Seahawks’ wide receiver Rice retires at the age of 27

RENTON — Sidney Rice is only 27, but an injury-filled career has taken its toll on the receiver, and on Wednesday Rice announced his retirement.

Rice, who signed with Seattle in 2011 as one of the first big-money free agents in the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era, did not give a reason for his retirement in the press release put out by the team. However, according to ProFootballTalk.com, he is retiring because of concussion concerns.

Rice’s first season with Seattle ended early after he suffered two concussions in a two-week span. He has taken other hard hits to the head in his time here, most notably on his game-winning touchdown in Chicago in 2012. Rice has also had operations on his hip, both shoulders, and last year on his knee after a torn ACL ended his 2013 season.

“After careful consideration and seven wonderful years playing in the National Football League, including the last three for the Seattle Seahawks, I have decided to retire from playing in the National Football League,” Rice said in a press release. “I have enjoyed my experiences with all of my coaches, teammates and passionate Seahawks fans.

“I take great pride in knowing I was one of the players signed to help build the foundation of the team that ultimately won the Super Bowl. I’ll be joining the 12s in support of the Seattle Seahawks as they take on the challenge to repeat. I appreciate all of the wonderful opportunities and look forward to establishing myself as a businessman. I will always be a Seahawk!”

The Seahawks released Rice not long after their Super Bowl victory in a salary cap-related move, but then re-signed him for significantly less money later when he didn’t find work with another team.

Even if he had been healthy enough to play this season, and even with Golden Tate now in Detroit, Rice would have had to battle to make the 53-man roster. With Seattle drafting Paul Richardson in the second round and Kevin Norwood in the fourth, the Seahawks had good depth to join Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who enjoyed a breakout 2013 season. Because Rice doesn’t play on special teams, he realistically would have needed to be one of Seattle’s top three or four receivers to merit a roster spot.

Rice, who was drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the 2007 draft, finishes career with 243 receptions for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns. His best season came in 2009 when he had 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. His most productive year in Seattle was 2012 when he had 50 catches for 748 yards and seven scores.

He was never able to stay healthy enough to live up to expectations that came with the contract he signed in 2011, but by being Carroll and Schneider’s first big signing, he helped legitimize their rebuilding effort. Rice was also a leader in the locker room and was very well respected by his teammates, as was evident in the outpouring of support on social media following his announcement.

“The entire organization would like to thank Sidney for his leadership over the past three seasons,” said general manager John Schneider said in a press release. “His time as a Seahawks player displayed the core values that Pete and I aimed to bring to the program and Sidney is a true champion. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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