While the Seahawks' re-signing of Sidney Rice is a nice feel-good story for his teammates and for fans who were distressed over the loss of nearly a dozen players off the Super Bowl roster, it's nothing to get too excited about.
The Seahawks are still very likely to draft a receiver or two in three weeks, and if they do there is a chance Rice won’t even make the final roster.
Rice is a big (6 feet 4), athletic receiver with good hands and great body control on jump balls and sideline routes. But he just can't stay healthy. He's 27 going on 38.
While he has been cleared to return to the field just six months after suffering a torn ACL, Rice is still a frail player. The Hawks have monitored his practice time pretty much since he got to Seattle in 2011. He has had issues with his knees, feet and shoulders, among other things, and will always need to be handled with kid gloves.
That is why the Seahawks cut him in the first place back in February. He was not worth the $8.5 million salary his contract called for this year, and the Hawks saved $7.3 million by releasing him.
His only healthy season in Seattle was 2012, when he caught 50 passes for 748 yards and seven scores. But that was hardly worth the $7 million he was paid.
He had become the latest in a growing list of big-money receiver busts for the Hawks. Under the $41 million contract he signed in 2011, he was paid $23.5 million for 97 receptions, 1,463 yards and 12 TDs in 33 games. That's $16,000 per yard or $242,000 per catch or $1.96 million per touchdown.
“When you sign big contracts like that, there’s always risk at some point down the line,” general manager John Schneider told Seahawks.com. "We just got to the point where, at the time, we weren’t able to carry that. We had a good conversation when Sidney left. He knew we wanted him back.”
His new deal reportedly is for one year and a little more than the minimum, which for him would be $855,000. It is probably stacked with incentives.
It basically is a no-risk deal for the Hawks, who know how Rice fits into their offense and can only hope he might stay healthy for just the third time in his eight-year career.
“We’ve got to keep him healthy and help him in any way we can,” Schneider said. “If that’s the case, if he’s healthy, he’s an excellent, excellent receiver.”
Rice returns to a receiving corps that presently is led by Percy Harvin (who has his own injury history to overcome), Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. The Hawks also have a handful of hopefuls, some of whom have been on the 53-man roster previously: Ricardo Lockette, Phil Bates, Bryan Walters, Arceto Clark, Chris Matthews and Taylor Price. The Hawks also are likely to add at least one receiver in a draft that is loaded with pass catchers.
Rice's return alleviates the loss of Golden Tate, who signed with Detroit, and means the Hawks don't have to force a receiver pick in the draft. And if Rice can stay healthy and make the team, he probably will offer his usual two or three moments of key help during the season.
For now, though, his re-signing is just a feel-good story for a team that had to let a lot of players go.
The Seahawks' offensive line was their greatest weakness in 2013, and they are expected to address it, ahem, heavily in the draft.
Perhaps incumbent guards James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy are feeling that draft, because they both apparently have spent the offseason working on their physiques.
Carpenter apparently has been working hard and has slimmed down. On Instagram a week ago, the left guard posted a workout picture and said, "Feeling blessed, healthy and light in the 320s."
"Light in the 320s" implies that he might have been "heavy in the 340s" last season. Carpenter is facing a make-or-break season, and he apparently is preparing to beat out any challengers (Alvin Bailey, Michael Bowie or a rookie).
Meanwhile, Sweezy said he gained 20 pounds working out in Florida this offseason. That would put the right guard around 320 as well – he was listed at 298 last season.
“I love it,’’ Sweezy recently told the newspaper in his hometown of Mooresville, N.C. "At this level, you just have to. It’s more like a job, but you have to stay in shape."
Basically, the transitive property seems to be in effect on Seattle's line, with Carpenter's extra weight shifting to Sweezy. Maybe that will make for a more balanced attack in 2014.
MORE HAWK TALK
**WR coach Kippy Brown is confident his squad will be fine without Tate. He told Seahawks.com: “A talent like Golden is tough to replace. It really is. He did a lot of good things for us. But I think we’ve got the pieces in place and we have a lot of guys who are capable.”
**DL coach Travis Jones talked to Seahawks.com about his unit and his pass-rush philosophy: “I don’t believe in just sacks. I believe in affecting the quarterback. So every time the ball comes off the line, you’ve got to find a way to affect the quarterback. It can be a reset. It can be a hit. It can be batting a pass down. It came be a variety of things. Like in the Super Bowl. There were multiple quarterback resets from linemen getting powered back into him. There were tipped passes. There were forced bad throws. Those things add up, and I think you have to approach it like that whenever you rush anybody, because the sacks will come if you’re doing those other things.”
**DB coach Kris Richard told Seahawks.com he is counting on young players such as Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon and DeShawn Shead to replace Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond. “We’ve got some younger guys that we’re obviously going to be looking to as far as having a much bigger role -- primarily Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon,” Richard said. “Again, here we go. Next man up. Let’s go.”