Two days before training camp, the Seattle Seahawks had their first significant roster change.
Veteran Sidney Rice has decided to retire after seven seasons in the NFL, three with the Seahawks.
"After careful consideration and seven wonderful years playing in the National Football League, including the last three for the Seattle Seahawks, I have decided to retire from playing in the National Football League," Rice said in a statement.
"I take great pride in knowing I was one of the players signed to help build the foundation of the team that ultimately won the Super Bowl.”
In three seasons with Seattle, Rice missed 15 games. He was the team’s leading receiver in 2012 with 50 catches for 748 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rice, who battled a series of injuries (knee, shoulder, concussions) during his career, missed half of last season after tearing his ACL Week 8 in St. Louis.
Seattle cut him after the season to create $7.3 million in salary cap space. Rice had signed a five-year, $41 million deal to join the Seahawks in 2011. He anticipated a move from the Seahawks to reduce his salary before eventually returning on a one-year deal worth a reported $1.4 million.
Rice worked diligently to return to the field following knee surgery and was expected to participate in training camp.
Instead, Rice’s retirement reduces the logjam at wide receiver. The Seahawks will likely carry six receivers, and Rice was expected to compete for one of the final spots — assuming his post-surgery knee allowed him to. Rice’s retirement may open a spot for Chris Matthews, signed out of the Canadian Football League in the offseason, and give rookie Kevin Norwood, who excelled in OTAs and minicamp, a solid spot in the receiver rotation.
Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson appear locks for four spots. That leaves Matthews, Norwood, Ricardo Lockette, Bryan Walters and Phil Bates fighting for the final two. Taylor Price, Arceto Clark and rookie Kevin Smith are longshots to make the team.
Rice’s departure also means another veteran voice will leave the Seahawks’ lockerroom following the offseason releases of defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, plus the departure of fullback Michael Robinson. Rice was a leader in the receivers’ meetings, and someone other receivers leaned on even after he got hurt last year.
“Some of those guys look up to me and they express it often,” Rice told the News Tribune over the summer. “They look to me for guidance. I’ve been in this system for seven years. Certain things that they might not understand, I might have a better understanding of. I was still part of the team. Any way I could help them to keep progressing and help them get to the point they got to and win the Super Bowl, I was all for it. I didn’t want to let them down in any sense.”
Rice finishes with 243 receptions for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns in his career in 81 games played with 57 starts.