The Vikings have made it clear they want to re-sign wide receiver Sindey Rice to an extension this offseason, and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said Sunday he sees nothing health-wise that would force the team to reevaluate that stance between now and when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
Appearing on 1500 ESPN Radio, Spielman said the Vikings are not deterred by Rice's surgically-repaired hip.
"I just keep everything internally on where (Rice) is at medically, but I'm sure if we felt any concerns medically, we wouldn't be discussing extensions with him," Spielman said.
The Vikings placed a first-round tender on Rice in March and head coach Leslie Frazier later said the team wanted to hang on to the receiver long-term and believes Rice could be "productive for years to come." But Rice chose not to sign a long-term deal, instead opting to test free agency.
Under the old CBA, which expired in March, Rice is a restricted free agent because he has four years of NFL service. There remains the possibility that Rice will become an unrestricted free agent if a new agreement is reached that reverts to rules that were in place before 2010.
Sunday, Spielman reiterated the team's desire to keep Rice a Viking for years to come.
"We've always talked about Sidney being a very important part of our football team.," Spielman said. "We've always been pretty agressive with they guys that we have drafted that become very good players for us and hopefully that will work out."
Rice had a breakout season in 2009, starting 14 games for the Vikings and making 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. He was limited to six games last season after undergoing hip surgery in August, catching 17 passes, two for scores.
With Brett Favre retiring and Tarvaris Jackson slated for free agency, Spielman touched upon the Vikings' gameplan as they search for their next quarterback. He described this year's quarterback class as "deep," but said he expects his staff to narrow down their interest to just two signal-callers once the draft begins on April 28.
"You have to have a level of patience, because if you pull the trigger on the quarterback position and it's not the right fit, it could set your organization back," Spielman said. "And you have to have a gameplan in place. Well, if we don't get a quarterback -- let's say there's too many players, especially at No. 12, that are too good to pass up that are going to help you win ball games down the road -- you still have the potential of free agency coming into play pretty soon, you still have trades coming pretty soon. So we have a game plan on different avenues of where we can address that position, but, again, we're pretty patient with that quarterback position."