The Vikings franchised linebacker Chad Greenway, but they are working on a long-term deal for receiver Sidney Rice.
"We want to get a contract done with him and that's how we're pursuing it. We're going to try to get it done," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The Vikings offered Rice a contract, Frazier said, despite his medical history.
Reports have surfaced over the last few weeks that Rice had a kidney procedure before the 2010 season, along with his hip surgery, and that he also had arthritis in his hip. Frazier downplayed the medical concerns.
"Our medical staff has assured us that he's going to be fine and he's going to be able to play and be productive for years to come and that's how we've approached it, and that's one of the reasons that we extended him a contract and conversation about getting him a contract. So, we feel good about Sidney," Frazier said.
"I really don't want to get into some of the medical questions that are ahead of our guys right now. But the one thing I can tell you is that he's a guy that we want to be a Viking, and we're going to do everything that we're capable of in trying to get that accomplished. We don't have any medical questions regarding Sidney at this point. Our doctors have cleared him. They've made it clear to us, ‘Don't hold back in whatever you want to do to try to get him signed' and that's how we're approaching it."
Frazier said the Vikings talked to Rice before placing the franchise tag on Greenway, just to keep an open line of communication and be sure he knew the team wanted to keep the free-agent-to-be from leaving Minnesota.
"I talked to him before, but I didn't explain to him what we were thinking, because I wasn't quite certain what direction we'd go," Frazier said. "But I have talked to him since and we've had great conversation. He wants to be a Viking and I hope we can get things worked out.
"Sidney is an outstanding player … He's done a great job for us."
After having a Pro Bowl season in 2009 with 1,312 yards receiving on 83 catches, Rice suffered a hip injury late in the season and had surgery only a couple weeks before the 2010 season started, delaying his return to the field. He played in only six games last year and was limited in his production there, catching 17 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns.
Still, the Vikings know his value when he's near full strength and are making attempts to keep him long term.
"He is a high, high priority," Frazier said. "… We want to get Sidney signed and take care of him, because he's going to take care of our football team."
Rice made $550,000 in base salary in 2010, the final year of his rookie contract. Frazier said the Vikings are confident the 2007 second-round pick can return to his Pro Bowl form.
"Without question, we feel that way," Frazier said. "We feel like he'll be productive for years to come and we just want to get the right guy throwing the football to him."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings offer Rice a contract
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