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Monday, February 28, 2011
BBAO: Rice presuming future UFA status

By Kevin Seifert

We're Black and Blue All Over:

As we set to embark on an unprecedented week in NFL history, we already have a bit of lockout-related news: The agent for Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice said his client won't re-sign with the team before having an opportunity to test his market value in free agency, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Rice has four accrued seasons, which technically makes him a restricted free agent under the rules of an uncapped year in place as of today. But agent Drew Rosenhaus is no doubt expecting the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to revert back to the previous system that would make Rice unrestricted, free to sign with any team and thus in position to negotiate a more lucrative contract.

The Vikings have already used their franchise tag on linebacker Chad Greenway and might not have a method for blocking Rice's movement under the new CBA. We're a long way from that moment, but that's my educated guess for why Rosenhaus has taken this stance.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has informed Rice he wants him back, but business is business. Obviously the team hasn't hit a contract number that Rice and Rosenhaus would agree to. Rice has had only one healthy season in his four years with the team, and the microfracture surgery he had on his hip last summer was significant. As a result, the Vikings are approaching his situation more cautiously than you might expect.

Continuing around the NFC North: