NFL Free Agency: Sidney Rice and the 5 Biggest Injury Concerns
Because of the ongoing NFL labor dispute, the typically popular period of free agency seems to be a distant memory. But when the two sides get down to settling their differences, NFL teams will entertain the possibilities on the open market.
Here are five players whose 2010 injuries will be taken into consideration before their football future is decided upon.
Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice had a breakout season in 2009 as the Vikes rode future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's arm all the way to the NFC Championship game. But a hip injury lingered into the offseason and eventually turned Rice's treatment to surgery.
He wound up missing 10 games as a result.
When Rice returned to the Vikings lineup, it was too late for the team to recover from their early and mid-season misfortunes. And their top receiver was not the same player he was in '09.
On a positive note, Rice continued to display the remarkable ability to attack the football in flight and wound up with 17 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns in five starts.
With an offseason of rest and rehab, the 24-year-old Rice should be good to go in 2011.
As a much sought-after free agent, NFL teams are hoping he can return to his 2010 form—83 receptions, 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
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After two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons—and three straight years averaging over five yards per carry—Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams was hardly a factor in 2010.
Williams started six games and managed a productive 361 yards on 81 carries (plus 11 receptions for 61 yards), but a mid-foot sprain would end his season early as he was eventually placed on injured reserve.
With just four-and-a-half seasons under his belt, Williams still has a lot of tread left on his proverbial tires. Thus, he will be one of the top free agent running backs considered by NFL teams.
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It was a win, led by backup QB Charlie Whitehurst, that sent the 7-9 Hawks to the playoffs. But Hasselbeck returned a week later to throw four touchdowns in an unforgettable Wild Card win over the then-defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
That scenario is a capsule of what Hasselbeck brings to the table as a free agent QB in 2011.
He could provide outstanding veteran leadership along with the mental and physical skills to lead an NFL team. But at 35 years old, his health remains a huge question mark.
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Smith was well on his way to a repeat performance in 2010 before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Rehab is reportedly going well and Smith wants to remain in New York where the team has already shown signs of retaining his services. But there's no way of telling just how effective he will be until the Giants are able to hit the field and test his injury.
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Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Willie Colon started every game for three straight seasons before missing all of 2010 with a torn Achilles tendon suffered during offseason workouts.
He is arguably the team's best offensive lineman and while there have been rumors that he will be moved to right guard if he returns to the Steelers, the team will likely do everything possible to keep Colon in the O-line mix no matter the position.