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The last two days have not been the best for former Florida Gators in the NFL.
On Tuesday, the New England Patriots decided to waive defensive tackle Dominique Easley, their first-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. One day later, Easley passed through waivers unclaimed and became a free agent.
That same day, wide receiver Percy Harvin decided to retire from professional football, according to multiple reporters including ESPN‘s Adam Schefter. Harvin, who had been waffling about whether to return to the Buffalo Bills and play in 2016, ultimately decided to hang up his cleats after a disappointing career.
For Easley, injuries appear to be the biggest issue. Not only did he tear both of his ACLs while at Florida, Easley has suffered a wide variety of injuries since joining the league. He played sparingly in his first year with the Patriots before being placed on injured reserve before the end of the regular season. New England went on to win Super Bowl XLIX without him. After recovering, he entered 2015 as an expected starter and high snap count player for the Patriots. Though he did play more frequently than his rookie year, Easley was once again placed on IR before the season’s games had concluded.
Harvin’s career has been as up and down as one could expect since joining the NFL. Though he was named the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, earning a Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod during his first season in 2009, the first-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings was unable to keep up his production, time on the field or temperament inside the locker room. He scored a eight touchdowns (six receiving, two returning) during his rookie campaign, taking 60 passes for 790 yards over 15 games.
Harvin was also impressive his next two seasons with Minnesota, though not without issue and controversy. Before the 2010 season, Harvin suffered a string of illnesses and even collapsed on a Vikings practice field due to complications from a severe migraine headache (an issue that has plagued him throughout his career). After missing much of the offseason, he returned to the field and caught 71 passes for 868 yards with seven total touchdowns.
His most productive season came in 2011 when he reached career marks in catches (87), receiving yards (967) and total touchdowns (nine). Harvin began 2012 with three 100-yard receiving games over the season’s first six contests, but an ankle injury placed him on injured reserve and contributed to the end of his time with the team. Not only was Harvin’s health a constant issue, he was also seen as a locker room divider.
Luckily for Minnesota, it found a trading partner for Harvin in the Seattle Seahawks, which acquired him ahead of the 2013 season for a package of three draft picks (first, third, seventh). Harvin signed a six-year, $67 million contract ($25.5 million guaranteed) following the trade and never came close to fulfilling the terms of his rich deal.
Harvin tore his labrum, underwent surgery and began the season on the physically unable to perform list; he did not step on the field for the Seahawks until the 11th week of the season. One week after Harvin finally played, he was forced out again as his hip flared up. Out through Seattle’s first playoff game, he appeared ready to return in the NFC Championship but was sidelined with a concussion. It was at that time that reports began surfacing of Harvin getting in scuffles with teammates and resisting coaches’ orders, refusing to play in practices and games.
Still, he suited up for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII and electrified by returning the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown that ballooned Seattle’s massive lead and led to the team’s first championship.
The Seahawks decided one-and-a-half seasons of Harvin was enough, ridding themselves of his massive contract in the middle of 2014 by trading him to the New York Jets for a conditional draft pick.
Harvin posted modest stats in limited action that season but was released by the Jets ahead of the 2015 season. He played for the Buffalo Bills on a one-year, $6 million contract but only posted 218 yards and a touchdown in five games in what would be the final season of his career.