Sidney Rice always has possessed the talent to be a star – he just has struggled to stay healthy. Now a free agent again as he comes off knee reconstruction surgery, Rice should be back on the field sooner than later.
Rice is progressing well in his rehabilitation and expected to be cleared to participate in the start of his new team's offseason program in late April, a person with knowledge of his situation told USA TODAY Sports on Friday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't supposed to discuss medical details publicly.
Rice is still only 27 years old and figures to have a market, injury history notwithstanding. Fully dimensional receivers who can threaten short, intermediate and long with Rice's physical traits (6-foot-4, 202 pounds, 4.5-range speed) are in short supply.
He hurt the knee Oct. 28 in the Seattle Seahawks' win over the Rams in St. Louis, meaning he'll be nearly six months removed from surgery when the offseason program begins and nine months removed when training camp opens in late July.
The Seahawks released Rice on Feb. 28 with two years remaining on a five-year deal that included $18.5 million in guarantees. He played 33 games with the Seahawks, recording 97 catches for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In Seattle, Rice also dealt with concussions and problems with his shoulders, which both required surgery after the 2011 season. He has played all 16 games twice in seven NFL seasons.
The best was with Brett Favre throwing him passes with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009, when Rice had 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. He had hip surgery in August 2010, played in only six games that season and then left for Seattle.