Having one of the youngest receiving corps in the NFL, the New England Patriots are in need of a proven, tenured wideout. Yes, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are two of the more experienced guys at the position. But as slot receivers, they can only show so much to the young receivers like Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Giving Sidney Rice a chance to at least to prove himself in training camp this year can only help the team — or at least it can’t hurt.
Rice was released this week by the Seattle Seahawks. Doing so saved the team over $7 million in cap space and helped them be able to focus on guys like Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse. Rice signed a five-year, $41 million deal with the Seahawks in July 2011, but was sidelined with injuries during two of his three years with the team. He also tore his ACL in late October this season and missed the final eight games plus the playoffs. So, the reigning Super Bowl champions didn’t necessarily need him, but he sure would have helped.
Here’s where the Patriots can take advantage of Rice’s skill-set. Thompkins and Dobson are desired to be the future tandem of quality receivers on the Patriots. As rookie wideouts, they struggled with some of the things a veteran leader could easily help with. They had many drops and ran some questionable routes that had Tom Brady more visibly frustrated than we had seen in quite some time. Rice has never been known for any of those mistakes, and he has been known for his reliability and productivity when on the field.
Being only age 27 and a former Pro-Bowler, Rice still has plenty left in the tank. He has seven years experience under his belt, and like I said, he is reliable when healthy. The recovery time for an ACL tear is from about 8-12 months which would leave Rice ready for full contact by October at the latest. I’m willing to bet he’ll be ready by August at the very latest.
Bringing him in on a cheap, one-year, “prove you can stay healthy and be productive” type deal should be an option explored thoroughly by the Patriots. An ACL tear isn’t what it used to be (see: Adrian Peterson), and the Patriots haven’t had a real veteran leader wideout since the likes of Troy Brown nearly eight years ago. Rice should be considered for a roster spot because Brady won’t be around forever and could definitely use some help in whipping Thompkins and Dobson into shape.