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April 16, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Sidney Rice re-signs: What it means

Well, that changed quickly, didn’t it (and no, I don’t mean the Mariner game I was watching as I type this).

At about 4 p.m. today there were reports that Sidney Rice was meeting with the New York Jets.

Then, within the hour, Rice himself Tweeted that he was coming back to Seattle, news that sources quickly confirmed, and that the team then acknowledged. Rice hasn’t signed, which is why it’s stated only that he has agreed to terms. But he obviously will sign soon.

Here’s my story on Rice’s agreeing to terms to come back, with the nuts and bolts of it all.

Here are three more things it means that the Seahawks are re-signing Rice, and one thing that it doesn’t mean:

WHAT IT MEANS

1, The Seahawks will close-to-whole at receiver: Rice means the only receiver from last year’s team that won’t be back is Golden Tate, a better outcome than might have been anticipated when the free agency period began. The only somewhat unsettled situation is whether Doug Baldwin is back on a one-year tender or signs a longer-term deal. Seattle slapped a second-round tender on Baldwin. Other teams have until May 2 to offer him, and Seattle would then have until May 7th to match. What could also happen is that at some point, the team agrees to an extension with Baldwin. One way or the other, Baldwin will be back to join Rice, Percy Harvin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and guys who were largely practice squadders last year such as Phil Bates and Bryan Walters.

2, The Seahawks must think Rice will be healthy for the season: As noted in the linked story, coach Pete Carroll was pretty enthusiastic in February about Rice’s recovery from an ACL injury suffered Oct. 28 at St. Louis. Then came the news earlier this week that Rice had been cleared to cut. Rice is roughly five-and-a-half months into what is usually a 9-10-month recovery. Ten months would make Rice available for the start of the regular season. While setbacks can still occur, at this point the Seahawks must be pretty confident in what they have seen that Rice will be back.

3, The Seahawks will have lots of competition at receiver this year: This may seem an obvious point. But while Seattle is without Tate, every other player on the roster could be in a position to be better than a year ago. Rice, with the rehab, might be healthier than a year ago. Harvin should be ready from day one. Baldwin and Kearse are a year older and more experienced. Lockette has played some and looked readier to contribute when he did see action late in the year than during his previous Seattle stint in 2011. The team remains high on the potential of guys like Bates and Walters. And then there are the signees, each of which could be pretty underrated — former CFL Rookie of the Year Chris Matthews and Taylor Price, a third-round pick in 2010 by the Patriots whose career has been waylaid by injuries but who if healthy might finally show why he was drafted as highly as he was.

WHAT IT DOESN’T MEAN

1, Rice’s signing doesn’t mean Seattle won’t take a receiver in the 2014 Draft: While we’ve made the case above that the return of a healthy Harvin and Rice and the return of more experienced players could mean a better receiving corps in 2014, Seattle can still be expected to add a receiver in the draft. For one, it’s an especially deep draft at receiver, and if Seattle simply goes best-player-available, odds are it inevitably finds a receiver at the top of its board at some point. For another, the Seahawks might still think they need to find a way to replace some of what Tate brought — even if a healthy Harvin could fill much/most of that — especially someone who could return punts.

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