Frazier: Vikings make offer to Sidney Rice, whose health is no issue
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Concerns about Sidney Rice's health don't appear to be disturbing the Minnesota Vikings' plans to re-sign their No. 1 receiver.
Coach Leslie Frazier on Friday morning said the Vikings have extended a contract offer to Rice, who missed all of training camp and the first nine regular-season games last season because of a hip injury that reportedly continues to bother him.
"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," Frazier said during a conversation with Twin Cities reporters at the NFL scouting combine.
"That's how we've approached it, and that's one of the reason that we extended him a contract and conversation about getting him a contract. So, we feel good about Sidney."
Given the Vikings' reluctance to sign anyone to multi-year deals until the NFL's labor situation is resolved, it seems likely they offered a one-year tender, with the assumption four-year veterans no longer will be eligible for unrestricted free agency under the next collective-bargaining agreement.
Rice's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said on Friday morning he's "not commenting on Sidney."
Frazier indicated the Vikings considered using the franchise tag on Rice, too, before they tagged linebacker Chad Greenway on Monday.
"That doesn't mean that we don't want Sidney as a Minnesota Viking, because we do," Frazier said. "He is a high, high priority, and I didn't want him to be sensitive about the fact that it was Chad being franchised instead of Sidney. That does not mean that we're not going to do right by Sidney, but we couldn't franchise both of them. We want to get Sidney signed and take care of him, because he's going to take care of our football team."
Rice, 24, enjoyed a breakout 2009 season with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to the Pro Bowl. But he injured the hip in the January 2010 NFC championship game, then waited until August to have a still-unknown procedure on the hip amid speculation he was unhappy with his $550,000 base salary.
The Star Tribune reported on Friday that "close friends" of Rice say surgery didn't cure the problem and he's now battling arthritis. Another recent Star Tribune report said Rice had a kidney procedure shortly before training camp last year, too.
"I really don't want to get into some of the medical questions that are ahead of our guys right now," Frazier said. "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."
Asked if he's confident Rice can repeat his 2009 season, Frazier said "without question, we feel that way."
The transition tag, which would have given the Vikings right of first refusal if Rice signed elsewhere, was not an option, Frazier said.
"I talked to him before (Greenway was tagged), 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."