Sidney Rice: The Most Wasted Free Agent Signing of the 2011 Offseason

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Sidney Rice: The Most Wasted Free Agent Signing of the 2011 Offseason
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The truncated 2011 NFL free-agency period may have contributed to several wasted free-agent signings. Some are asserting the oft-injured Sidney Rice is standing at the top of this list.

I would tend to agree...but not for the reason some will think.

The Seattle Seahawks signed Rice to a five-year, $41 million contract. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell wanted to pair him with another former member of his offense in Minnesota, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

There were many critics of the contract Seattle offered to Rice. They pointed out he had only one strong season with the Vikings, a Pro Bowl campaign in 2009.

However, when watching him on the field, the talent is obviously there. He is 6'4" and 200 pounds, giving him a size edge over most corners in the NFL. He isn't a blazer, but he has solid speed. His real talent comes in his ability to leap and out-duel defenders to the ball. 

There are few players in the NFL who have better body control, and he has some of the best hands on the field.

My concern was him being able to get off the sidelines, as he'd missed games in three of his four seasons.  

Staying to form, Rice missed Seattle's first two games with a shoulder injury. Many fans were concerned he'd be lost for the season, and he's had other nagging injuries along the way.

Rice is questionable for Week 10 with a foot injury.

Who is the most disappointing 2011 signing?

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Jackson has had his injury issues—a pectoral strain has led to him missing about seven quarters of play over three games. It isn't a surprise with the amount of contact he's taken thus far.

When the two are clicking, the results have been very good. They connected for 109 yards in Rice's Seahawk debut in Week 3. Rice also had a 100-yard game against a highly touted (but overrated, as I discussed in the game matchups) Cincinnati defense.

However, he recorded just 38 of the team's 315 receiving yards against the Giants. He repeated that total the following game in Cleveland.

Rice is still on pace to have a respectable season. His production through six games projects a 1,000 yard season on over 60 receptions. However, Seattle was anticipating Rice to be much more than respectable. They paid him No. 1 receiver money but aren't getting the expected returns.

The easy response is Rice is an overpaid bust.

The easy answer is quite often wrong, though, and it is certainly incorrect here. 

Rice leads the team in receiving yards while only playing in six of eight games. Granted, he is only one yard ahead of an undrafted rookie, Doug Baldwin. 

While some will say Rice is falling well short of expectations, the entire offense has struggled. Quarterback play has been inconsistent at best, hampered by a lack of time and occasions of inaccuracy and poor decision making.

The offensive line has certainly been part of the problem. The unit features four new starters and only one of them (Robert Gallery) has played in games in more than two seasons. It has hampered the run and passing games.

Will Rice earn his contract?

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The main reason Rice was signed was to help Seattle win football games. With a record of 2-6, that goal is far from being reached. 

This is the reason Rice is the most wasted free agent signing of the 2011 season. He is a solid route-runner and a legitimate deep threat. He excels using good speed, sure hands and great jumping ability with his aforementioned size. He has found space behind defenders on several occasions this season only to have the quarterback let him down.

Rice would flourish on a playoff team with a solid passer. The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots both went looking for receiver help; had either signed Rice this offseason he would likely be mounting a case for another Pro Bowl berth and could be the difference in his team advancing to the Super Bowl.

The 2011 season is essentially lost for Rice and the Seahawks. Even if they miraculously win their last eight games, they could expect to be tied with the Falcons at 10-6 for the Wild Card and miss out on the playoffs due to a head-to-head loss.

Stepping back into reality, there is good news for Rice. Seattle should be in position to get a top quarterback prospect come April and could also add a talented rookie running back in the second round.

Rice has four more seasons on his contract and can expect to be part of a very good offense.

The offensive line is showing signs of life. Seattle also has a talented receiving corps, including two pass-catching tight ends that will be more active when they are no longer needed as much in pass protection.

It might be premature to talk about just how far this team can go in 2013, but it will certainly be a much better showing than the wasted season of 2011.

 

DATE

Opp

REC

YDS

AVG

LNG

TD

09/25/11

    ARI

8

109

13.6

32

0

Sun 10/2

    ATL

3

79

26.3

52

1

Sun 10/9

    NYG

4

38

9.5

16

0

Sun 10/23

    CLE

2

38

19.0

38

0

Sun 10/30

    CIN

7

102

14.6

35

0

Sun 11/6

    DAL

3

69

23.0

43

0

Totals

     

27

435

16.1

52

1

Projected Season Totals

     

63

1015

 

 

2



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