INDIANAPOLIS — The Seahawks weren’t ready early Friday to confirm a report that they were about to release receiver Sidney Rice.
A few hours later, though, Rice did it for them, tweeting what was apparently his goodbye to Seahawks fans.
“The number #12 will remain on the left side of my chest no matter what!’’ Rice tweeted. “Grateful for the opportunity to share so many special moments w yall.’’
It had been widely speculated since the season ended that the Seahawks would cut ties with Rice, who is due to make $17.5 million in base salary over the next two seasons and is still rehabilitating from a season-ending knee injury suffered Oct. 28. The team has to clear up some salary-cap space in an attempt to sign some of its own free agents, as well as acquire new players.
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ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter took the speculation a step further Friday, tweeting the Seahawks “are releasing’’ Rice, who will be 28 next season. The team said it had nothing to report, and no move by the Seahawks was listed on the NFL’s official transactions Friday.
The report of the imminent release of Rice came a short time after coach Pete Carroll met the media at the NFL Scouting Combine.
He was asked if the team hoped to keep Rice and tight end Zach Miller, another high-priced veteran many have speculated the team might release.
“We hope to,’’ Carroll said. “Our whole thing is we’d like to keep this team together as best as we can. There are very difficult decisions every year you face in the league with contracts and money and cap and all that. Every season is like that. That brings about very challenging decisions for us because we love our team. We love our guys. There are a number of issues we have to deal with. We’ll deal with them as well as we can. But those guys have played great football for us.”
Seattle signed Rice to a five-year, $41 million deal before the 2011 season, envisioning him as the tall, big-play receiver the team lacked.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 while with Minnesota after recording 83 receptions for 1,312 yards.
Rice, though, battled injuries throughout his Seattle career, playing just 33 of a possible 48 regular-season games.
His best season came in 2012 when he had 50 catches for 748 yards.
After battling some knee soreness in training camp in 2013, he was held to just 15 receptions for 231 yards before being injured against St. Louis.
Okung might avoid surgery
Carroll said left tackle Russell Okung might avoid offseason surgery on the toe that caused him to miss eight regular-season games.
Carroll had said shortly after the season that surgery might be necessary, but Friday the coach said that Okung “doesn’t want to get the surgery if he doesn’t have to and none of us want to have to do that. … We are going to continue monitoring it, making sure we are doing the right thing.’’
Carroll said no other Seahawks are scheduled for surgery.
Carroll high on Michael
At an event to prepare for the 2014 draft, Carroll spoke glowingly about the team’s first choice from a year ago, Christine Michael.
The running back was taken in the second round after the team traded away its first-rounder as part of the Percy Harvin deal.
Michael saw action in just four games in 2013 and was on the inactive list for all but one of the last eight games.
But Carroll said he won’t be surprised if Michael becomes a factor in 2014.
“He’s really talented and a really exciting guy in our program,’’ Carroll said. “Probably has the most breakout potential of anybody because we haven’t seen much of him yet.
“It was hard to get in there with Marshawn (Lynch) and Robert Turbin. But he’ll give those guys a real run when we come back to work.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699