Seattle Seahawks Free Agent Signings: Is Sidney Rice Worth the Price?

Charlie TodaroAnalyst IIIJuly 28, 2011

A big, strong play maker; but Seattle has needs across the board. Was this the right move?
A big, strong play maker; but Seattle has needs across the board. Was this the right move?Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Seahawks are set to break the bank to the tune of five years, $41 Million dollars with 18.5 million guaranteed and three million in pro bowl escalators to sign Sidney Rice. However, with so many holes on the roster, does Seattle need to make this move?

Heading into free agency, Seattle appeared to have completed stockpiling talent to line up across from Mike Williams; with the extension given to Ben Obomanu, the drafting of Kris Durham and the signing of two sought after undrafted free agent receivers.

Turns out, Seattle was yet to pay a price large enough, or acquire a talent with enough potential, for their true liking.

Should we really be surprised by an aggressive move for a playmaker; once again, we see that Carroll and Schneider will be aggressive in getting their guy; Schneider helped find a group of legitimate weapons in Green Bay and Carroll has a liking for the big play.

Seattle has made it clear they will build through the draft, but high priced free agents with upside are needed to complete the puzzle;  they paid nearly top dollar for Rice-- Santonio Holmes receiving $50 million with $24 million guaranteed over five years.

What does Seattle gain here? Pete Carroll likes big play threats and mismatches.  Yahoo’s Doug Farrar goes as far as to equate Rice to Larry Fitzgerald--as the highest ceiling;  a player with elite size who “can dominate coverage and create breakdowns,” but not necessarily due to speed.

Rice isn’t Fitz--five 90-plus catch, 1,000-plus yard seasons with only one year below 60 catches, 800 yards to his credit. But the point is Fitz creates mismatches; so does Rice.

With Rice and Williams lining up, Seattle can get very creative with their sub-packages; the running game now has a new friend on the outside--Williams should have more room underneath.

With the addition of Tarvaris Jackson—Rice’s quarterback, at times, in Minnesota--Seattle now has two big armed quarterbacks and interchangeability at the quarterback spot. Seattle is focused on improving the running game and this is a move to improve the running game, via the pass.

On the surface, all appears to be well with this move; a big name talent for a big price, who fills the big- play role.

And with the reduced priced addition at quarterback and the acquisition of a talented, but a bit too brittle left guard in Robert Gallery—coupled with the release of Stacy Andrews—Seattle may have had the extra cap room to make this move.

But, Seattle has true needs across the board; the defensive line currently has zero “healthy” starters from 2010; the middle linebacker position is unsettled and somewhat dependent on Tatupu’s health; Seattle needs experience in the secondary. Health was a general issue for the Seahawks in 2010 and receiver wasn’t a pressing need, especially given the addition of three receivers before Rice.


An issue worth pressing is the fact that health was a problem for Rice in 2010, too; 10 games missed after hip surgery for a lingering hip problem.

Before committing to Rice, Seattle is reportedly bringing him in for a full physical.  Regardless of whether or not you like this move, fully clearing him is a must.

Another question; what does this mean for Obomanu? He proved in 2010 he’s a budding playmaker; his extension signified the team values his contributions as seventh round pick who worked his way up to a starting receiver.

But he's not a true no. 1 receiver. His best season was 2010—30 catches, 494 yards. Then again, you could have said the same thing about Rice before 2009.

Yes, Rice had 83 catches for 1,312 yards in 2009; otherwise, he’s eclipsed 30 catches once (31) and never had more than 494 yards.

Furthermore, if Obomanu’s contract was theoretically stretched to a five year deal, he’d make around $12 million. Obomanu and Rice both averaged 16.5 yards per catch in 2010, career highs for both. Rice may have made the pro bowl in ’09, but let’s not forget the quarterback upgrade the Vikings received that year, too.

Is Rice really worth three, possibly even four times that of Ben Obomanu? Obomanu may not have Rice's size, but he is a tough, athletic, hard worker on the rise; there is a good chance we have not seen the best from him.


Yet another question; what moves can Seattle make on defense given the signing? For starters, teams are trying to pry Brandon Mebane from Seattle; will $8 million plus a year to Rice hinder re-singing him or another top dollar tackle? Seattle also needs help with their pass rush; can they find both, in addition to Rice?

Is it time to potentially weather the growing pains of a young secondary and a re-building defensive line; Hawthorne could potentially challenge Tatupu in the middle, depending on a variety of factors—Seattle could have explored the vast market on defense, for a hurting defense.

Instead, they added a big money player at perhaps the most crammed and competitive position on offense; Golden Tate is in line for a "Percy Harvin-like" role; Kris Durham is 6'5" has deep speed and strong hands; Ricardo Lockette is a project, but at 6'2" with sub 4.4 speed his upside is as a big play, deep threat.

Given this acquisition, it’s worth wondering if Seattle is going to dangle Obomanu on the trade market--there certainly isn't enough room for everyone to see the field. 

While Rice fits the bill of a full field talent across from Williams, the obvious issue here is that Rice is somewhat of a one hit wonder and his hip injury derailed the momentum of his 2009 season; aside from ’09, Rice has a combined 63 catches in three seasons.


It’s hard to fault Seattle for stockpiling offensive playmakers for their young, big armed quarterbacks. The addition of Rice is an acquisition with the flash to make fans forget that Seattle let their former pro bowl quarterback walk--ironic given the fact that Hasselbeck never had a pro bowl receiver to throw to. 

If Rice can maintain his health and play to his upside, he’s a premier receiver.

But, Seattle didn’t need to acquire a premier receiver or make this strong of a move for a player who has played 16 games in a season only once.

Here’s to hoping the Seahawks don’t find themselves wondering in 2013; what if we hadn’t signed Sidney Rice?