Of course, the Seahawks had Carlson on their roster last season. They lost him to Minnesota when the Vikings paid a premium for him in free agency. Carlson has been hurt and unable to help his new team much. Seattle had had trouble finding a reliable second tight end. The Seahawks released Kellen Winslow. They watched Evan Moore drop what would have been a game-changing reception at San Francisco two weeks ago.
The Vikings had Rice on their roster two seasons ago. They lost him to Seattle when the Seahawks paid a premium for him in free agency. Rice struggled with injuries last season. He remains in the early stages of fulfilling expectations with the Seahawks even while emerging as clearly the team's top receiving threat in 2012.
The lesson here is that free agency can often do more harm than good to teams and careers.
The money can make it all worthwhile for players, of course. Teams likewise have budgets to maintain. And in the cases of Carlson and Rice, there were no guarantees either would have flourished had they remained with their original teams.
But with the Vikings and Seahawks facing one another in Week 9, the stories of Carlson and Rice have come into focus. Both were young players when they left their original teams. Both had been relatively high draft choices. Both were worth keeping, but not at any price. And both are missed.
NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert offers additional thoughts in the video.