Could Sidney Rice shut it down in search for contract?

The great mystery surrounding Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice continues to unravel.

The Vikings have one week to promote the veteran from the physically unable to perform list or place him on injured reserve. Coach Brad Childress essentially left it up to Rice last week to determine if he would be ready to play at Chicago. Rice, who practiced hard during the week, opted to sit out despite widespread speculation he would make his debut after sitting out the first half of the season following hip surgery in the summer that easily could have been done in the spring.

It’s a frustrating situation for the Vikings, and it’s no less clear whether or not he will be elevated in time to play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. There is some strategy involved for Rice, who is in a contract year after exploding last season with Brett Favre. He’d like to get paid and nothing would hurt his value more than going out there and being a shell of the performer he was last season. Nothing is hurting the Vikings more than playing without him. That’s why they pursued Vincent Jackson. That’s why they did a rent-a-receiver with Randy Moss. They need Rice on the field.

According to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the man with the plan behind the scenes is agent Drew Rosenhaus. Per the report, if the Vikings lose to the Packers Sunday and drop to 3-7, Rice could feel there is no upside in him returning this season to play for a losing team. It might not be worth the risk to him. But he’s had just one big season and the league has seen what one-hit wonders are like at the position.

Maybe Rice wants to gamble on his 2009 stats at the bargaining table. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise. But it sure wouldn’t treat the Vikings right, not after Rice pushed off surgery far too long.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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