Looking to bolster a wide receiver depth chart devoid of playmakers, the Seattle Seahawks landed Sidney Rice, the premier wide receiver available in free agency.
The acquisition of Rice immediately upgrades the Seahawks’ passing attack, providing their starting quarterback with a true No. 1 wide receiver, a role Mike Williams was ill-suited for. Who will be starting at quarterback for the Seahawks remains a major question mark, with Charlie Whitehurst and the recently signed Tarvaris Jackson expected to compete in training camp and through the preseason.
Chosen in the second round of the 2007 draft, Rice did little during his first two years in the league before reaching the Pro Bowl in 2009. With Brett Favre at quarterback, Rice had 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.
His production fell dramatically in 2010, however, as poor quarterback play and a hip injury suffered at the end of the 2009 season limited him to just 17 receptions for 280 yards and a pair of scores over six games.
Prior to the Vikings’ acquisition of Donovan McNabb, moving to Seattle would have made little difference to Rice’s fantasy prospects, with each team having major question marks at quarterback. But while McNabb is clearly on the downside of his career, he represents an obvious upgrade over rookie first-round pick Christian Ponder in Minnesota, as well as over the Seahawks’ pair of Whitehurst and Jackson.
In addition, the Vikings’ offense features more talent at the skill positions and along the offensive line than Seattle’s. That figures to limit Rice’s touchdown count with the Seahawks.
In Seattle, Rice will be reunited with former Vikings offensive coordinator Darren Bevell, so he should make a smooth transition to the Seahawks offense—always a concern when a wide receiver joins a new team.
While that is a positive, Rice’s fantasy value takes a hit with his move to Seattle because the Seahawks are likely to struggle with a pair of unproven quarterbacks and a rushing attack that also has major question marks. Rice remains a WR3 but moves down a couple of notches in the rankings, and the odds of him having a big season are far less likely in Seattle than they would have been in Minnesota.