Well, it happened … Simeon Rice is a Bronco.
After two days of speculation, the Broncos agreed to terms with the former Buccaneers and Cardinals defensive end. Terms were not disclosed.
In a league where nostalgia is what you had for breakfast, as Harlan Ellison would say, it’s easy for Simeon Rice’s relatively recent accomplishments to be dismissed; after a two-sack, injury-ruined season in 2006, his previous success might as well have been in the Cenozoic Era in the eyes of some.
But even with shoulder injuries limiting him to just eight games and 0.25 sacks per game in ’06, Rice’s best days are closer than they might appear in the rear-view mirror.
Not only does Rice have more sacks than any active player not named Michael Strahan, but he has the third-best sack total in the last five years; his 69.5 sacks since 2001 are one less than Strahan and 5.5 fewer than Miami’s Jason Taylor.
He is also 20 months removed from a 14-sack season; until ’06, his sack totals were 15.5, 15, 12 and 14 in the ’02, ’03, ’04 and ’05 campaigns, respectively. He has as many double-digit sack totals in the last five seasons as he did in his first six NFL campaigns, and four of his six seasons with 12 or more sacks have come since 2002.
Further, there is only one player with five double-digit sack seasons since 2001. It’s not Taylor; it’s not Strahan; it’s not Dwight Freeney — it’s Rice. Taylor, Strahan, Freeney, Leonard Little, Julius Peppers and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila each have four double-digit sack campaigns since ’01, but only Rice has a quintet.
Until last year, Rice’s career stood as evidence of a player who was seeming to blossom with age, rather than decline.
The spectre of injury, of course, alters perception. Just like it did on John Lynch in March 2004 after the Bucs released him. But the Broncos signed the safety, and three Pro Bowls later, one can say the pickup worked out pretty well. If Rice is half as successful at Lynch, then bringing him aboard was worth it.
The other factor for Rice involves the impact he can have upon the defensive line; one can only assume that he’ll teach a trick or two to Jarvis Moss, Tim Crowder and Elvis Dumervil. Even if Rice only plays a single season in Denver — he agreed to a one-year deal — his impact could continue to be felt for years beyond of Crowder, Dumervil and Moss become successful pros.
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