Rice puts Jackson in Seahawks' driver's seat

Posted July 27, 2011 @ 11:12 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Picking up where they left off last season, when they seemed to be making transactions morning, noon and night in their first year under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks highlighted a second-straight hectic day on the personnel front with the high-profile free-agent addition of WR Sidney Rice, who reportedly agreed to terms on a five-year deal, according to both Fox Sports' Jay Glazer and ESPN's Adam Schefter. The firth-year receiver's deal with the Seahawks is worth $41.5 million, according to ProFootballTalk.com, with ESPN reporting the deal is worth up to $44 million. Both sites reported the deal includes $18.5 million in guaranteed money.

Rice, who played in just six games for the Vikings due to a hip injury last season but had an outstanding season the year before in Minnesota with 1,312 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, would appear to clearly make newly acquired QB Tavaris Jackson, Rice's teammate in Minnesota, the top candidate to direct a Seahawks offense coordinated by Darrell Bevell. Bevell was the Vikings' offensive coordinator the last five seasons and has coached Rice and Jackson throughout their professional careers.

The PFW spin

Coming off a tumultuous Tuesday featuring a dramatic changing of the guard at the QB position with longtime starter Matt Hasselbeck moving on to Tennessee, the drama didn't figure to be nearly as heavy one day later. But that wasn't the case, as the addition of Rice, who immediately shapes up as the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver, was preceded by the addition of free agent Robert Gallery, who had been considered for months to be a perfect fit at left guard in the offensive line being reconstructed by new assistant head coach / OL coach Tom Cable, and the loss of a pair of very serviceable free agents, PK Olindo Mare and reserve LB Will Herring, who agreed to terms with the Panthers and Saints, respectively.

Neither Mare, who became one of the league's most automatic FG kickers after getting publicly chewed out two years ago by former head coach Jim Mora, nor Herring, an extremely underrated player who came up huge with key plays down the stretch last season, will be easy to replace. But the mood had to have brightened considerably after adding Rice, who, provided he can stay healthy, can give the Seahawks one of the league's more potentially imposing 1-2 punches at wide receiver along with Mike Williams, who had a breakthrough season in Seattle last year. All of the sudden, an intriguing offense very similar to that of the Vikings under Bevell could be in the works, with Rice maintaining the same role he had in Minnesota, Williams becoming a 6-foot-5 version of Vikings WR Bernard Berrian, RB Marshawn Lynch stealing a page from Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and, in a perfect world, second-year WR Golden Tate following in the footsteps of Minnesota all-purpose threat Percy Harvin.

Of course, that scenario could go up in smoke if both Rice and Williams, who also had his share of ailments last season, fail to stay healthy, and Jackson continues the spotty play that kept him from becoming a full-fledged starter in Minnesota.

The bottom line?

It looks like the Seahawks will once again keep observers guessing week to week whether they are a genuine playoff contender or a very eccentric but exciting pretender.