Tarvaris Jackson’s first pass as a Seahawk didn’t involve a football. Jackson tossed a suggestion Pete Carroll’s way back on July 26 when free agency began: Give Sidney Rice a call right now. No sooner had Jackson agreed to become a Seahawk than he joined their pursuit of Rice, his teammate the past four seasons in Minnesota.
“It helped us with Sidney, obviously, in terms of recruiting,” general manager John Schneider said. So did Darrell Bevell, Rice’s former offensive coordinator in Minnesota who now holds that same position in Seattle. Seattle’s offense didn’t undergo an overhaul this year so much as a transplant, Seattle taking Minnesota’s offensive coordinator, quarterback and wide receiver in that order. That makes today’s exhibition game between the Seahawks and Vikings as much a reunion as a coincidence.
No one knew the Seahawks would turn into Minnesota West when the exhibition schedule was released, but now, this home debut for Seattle’s reformulated offense will also be Minnesota’s chance to look at those who got away.
Bevell’s departure wasn’t surprising as he had been the handpicked offensive coordinator of Brad Childress, who was let go as Vikings coach. Minnesota was looking to move in a different direction from Jackson, who was displaced as the Vikings’ starter each of the previous three seasons.
The departure of Rice, however, is still a bit of a sore subject in Minnesota. He is just 24 years old, and he was a Pro Bowl selection after finishing with 1,312 receiving yards in 2009.
Yet when free agency opened, Rice said coach Leslie Frazier was the only person from Minnesota who called to court him.
Was Rice surprised the Vikings weren’t more aggressive? “A little bit,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m a Seahawk now. I’m happy with the decision I made, and I look forward to excelling here.”
Rice is 6 feet 4, and he’s the kind of big-play receiver Seattle had been looking to acquire since coach Pete Carroll arrived. The Seahawks brought Brandon Marshall in for a free-agent visit a year ago before he was traded from Denver to Miami. Seattle was also sniffing around Vincent Jackson of San Diego.
The Seahawks made Rice a target in free agency, and they had an agreement in place on the second day teams could talk to free agents from other teams. And while Seattle’s interest wasn’t out of the blue, it did catch some of Rice’s former teammates off guard.
“It caught me by surprise,” Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “But I know the business, and sometimes it works out that way.”
Rice did not play in Seattle’s exhibition opener in San Diego last week because of a bruised shoulder that wasn’t all that serious.
Rice has been impressive in practice with his long arms and great hands. It doesn’t hurt that the coach has already noticed the rapport with Jackson.
“He’s got a chemistry with Sidney already,” Carroll said. “That’s already there.” That could be even more important given this unprecedented offseason. Rice and Jackson are new to Seattle, but they’re pretty familiar with each other as well as Seattle’s offense.