Minnesota Vikings Franchise Tag Debate: Sidney Rice

MINNEAPOLIS MN - DECEMBER 05: Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings catches a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5 2010 in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The last of our three potential franchisees is wide receiver Sidney Rice. Rice, who won't turn 25 years of age until September 1, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the 44th overall selection. Here is a look at how Rice has fared as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

Receiving Kickoff Returns Punt Returns
Year G Rec Yds Y/G AVG Lng TD KR YDS AVG Lng TD PR Yds Avg Lng TD
2010 6 17 280 46.7 16.5 46 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009 16 83 1312 82.0 15.8 63 8 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008 13 15 141 10.8 9.4 23 4 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2007 13 31 396 30.5 12.8 60 4 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Of the three players we've discussed for the potential use of the franchise tag, I don't think anybody would argue that Sidney Rice has the most potential. His physical gifts are undeniable, as he's got great size, outstanding leaping ability, and very good hands. Throw in the fact that he's so young, and at first it might look like a no-brainer that if the Vikings are going to use the franchise tag, Sidney Rice is the person they should use it on.

And, yet, it's not really that easy. Why? Well, look at the numbers.

Sidney Rice has battled injuries ever since getting to the Vikings out of South Carolina. . .although in 2010, he didn't so much "struggle" with injuries as he "sat around on his ass until August after getting injured in January and got surgery way later than he should have." There were a lot of events that pushed the Vikings' 2010 season in the direction it went in, but Rice's delay in getting surgery and getting back onto the field may well have been the catalyst for the whole debacle.

Everyone knows that Rice had a great year in 2009. . .they can also see from looking at the above stats that he had more receptions and yards in that season than he has in his other three years in the NFL combined (63 catches for 817 yards in his three non-2009 seasons). It's hard to catch the ball when you can't stay on the field, after all. Out of all the players that felt the benefit of Brett Favre's career renaissance in 2009, it could easily be argued that nobody was a bigger beneficiary than Sidney Rice was. . .Favre trusted him enough to put the ball up in Rice's direction even when Sidney was covered, and Rice's size and leaping ability allowed him to win most battles against defensive backs that season.

Rice would be the youngest of the three options that the Vikings could potentially look at putting the franchise tag on, and he'd also be the cheapest, although the difference in money between him and Chad Greenway is fairly negligible. The franchise figure for a wide receiver in 2010 was $9.52 million dollars, which means the financial difference between franchising him or franchising Greenway would only be about $150,000. With that said, given his injury history, he may also be the biggest risk of the three. Throw in the fact that his agent is Drew Rosensleaze. . .er, Rosenhaus. . .and he could also be the toughest to get a long-term deal completed with.

The Vikings certainly have got an interesting choice ahead of them if they decide to use the franchise tag.

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