The Minnesota Vikings have made no secret of their desire to re-sign wide receiver Sidney Rice.

As the St. Louis Rams know very well, one of the keys to developing a young quarterback is having good targets for him to throw to, and with the Vikings hoping to bring along first-round draft pick Christian Ponder quickly, Rice is viewed as essential.

Rice had a breakout season with Brett Favre in 2009 but was sidelined for much of last season following hip surgery. It’s that health issue that teams will take a close look at in free agency. Obviously, the Vikings feel they have a good handle on his medical situation.

“I talked to him in that brief window we had with that draft weekend and he was enthusiastic about maybe signing back with the Vikings," coach Leslie Frazier said, according to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But he still wants to explore opportunities and you can’t begrudge him for that being a free agent. We’ll just have to kind of wait and see what happens. Obviously, we’d love to have him back in Minnesota.”

The Vikings met with Rice’s agent Drew Rosenhaus at the Scouting Combine in February, but Rice wasn’t going to do a deal then because he wants to test the market. It could be the iffy quarterback situation is one reason he will want to depart. We’ll see.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune