SEATTLE — In their search for a big receiver to complement their 2014 offense, the Seattle Seahawks turned Wednesday to a familiar face — Sidney Rice.
League sources confirmed that Rice has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Seahawks roughly six weeks after having been released by the team. Rice posted on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon that he would soon be rejoining the Seahawks, writing: “Aaayyyyooo 12s. SEA you in a few.. IM COMIN’ HOME!”
The 6-foot-4 Rice becomes Seattle’s tallest receiver with NFL experience. His re-signing means that the Seahawks will return all of their 2013 receivers except for Golden Tate, who signed with the Detroit Lions.
Financial terms of Rice’s deal with the Seahawks were not immediately disclosed but it is expected to be for much less than the $9.7 million he had been scheduled to earn in 2014. Seattle officially released Rice in late February in a move that saved the team $7.3 million off its 2014 salary cap.
Also an issue at that time was Rice’s health. He tore an ACL in a game at St. Louis on Oct. 28, missing the rest of the season. Rice caught 15 passes in eight games before the injury. Rice, though, tweeted earlier in the week that he had been cleared to make cuts in workouts, a significant step on his road to recovery.
Several teams had reportedly expressed interest in signing Rice, and a source confirmed that he held a meeting with the Jets this week. But sources had also said that the Seahawks had been interested in re-signing Rice since the moment he was released, pending his health and willingness to agree on a less-expensive contract.
Shortly before the decision to cut Rice, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had expressed enthusiasm over Rice’s recovery.
“He’s had an unbelievable recovery from his surgery,’’ Carroll said in February. “Within weeks he was back up with almost total reflection and extension, and it’s just almost an unheard of type of recovery. It’s so far ahead of schedule, so that’s great for Sid. We’ll see how that turns out, but right off the bat we’ve never seen anybody like that.’’
If Rice continues on the same schedule he should be ready for the beginning of the 2014 season. If healthy, the Seahawks hope Rice could turn into the big, and big-play, receiver the team envisioned when they signed him after four years in Minnesota in 2011. He will enter his eighth NFL season in 2014, but doesn’t turn 28 until Sept. 1.
Seattle signed Rice to a five-year deal worth $41 million on July 29, 2011, enticed in large part by his 2009 season, when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards. However, that’s one of only two seasons in which Rice has been able to play all 16 games.
A shoulder injury and a concussion held Rice to just nine games in his first year with the Seahawks in 2011. He played in all 16 in 2012, leading the team with 50 catches for 748 yards.
But he battled a nagging knee injury throughout the 2013 season before suffering the injury at St. Louis. He has caught 97 passes for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons with the Seahawks.
Several other receivers also return. Doug Baldwin is a restricted free agent on whom the team recently placed a second-round tender, and Percy Harvin is expected to be healthy after playing just one regular-season game in 2013. Also back are Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette, but all are 6-2 or shorter.
Seattle recently signed 6-5 Chris Matthews, who played at Kentucky and was named the top rookie in the Canadian Football League in 2012, with 95 catches for 1,330 yards.