he didn't get his way. NFL sources described him as "moody" and a "ticking time bomb".
It is no secret that the Bills are looking to run the football early and often in 2015, leaving very few opportunities in the passing game for wide receivers. One would think that those limited opportunities would go to second-year receiver Sammy Watkins, with Harvin joining the likes of Robert Woods and Charles Clay on the undercard. As mentioned earlier, Harvin can also run the ball out of the backfield, but with five running backs already on the roster, Harvin's touches in the run game might also be limited.
Harvin could, however, see plenty of favorable matchups thanks to the talent around him. Teams will more than likely key on stopping Watkins and LeSean McCoy to start, providing opportunities for Harvin to beat one-on-one coverage. Harvin can excel in this role, and would then serve as a great complement to Watkins in the passing game. With experience as a No. 1 wideout, in the event of an injury to Watkins, Harvin could conceivably step right in and the Bills can still be as explosive.
How much is that worth to the Bills? If the team chooses to exercise Harvin's option or renegotiate a new deal, he has to stay healthy, remain the consummate professional, and exceed expectations on the field.