When the Seahawks concluded minicamp in June, coach Pete Carroll spoke enthusiastically about the chances of receiver Sidney Rice getting back on the field in 2014.
“He’s in great shape now,’’ Carroll said. “He looks fantastic.’’
The Seahawks, though, won’t find out how much Rice might have been able to help them this season. He announced Wednesday he is retiring at age 27 after seven years in the NFL and myriad injuries that led to his decision to walk away.
Rice was in the process of rehabbing an ACL tear suffered Oct. 28 at St. Louis, but also had a history of other knee problems, as well as a concussion that caused him to miss five games in 2011 and hip surgery that held him out of 10 games in 2010.
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“I was just thinking about things I’ve been through in the last few years,” Rice told the team’s website. “I’ve hit the ground a number of times. I have quite a few injuries. It’s something I’ve always battled through and came back from. But I just figure at this point I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I want to be able to function and do things later down the road.”
Rice, who played at South Carolina and then was a second-round pick of the Vikings in 2007, signed a five-year deal worth up to $41 million with the Seahawks in 2011. Seattle envisioned the 6-foot-4 Rice giving them the tall receiving target they lacked, and hoped for more seasons like his 2009 campaign, when he caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards for Minnesota.
But his Seattle career was beset by injuries. He played in just nine games in 2011 and eight in 2013 and 33 of a possible 48 overall. His best season was 2012 when he played in all 16 games and led the Seahawks with 50 receptions for 748 yards.
He missed much of training camp last season with knee issues, at one point traveling to Switzerland to have a platelet-rich-plasma type procedure on his knee. He recovered well enough to play in the first eight games, catching 15 passes, before tearing his ACL in a win at St. Louis.
As had been widely projected, the Seahawks cut Rice shortly after the season in a salary-cap related move. He had been due to receive $9.7 million in 2014, and releasing him saved the Seahawks $7.3 million off the salary cap.
The Seahawks re-signed him a few weeks later to a one-year, $1 million deal, hoping they might have something of a steal if he returned to full health.
Instead, Rice will head off into new ventures that the team said in a news release include having recently invested in five Wingstop restaurants, the first of which opened in June in Tacoma. Rice, a native of Gaffney, S.C., plans to continue to live in Seattle, according to the team’s website.
Even if healthy, Rice wasn’t considered a lock to make the roster. Seattle returns Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse as likely regulars in the rotation, and also added second-round pick Paul Richardson and fourth-rounder Kevin Norwood. Also back are Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters, who were each on the active roster for the Super Bowl.
Seattle also signed 6-5 Chris Matthews out of the Canadian Football League as a possible big receiver option, and has 12 receivers on its roster.
Rice’s retirement leaves Seattle with one open spot on its 90-man roster with training camp set to begin Friday.
|Sidney Rice has the fourth-best average yards per catch in Seahawks history, among players with 90 or more receptions.|
|Sidney Rice file|
|Selected by Vikings in second round (44th overall) of 2007 draft.|
|Note: Scored four TDs in 2009 postseason with Vikings.|