Vikings Were Shrewd To Let Sidney Rice Walk

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice was placed on injured reserve today, in effect ending his season. He’ll end up finishing the 2011 season with 32 receptions for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pedestrian like numbers.

What’s funny though is 32 receptions is actually the second highest number of caught balls in Sidney’s career for a season. Vikings fans don’t remember that though. They have a Jackal & Hyde memory of Sidney. The best of Sidney was the 2009 version who was debatably the best wide receiver in all of football sprinting downfield, using superior body control and his 40” vertical to outleap defensive backs being the beneficiary for Brett Favre’s gunslinging ways. My God was 83 receptions for 1312 yards and 8 touchdowns on a Brad Childress “Kick Ass Offense” fun from the then 23-year-old Sidney. Then after the NFC Championship loss to the Saints (banging my head against the keyboard) he reverted to Sidney we saw in 2007 and 2008… loaded with talent, but brittle as a football player can be and, with the exception of Favre, never had a solid quarterback throwing him the ball.

So when free agency rolled along this offseason only the Vikings and Seahawks bid for Sidney and we simply weren’t going to give him the five-year, $41 million with $18.5 million guaranteed that Seattle did. Unfortunately for Seahawks fans they got the injured version of Sidney who’s had two concussions, a knee injury and labrum damage in his shoulder all just this season. With the Vikings it was numerous injuries, most notable was the microfracture surgery in his hip — which has apparently held up okay this season. In Seattle’s defense it was smart to shut Sidney down for the season being out of the playoff race. When head coach Pete Carroll was asked on Sidney today he said, “Here’s what we know: He’s a great player. We see the stuff that he can do and the impact he can have. But unfortunately, we never got the continuity of getting all of the benefits of his play. It will happen. You can see the dynamics of his catching ability and ability to make special plays. It’s obvious. We’ll get him right and get him fit.” Still Pete, that’s a lot injuries to a guy who is just 25-years old and has 4 more years on his contract to fill. Plus another concussion could beg the question of if it’s really worth it for Sidney to keep playing football.

Going back to the Vikings, it appears they were wise to let Sidney walk. And for the sake of sanity on this blog post… we won’t go back and revisit the decision to keep Bernard Berrian. The Vikings are likely to search for a legit #1 wide receiver this offseason to pair with Percy Harvin be it through the draft or free agency. DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd, Pierre Garcon, Mario Manningham and Robert Meachem are all free agents assuming they are not franchise tagged. As to the conversion on who makes the most sense is for another day. For now, be grateful the Vikings got the only good year out of five from the second best wide receiver named Rice.

Jon Merckle may be followed on Twitter @thevikingpig

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