So, it’s come to pass that (for some of us) our worst fears have been realized- Sidney Rice has played his final days as a Viking. Let me say one thing first: nobody get your hopes up for a last second push by the Vikings to snatch him back from the Seahawks. True, El Sid has yet to officially jump ship, but it’s a done deal. And quite frankly, I think beating a $44 million, 5 year and $18.5 million guaranteed contract, or even matching it, is beyond the Vikings at this point.
Before I continue, let me explain why exactly that is. There’s the obvious issue of cap space. Of course, releasing Bernard Berrian and Madieu Williams and signing Adrian Peterson to a much-needed and much-deserved extension would probably solve that issue- although, we’re not sure exactly yet what McNabb’s coming in at. But there is another, and larger, issue at stake here- the nature of the gamble. Sidney Rice has performed at a Pro-Bowl level… for exactly one season. Before the 2009 season, the man was well on his way to ‘draft bust’ status. And while he did have a shining moment here and there when he did return in 2010… well, at least to me, it just wasn’t quite the same. It’s still a valid question to ask: was it Brett Favre who made him who he was in 2009?
There is also the issue of that hip. He’s not proven yet that it won’t be a lingering issue, or that he won’t be injury-prone. A hip injury can be something that stays with you, and it can cost you a step. And let’s face it- while Rice wasn’t exactly a slow guy, he wasn’t a speed demon, either. His skill came primarily in height, jump, size, and solid hands. If he’s lost a step due to this injury, his skills may diminish considerably.
Did I want Rice to stick around? Absolutely. Am I upset that he’s departed? Yes. Because all of those above issues could be nothing- again, it’s a gamble. The Seahawks have rolled the dice, and they may end up winning big.
But for the Vikings, at our stage, we aren’t truly in the same position to make such a gamble. Without Sidney Rice, the Seahawks… well, they’re still the Seahawks, just with Tavaris Jackson under center instead of Matt Hasselback. Without Sidney Rice, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shianco, and a defense that should begin to show what it can do again (hoping Cedric Griffin remains healthy and on the field). We’re just not in the position to roll the dice at those high of stakes, especially considering we’ve got other pieces to fill (D-line, secondary, O-line) as well as some other contract issues looming (AP). While the Seahawks have their fair share of holes to fill, we’re much closer than they are- we can’t focus too much on just one guy (Peterson being the exception).
So- we’ve covered that. Sad day for some as it may be, it’s ou revrois to Sidney Rice, and the Vikings now need to move on and figure out what we’re going to do at WR. More after the jump.
The Vikings do now undeniably have a hole to fill. If you need proof, I point you to evidence a: 2010, early part of the season of. Without a serious threat at wideout who can stretch the field, Percy Harvin becomes limited, and defenses are more willing to stack the box against Adrian Peterson. Still, some things are different. For example, we have Kyle Rudolph, and the ability (and apparent intention) to run some two TE sets with him and Shianco. We’ve also beefed up a bit at WR- Emmanuel Arceneaux and Devin Aromashodu are both new additions, and Jaymar Johnson should be seeing the field. As much as some people seem to think now that Berrian will be sticking around, I’m still just not seeing it, at least not without a major contract re-structuring. (I could of course be totally wrong.)
And there are options in FA. Braylon Edwards, Malcom Floyd, James Jones, and Mike Sims-Walker are all available… but none are sure-fire bets to be the great, necessary #1 WR that we want and need, and there’s no certainty that any may come at a price any cheaper than what would have cost to keep Sidney Rice.
There are of course also the options of Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress… but mark my words, neither of those will ever happen. Ever. The idea of Larry Fitzgerald, however, is certainly an intriguing one… being a Minnesota boy and all, I’d like to think we’d at least make a play at that. Still, that one seems unlikely to me- I think Fitz will be sticking around in Arizona. (Must be nice for your superstar, #1 WR to show some team loyalty…)
So, here are the Vikings’ options:
- Do nothing. Hope that from Arceneaux, Johnson, and Aromashodu, someone will step up and fill the gap, and that with our two TE sets coupled with AP being… well, AP AD, we’ll be just fine.
- Pick up someone else out of FA. Rumors are swirling regarding James Jones in particular.
- Make a play for Larry Fitzgerald. He wouldn’t come any cheaper than Sidney Rice, but the ‘gamble’ factor just isn’t there- the man will perform.
What will the Vikings do? What do you think, my faithful purple brethren? How will the Vikes continue to prepare for their ascent in 2011 now that El Sid has jumped longship?