Less than one month after giving Sidney Rice a Super Bowl ring, the Seattle Seahawks are expected to release their receiver (per NFL Insider Adam Schefter).
What are the chances that Minnesota looks at re-signing their former receiver for the 2014-15 season? Probably not very high.
Bringing Rice back would be an extremely risky move. The Vikings are not in a position to make risky moves.
Rice signed a five-year contract worth $41 million with Seattle in July 2011. However, the 27-year-old has been hindered by injuries since joining the Hawks.
While the Vikings likely wanted to re-sign the receiver following the 2010 season, injuries were a concern even then. Rice played only six games during his last year in Minnesota, and he underwent a microfracture hip surgery. The recovery went well, though, and Seattle took a chance on the free agent. After all, Rice was (is?) a guy with the skill set to succeed in the NFL.
While the hip seemed fine, other nagging injuries reared their heads. Prior to the 2011 season, Rice suffered a labrum injury in his shoulder during practice. Knee problems slowed him during the season. And on top of that, two concussions in a few weeks’ time caused the Hawks to place their newly acquired threat on Injured Reserve.
2012 proved a successful season for Rice, as he delivered his strongest numbers since 2009. Seattle cashed in on their purchase when No. 18 went for 748 yards and seven touchdowns. It appeared that Rice had turned a corner, and he seemed no worse for wear.
Enter 2013. As the Hawks made their run to Super Bowl XLVIII, they once again saw an injury—this time a season-ending ACL tear—sideline Rice after nine games.
According to a report by ESPN, Rice is due $17.5 million in base salary over the next two seasons. Being set to count $7.3 million against the cap in 2014, Seattle can no longer justify keeping him around.
Soon Rice will be trolling for a new team. Should Minnesota attempt to him back?
At only 27 years old, Rice definitely has the years left to keep playing; he also proved in 2012 that he’s more than capable of rebounding from an injury. However, coming off an ACL tear and major knee surgery is significantly different than Rice’s previous obstacles.
Any team who pursues Rice will certainly be taking a gamble, but the good news is it probably won’t be an extremely expensive gamble. Rice will most likely settle for a one-year deal. No team will want to sign a WR for anything longer until he can prove he can still put up numbers.
In addition, Rice should focus on potential rather than paycheck. If he can sign with a smaller-market team and have a bounce-back campaign, he can hold the cards for a better contract next year.
Currently, Minnesota’s receiver core includes veteran Greg Jennings, second-year Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright, and Joe Webb. Jennings and Patterson are cemented into the roster. The former Green Bay WR had a strong year with the Vikings after signing a five-year contract, and Patterson delivered an outstanding rookie season, already a top NFL receiver.
Simpson and Webb are both free agents. If Minnesota were to bring Rice back to the purple and gold, he would likely replace one of these roster spots.
The more equal swap, financially speaking, would be Simpson. No. 81 has also struggled off and on with injuries, but the 28-year-old has retained impressive speed that the Vikes will not want to lose. If anything, Rice may be a more reliable target in the end zone – if he stays healthy. All things considered, it doesn’t seem practical for Minnesota to make such an exchange without a more predictable outcome.
Overall, going after Rice seems an unlikely scenario, but the Vikings have been known to make some out-of-the-blue moves in the past.
As proven by the “comebacks” of Randy Moss and Donovan McNabb, Vikings fans just never quite know what tomorrow’s transaction report will bring.
Lindsey Young is a graduate of Northwestern College (University of Northwestern – St. Paul) and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Currently working full time at her alma mater, she continues to write and contribute to various sources, in pursuit of a career in sports journalism. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report, TCHuddle.com, TimberPups.com and Timberwolves.com. You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter @lilshortie2712.