After seeking out a second opinion on his injured hip, Percy Harvin announced Tuesday that he will undergo surgery later this week. That decision means that the Seahawks will be without their new, high-priced wide receiver for at least the first several weeks of the season, leaving them with ... well, basically, the same offense that helped them go 11-5 last season, give or take a few pieces.
Make no mistake, this one stings for a Seattle team with Super Bowl aspirations. When the opportunity to land Harvin presented itself this offseason, the Seahawks packaged multiple draft picks (including their 2013 first-rounder) to pull Harvin from Minnesota. They then turned around and handed Harvin a six-year, $67 million contract.
The Seahawks believed that Harvin might put them over the top and form part of their nucleus for years to come.
He still may do both those things. With surgery looming, however, Harvin is certain to open the 2013 season on the PUP list, meaning he will miss at least six games. That's a conservative estimate, too -- the early prognosis is for a three- or four-month recovery, which could put Harvin back on the field around November.
That's more or less the timetable that San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree is shooting for, by the way, so the NFC West race could come down to which team gets its injured receiver back soonest.
It is also very possible that both San Francisco and Seattle thrive in spite of those setbacks. In Seattle's case, the focus will turn now to Sidney Rice, who led the team in receptions last season with 50 but who also, according to Pete Carroll, is in Switzerland receiving treatment on his knee. Having him in the lineup for the start of the regular season is close to a must now, with Harvin sidelined.
But if he's there, Seattle could start the regular season with its top eight pass-catchers from 2012 still on the roster. That list includes Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson and, of course, Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks were going to lean on Lynch, Harvin or no Harvin. Lynch racked up 315 carries last season, as the Seattle offense morphed into a top-10 unit with the exciting Russell Wilson at quarterback. Lynch and Wilson will have even more help in the backfield, too, thanks to Seattle's draft selection of versatile back Christine Michael.
Michael is one of the few new faces now in the mix, along with rookie WR Chris Harper or rookie tight end Luke Willson.
Aside from those bit players, the Seahawks essentially are back to their 2012 starting lineup everywhere else on offense. That's the same group that averaged a staggering 42.5 points over the Seahawks' final four regular-season games and came within one defensive stop of advancing to the NFC title game.
In other words, the sky is not quite falling in Seattle.
If anything, the Seahawks are no doubt feeling more frustration than desolation right now. They gambled on Harvin earlier this offseason, and now have to be having at least some second thoughts.
Harvin could erase those doubts by returning late in 2013 and proving to be the game-changing player Seattle thought it had acquired. Still, even if he cannot do that, even if he's slow to come back and misses all of 2013, this is still a Seahawks team capable of contending in the NFC.