By John Boyle Herald Writer
To address a need at receiver, the Seahawks turned to a familiar face.
Less than two months after releasing Sidney Rice to free up salary cap space, the Seahawks agreed to terms Wednesday on a deal to bring the receiver back to Seattle.
Rice broke the news himself on Twitter, writing, “Aaayyyyooo 12s.. SEA you in a few.. IM COMIN’ HOME! #Seahawks #12thman #Round2.”
Round 2, as Rice put it, will come with different expectations than Rice’s first contract with Seattle. When Rice joined the Seahawks in 2011, he was the first big-money free agent signing for head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, signing a five-year, $41 million deal. Back then Rice was brought to Seattle to be a bona fide No. 1 receiver, something similar to what he was in Minnesota in 2009 when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
Now, Rice, 27, will still try to be a productive receiver, but he’s also hoping to simply prove he can stay healthy having missed the second half of last season, as well as seven games in 2011. Since that highly productive 2009 season, Rice has missed significant time because of hip and knee injuries, as well as multiple concussions. He also had surgery on both shoulders after concussions ended his 2011 season early, but he played in all 16 games in 2012, putting up his best numbers as a Seahawk with 50 catches for 748 yards and seven touchdowns.
While far from a sure thing, Rice’s return to Seattle is hardly surprising. Shortly after he and Red Bryant were released, head coach Pete Carroll left the door open to a return for the two cap casualties, saying, “”maybe we have a chance to get them back, maybe we don’t. We’ll have to wait and see.”
While Bryant was quickly snatched up by Jacksonville, Rice, who is coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2013 season in October, did not immediately find a suitor. With Rice receiving clearance Monday to resume football activities, teams began showing interest this week. Rice visited the New York Jets Wednesday, but ultimately he decided to stay in Seattle.
Several of Rice’s teammates expressed their happiness at the news on Twitter, including quarterback Russell Wilson, who wrote, “YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!! @sidneyrice.”
The Seahawks released Rice to save $7.5 million in cap space, but Carroll has always raved about Rice’s ability, and presuming this contract — reportedly a one-year deal — is worth significantly less than his previous one, he could represent a bargain for Seattle if he can stay healthy.
And yes, that’s a big “if,” but if Rice is healthy, the Seahawks would be adding a productive pass catcher after losing last year’s leading receiver, Golden Tate, in free agency. At 6-foot-4, Rice also give the Seahawks needed height to a unit that, while very productive without him during a Super Bowl run, lacked size without him. Prior to Rice’s signing, Seattle’s receiving corps did not include a player over 6-foot-2 who had played a down in the NFL (Seattle did add 6-5 receiver Chris Matthews, who spent the last two seasons in the CFL).
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.