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April 21, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Sidney Rice on ESPN 710 Seattle: “The door was always open”

Newly re-signed Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice said in an interview on ESPN 710 Seattle this morning that the New York Jets offered him more money than the one-year deal he got to return to Seattle, which is worth $1.4 million if he reaches all incentives. But Rice said he simply wanted to stay with the Seahawks and help the team defend its Super Bowl  title.

“I had opportunities to make more money in New York,” said Rice, who visited the Jets last week before re-signing with Seattle. “But just being back here around the guys I know and love and care for me not only as a teammate but as a person, that played a big factor. …

“It’s something different around here. I’ve been here three years now, this will be the fourth year, and just being with these guys from the beginning from the old uniforms to the uniform change to the guys they brought in —just the way they are trying to build things around here it’s really something special around here. And when you have an opportunity to be a Super Bowl contender right off the top with the same group of guys you have been putting in work with the last 3-4 years, it’s something different.”

Rice was released in late February in a salary cap move that cleared $7.3 million in space — he was due to make $9.7 million via terms of the original five-year deal he signed with the team prior to the 2011 season. Rice said that on the day he was released he spoke with coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider and that they told him then they hoped to bring him back.

“It was always that (thought) from the beginning,” he said. “. …  that was one of the first things they mentioned, that they would love to have me back. Just a few things they had to work out and me being in the league seven years now, I understand this is part of the business … the door was always open.”

It helped speed up the decision to sign Rice last week when he was cleared to begin cutting — he tore his ACL in Seattle’s win at St. Louis on Oct. 28.

Rice said he is “doing really well. I’m quite ahead of schedule” and that he hopes to be back on the field sometime before training camp begins in late July.

Rice will rejoin a receiving corps that lost Golden Tate in free agency but could be aided by a fully healthy Percy Harvin, as well as the added experience of the likes of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

Rice also could be a big factor, if healthy, and said “we expect to be a much better passing offense this  year. … we still have a lot of work to do and I feel like we have the right group of guys to get the job done.”

That includes Harvin, who Rice said is “going to be out on the field healthy.” Rice said to expect more of the “electrifying plays (from Harvin) like you saw in the Super Bowl” and that “a healthy Percy Harvin is very scary. Very, very scary. And that’s what he’s going to be this year.”

Rice spoke from the team’s training facility in Renton, where players reconvened today to begin the team’s formal off-season conditioning program.

Rice said Carroll spoke to the entire team in a meeting at 11 a.m. and that “the biggest thing that stood out is getting back in tune with our work ethic. That’s what set us apart from everybody last year and once we capture that, we will be right back on track.”

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