Durability concerns were valid. The Minnesota Vikings wanted to re-sign Rice, but they had concerns about the receiver's ability to stay healthy. So did other teams considering options in free agency. Rice suffered a labrum injury in his shoulder during practice before the season. Knee problems slowed him during the season. Two concussions in recent weeks precipitated the IR move.
2011 Seahawks UFA Class
Rice's hip wasn't the issue. Most of the Rice-related injury concerns in free agency stemmed from the microfracture hip surgery Rice underwent while with the Vikings. Rice's hip seems to have held up OK.
Seattle has good depth. The Seahawks never had to worry about losing a receiver as talented as Rice in recent seasons. That is because they did not have any receivers as talented as Rice. How bad was their receiver situation in the past? They remain better at the position now, even without Rice. Rookie Doug Baldwin has taken some big hits, however. Can he hold up? Ben Obomanu has suffered from drops in recent weeks. Mike Williams has struggled. So, even though the depth is better than it was, questions remain. The group needs to improve.
Protecting Rice was a wise move. Rice represents a long-term investment. Seattle signed him for this season, sure, but the long-term future matters more -- both for Rice personally, and for the team. Rice is 25 years old. No sense in risking his health. This had to be an easier decision for all involved given those considerations and the fact that Seattle will not qualify for the playoffs, anyway.
The chart shows the players Seattle signed from other teams in unrestricted free agency. All but backup Atari Bigby and the long-ago-released Jeff Reed have missed games to injury.