Agent: Rice would like to test market

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 28, 2011 - 7:52 AM

Drew Rosenhaus said his client wants to see what's out there before considering a long-term contract with the Vikings.

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Vikings receiver Sidney Rice.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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INDIANAPOLIS - The agent for Sidney Rice said Sunday that the wide receiver will not re-sign with the Vikings before first testing the free-agent market.

Drew Rosenhaus, who refused to talk about Rice's situation when approached Thursday, told ESPN that his client will become a free agent whenever that period starts.

Rosenhaus and Vikings executives were scheduled to meet over the weekend at the NFL scouting combine, and the Vikings' hope was to sign Rice to a long-term deal. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Friday that the Vikings had offered Rice a contract.

There is no certainty that Rice will hit unrestricted free agency this offseason. The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement means there could be a work stoppage on Friday, the day free agency is supposed to begin.

Rice just completed his fourth season. Under the terms of the current CBA, a player needs six years of service to become an unrestricted free agent, and there is no guarantee that Rice's four seasons will put him on the open market.

If, for instance, the new CBA calls for a player to have five seasons of service before he's unrestricted, the Vikings potentially could put a restricted free agent tender on Rice and have the opportunity to retain his rights on a one-year deal.

Rice is coming off a season in which he had hip surgery in August and played in only six games.

The Vikings placed their franchise tag on linebacker Chad Greenway instead of Rice, but Frazier said that move in no way should reflect poorly on Rice.

"[Rice] is a high, high priority, and I didn't want him to be sensitive about the fact that it was Chad being franchised instead of Sidney," Frazier said. "That does not mean that we're not going to do right by Sidney, but we couldn't franchise both of them. We want to get Sidney signed and take care of him, because he's going to take care of our football team."

 

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