Sidney Rice, at one time in his career, was a No. 1 receiver. That was the case in 2009, when he had more than 1,000 receiving yards catching passes for Brett Favre and the Vikings, and it was the case in 2012, when he led the Seahawks in both catches and receiving yards.
But that was not the case in 2013, when Rice never looked right before missing the second half of the season with a torn ACL. And it was not going to be the case this season, either.
Rice’s announcement on Wednesday that he is retiring from the NFL at age 27 certainly came as a surprise on an otherwise quiet offseason day. He dealt with injuries throughout this career, and he cited concussions as the reason for leaving the game at an age when he should still have good football in front of him.
But it is not a blow to the Seahawks’ receiving corps, at least not on a big scale. The reality is that Rice was going to have a hard time making the Seahawks’ roster this season. The Seahawks cut him earlier this offseason to avoid paying him a hefty salary, then re-signed him to a much friendlier deal that was set to pay him $1 million in base salary this season.
Rice was going to have to earn a spot on the roster in what might be the most crowded position group on Seattle’s roster. Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin, Jermaine Kearse and 2014 second-round pick Paul Richardson are locks. After that, there’s a bundle of receivers competing for what will likely be two spots: Ricardo Lockette, 2014 fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood, Phil Bates, Bryan Walters, former Canadian League player Chris Matthews. Rice didn’t play special teams, which is a knock against a guy battling for a final roster spot, and the Seahawks have other, younger options to turn to.
Rice signed with the Seahawks in 2011 on a five-year, $41 million deal. He played in only nine games in his first season in Seattle, then had catch 50 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012, his best year with the Seahawks.
But he looked like a shell of himself in the eight games he played last season. He flew to Switzerland last offseason for a non-surgical knee procedure in an attempt to feel better. But it looked like a career filled with various ailments and injuries finally caught up with him.
It’s always unfortunate when a player is forced to retire early, and Rice’s case is no different. But it shouldn’t carry huge ramifications for the Seahawks moving forward.