Money is fickle thing. Especially when it involves the Minnesota Vikings.
It's because of money they currently seek a new stadium. It's because of money that they fired Brad Childress due to lack of winning. It's even because of players that are becoming too expensive to keep.
Money is what keeps the NFL going. From commercials to the $6.50 beer, it's centered around the game.
However, in this case, the Vikings may be thanking their lucky stars that a lockout is currently in place when it comes to wide receiver Sidney Rice. As the lockout is on the cusp of completing it's second month, the Vikings look smart for placing restricted free agent tenders to the likes of Ray Edwards and Sidney Rice.
Though Edwards will likely be a threat to new head coach Leslie Frazier's agenda and will likely be traded, Rice poses an interesting scenario. One that the Vikings may see as a way keep Rice in Minnesota.
With Rice and Edwards being tendered first-round restricted free agent offers, the rights of both players belong to the Vikings in 2011 since both have under six years of service. If the CBA doesn't fully clarify when players are eligible for unrestricted free agency, the NFL would revert 2010 with an uncapped season.
As a result, Rice and Edwards would become restricted free agents and another team would have the chance to match or exceed the offer the Vikings issued (estimated at roughly $3.6 million). In doing so, they would have to forfeit their 2012 first-round picks as well as likely ponying up money to resign these players for more money with length.
Where will Sidney Rice be playing in 2011?
The sad truth for Rice and Edwards is that in a league of this nature, no one will freely make that gamble, especially on Rice.
In Sidney's case, his injury history prior to his breakout season in 2009 is worrisome not to mention to uncertainty surrounding his surgery recovery during the first half of the 2010 season. Most teams in need will have other avenues... especially if their desperate for receiver help.
Now Rice knows his best chance for a decently sized deal is now. He knows one team will still pay him a respectable contract for his services in comparison to the $3.6 million he'd make if he came off of a restricted free agent tender.
With this in mind, Rice would likely be stuck facing 2011 as a Viking. The one issue that may arise is that much like Ray Edwards outspoken response to being "paid less than his backup" may prompt Rice to play the one card he has left and seek a long-term deal in purple.
At this, Rice could also choose to play out 2011 and take his chances, but considering his history, it seems that Rice would be better served in the business sense to sign to dotted line offering him the most zeros.