The Seattle Seahawks landed one of the top players in free agency this year, and concluded the second day of free agency Wednesday by agreeing to terms ex-Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and Oakland Raiders free agent Robert Gallery, according to a league sources.
SIDNEY RICEThe Seattle Seahawks landed one of the top players in free agency this year, with a league source confirming on Wednesday that the team had agreed to terms with former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Terms were not disclosed, but according to an ESPN report, Rice agreed to a five-year, $41 million deal, of which $18.5 million is guaranteed. Incentives could increase the total value to $44 million, the report said.
The deal is not official until Rice passes a physical and signs his contract on Friday. But one day after losing the face of the Seahawks for the past decade in quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle added a young player in Rice who should help young quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, who will compete for the starting quarterback job.
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Rice, 24, was considered one of Seattle’s main targets when free agency started Tuesday. And Seattle had familiarity working in its favor, with former Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now serving as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator and former Minnesota quarterback Jackson agreeing Tuesday to sign with Seattle as a free agent.
With future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre commanding Minnesota’s offense in 2009, Rice finished with a career-high 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns, earning the only Pro Bowl berth of his four-year career.
A hip injury limited Rice to six games last season, and he finished with 17 receptions for 280 yards and two touchdowns. There are lingering concerns about whether the injury is fully healed.
It was the second lucrative deal that the Seahawks have given to a free-agent receiver since 2009, and it may fill a key need for a franchise that has craved a true No. 1 receiver.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll flirted with Brandon Marshall in free agency last year but lost out to the Miami Dolphins. They also had conversations with San Diego about trading for Vincent Jackson.
Just two years ago, the Seahawks – then led by general manager Tim Ruskell and coach Jim Mora – signed then-32-year-old T.J. Houshmandzadeh to a five-year, $40 million contract, with $15 million guaranteed.
A year later, with Ruskell and Mora fired, Carroll released Houshmandzadeh, who still was owed more than $6 million in guaranteed money.
The Seahawks are hoping for better results with Rice.
At 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, Rice will be the Seahawks’ starting flanker, giving them another big receiver on the perimeter. Paired with 6-5, 235-pound Mike Williams at split end, and with Ben Obomanu (6-1, 205) likely moving inside to the slot, the Seahawks potentially have one of the more physical receiving groups in the league.
Improved play at receiver should also help jump-start Seattle’s anemic running game, which finished second-to-last in the league in 2010, averaging 89 yards a contest.
Rice, a second-round draft pick out of South Carolina in 2007, had a career-high 201 yards receiving in a game against the Detroit Lions in 2009.
Bring on the big men.
The Seattle Seahawks concluded a busy second day of free agency Wednesday by filling an obvious need at guard, agreeing to terms with Oakland Raiders free agent Robert Gallery on a three-year deal, a league source said.
And they are working on shoring up the other side of the ball up front, battling to retain their own free agent in defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is receiving strong interest from Denver and New Orleans.
Bringing back Mebane remains a priority, but the team will continue to address a lack of depth on the defensive line, with New Orleans Saints free agent defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson reportedly scheduled to visit the team’s facility today.
Gallery joining the Seahawks was one of the worst-kept secrets heading into free agency. With the agreement, the 31-year-old reunited with former Oakland coach Tom Cable, now the offensive line coach for the Seahawks.
The Iowa product provides a much-needed veteran presence for Seattle’s inexperienced offensive line. Before adding Gallery, Seattle’s four other projected starters on the offensive line had 27 starts between them.
Considered an excellent run blocker, Gallery is expected to play left guard next to talented second-year tackle Russell Okung, with Max Unger taking over at center. Rookie draft picks John Moffitt and James Carpenter fill out the rest of the line at right guard and right tackle.
Drafted second overall by the Raiders in 2004, at an imposing 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, Gallery was expected to play left tackle, but never panned out there and moved inside, becoming one of the better guards in the league. He started 91 games for the Raiders.
Gallery helped the Raiders finish second overall in rushing in 2010, with Oakland averaging 156 yards a contest.
Gallery has had his share of injury issues, missing four games last season with a hamstring problem, and 10 games in 2009 because of a broken left leg and a bad back. But he’s an improvement over what Seattle had at left guard, with Seattle starting four players at that position in 2010.
Besides Gallery and Minnesota free agent Sidney Rice joining the Seahawks, the team agreed to terms with undrafted rookie kicker Wes Bynum from Auburn University.
The Seahawks also signed their first draft choices from this year, with seventh-round selection Pep Levingston (defensive tackle) and fifth-round pick Mark LeGree (safety) signing four-year deals.
Seattle also re-signed standout special teams performer Matt McCoy. The San Diego State product led Seattle in special teams tackles last year with 19.
The Seahawks signed Bynum because they lost last year’s starter, veteran Olindo Mare, to the Carolina Panthers in free agency. According to sources, Mare agreed to a four-year, $12 million deal, with $4 million guaranteed, to join the Panthers.
Seattle also lost versatile linebacker Will Herring, who agreed to a three-year deal to join New Orleans with a chance to compete for a starting job, and veteran receiver Brandon Stokley, who joins Washington on a one-year deal.
Also, rumors of a Matt Leinart-Pete Carroll reunion in Seattle came to a halt when the former USC quarterback re-signed with the Houston Texans on Wednesday.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks