Rice Contract- 05/07/2000
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With the first mini-camp out of the way, the 49ers decided it was finally time to attend to one of the biggest matters of the off-season. Wide receiver Jerry Rice. The man who holds every significant receiving record in the NFL, and who quite frankly needs no introduction.

The problem the 49ers and Rice are facing revolves mainly around the salary cap. Rice is set to make roughly five million dollars this season, an amount the 49ers just can't afford if they intend to sign the rookies they drafted. Rice is willing to work something out, but he doesn't want to be disrespected by the organization that he served for about two decades.

In steps Bill Walsh, the man who let go of all time greats, and Hall of Famers, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig. Walsh, commonly referred to as a Genius, can also be referred to as the Terminator. This off-season Walsh will have two big decisions to make, one regarding Rice, the other Steve Young. As the season draws near Walsh seems to be hinting that the two wont be able to retire together the way they had dreamed. Walsh wants Rice for one more year, but when Young's name is drawn into conversation, talk of injury dominates any hint of a decision.

The 49ers finally took that initial step with Rice though; offering him a contract that would reduce his base salary to about 2.5 million plus many incentives. The sticking point however is not the money. It's the time. Rice wants two years, and the 49ers want one.

Granted talks are still in the initial stage, but if this is what prompts the 49ers to let Rice go they are greatly mistaken. Rice is the sole link to the 49ers past. The eighties; and the only player on the team to ever catch a touchdown pass from Joe Montana. Rice is needed around the 49ers, not so much for his game day performances, but for practices where he can teach the young defensive backs everything possible a wide receiver can do. His experience is priceless, and hence the 9ers should give him the two years. Let him retire after this season with a year left on his contract.

It really is that simple. Rice has earned every ounce of respect he receives, and then some. The 49ers need to end the feeling of nobody finishing their careers with the team, and Rice is the man they should do it with. Give Rice the two-year contract, at 2.5 million plus incentives; thereby clearing the room needed to sign the draftees, and lets get on with preparing for the season.
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