On paper it makes no sense.
Sidney Rice leaves the team that drafted him and watched him flourish.
He does so, heading straight for a team with an even worse quarterback situation and leaving one of the best running back’s in the league behind in Minnesota.
The Vikings had promising skill position players and a young quarterback, picked 12th overall, who could have grown with Rice into his prime. The storybook wasn’t supposed to end this way.
Maybe he really was mad that he didn’t get a contract extension before last season. And you know what? He might’ve gotten less money back then too, without any competitors to drive up the price and without the Seahawks desperate to fill their salary cap requirements under the new CBA.
But, really, why did Sidney Rice decide to leave the Vikings?
Something else must've been in play behind the scenes.
I do hope it was all about the money, because if that’s the case, then it is really all on Rice’s shoulders. It was his decision, and Seattle must’ve offered more money, so he took it and ran.
But then again, if you watched the Percy Harvin try to keep the Vikings’ pass game afloat last season it was painful to watch. They didn’t average more than 195 yards per game, and finished 26th in the league in passing. The quarterback play will do a lot to change that, but so would a healthy Sidney Rice. Part of me wishes the Vikings had opened the pocketbook for him.
When you look at it: 5-years, $44 million, including more than $18 million guaranteed is a lot of money. By not spending it on Rice — and by all means I’m sure with a little maneuvering they could have afforded it — the Vikings said one thing loud and clear:
This is Adrian Peterson’s football team. And we’re going to run the ball down your throat.
And if the Vikings didn’t mean to say that, then they might as well have, because there are no other options now anyways. There are no impact wide receivers left on the market — not Malcolm Floyd, not an injured Steve Smith in New York, not Braylon Edwards. They aren’t game changers. They’re nice players.
I don’t want to throw money at any of those guys. Sidney Rice was the Vikings’ last opportunity at an immediately balanced offense. Because if the Brett Favre saga has taught everyone in Minnesota anything, it’s that a superior scheme and superb quarterback play can make any offense dangerous through the air. It doesn’t exactly matter if it’s Greg Camarillo or Devin Aromashodu lined up in the X, if you’ve got a quality quarterback.
That’s what you’ve got to keep telling yourself anyways, because neither is Sidney Rice.
Ponder could one day be that kind of quarterback, and at this stage in his career, Donovan McNabb should be considered a game-manager, as well as a smart and savvy quarterback.
We’ll see if either one can carry a passing game by themselves. But with Rice around that would’ve accelerated the process a bit, especially with a veteran like McNabb.
I hope the Vikings don’t turn around and give the money they were offering Rice to a lesser player.
By all accounts, Minnesota doesn’t have a whole lot of money left to spend. But it should go all in on this Peterson approach. Find a few veteran offensive lineman who can be trusted. Throw money at the defense, and the secondary in particular, and hope Fred Pagac’s guys can hold teams to less than 20 points per game, which would rank in the top-third in the NFL.
Do those things, because right now, still, even had Rice been signed, there are holes all over this team. Signing Sidney wouldn’t have plugged up the leaks for Peterson on the line, which it seems Leslie Frazier is hoping has a bounce back season. And signing Sidney wouldn’t have created stability in the back half of the defense, to instill more confidence in Pagac when he dials up those blitzes.
Go get a Jonathan Joseph or one of the respected Falcons’ guards who are up for free agency. Take that money and buy into the philosophy you’re forced into now.
Trying to win through the air isn’t really a reliable option anyways with McNabb or Ponder. Maybe the Vikings realized that and capped how much they would offer Rice.
Just do something, though, because standing pat now would lead to disaster. Say the offensive line doesn’t rebound, and Peterson’s numbers continue to drop as opponents stack the box with defenders. Then the defense continues to regress, without the serviceable Ray Edwards (probably) or Kevin Williams for the first four games of the season. Even those reliable veterans, who you think you can count on, are another year older.
The Vikings have gotten worse since their 6-10 season, as they’ve barely upgraded in some positions (quarterback, tight end) and failed to address a host of others.
At this crucial moment for the franchise, whom can you trust?
There’s only one. So put your money and faith into a plan centered on Adrian Peterson.