Jerry Rice reaches deal with Broncos
DENVER – Jerry Rice agreed to a one-year deal with Denver on Wednesday and will attempt to finish his career as a backup for the Broncos.The NFL’s all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns will be reunited with coach Mike Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in San Francisco from 1992-94.”Mike is a coach who will manage him better than anyone else in the league. Mike views him better than anyone else would. It all just works,” said Rice’s agent, Jim Steiner.Details weren’t disclosed by the team, but Steiner said the contract was for one year – and that Rice has no plans to play beyond the 2005-06 season.Last week, Shanahan said the 42-year-old receiver wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot on the roster, meaning he will likely play behind Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts.”I told Jerry that I don’t know if he’s lost a step or two steps, but you’re going to come here for one reason and that’s to compete with the other guys,” Shanahan said. “And if you’re one of our top five guys at the end of camp, then you’re going to be on our football team. If you’re not, I said I’d have one of the toughest jobs in the world.”Playing time has been an issue for Rice, who left Oakland in part because he felt he wasn’t being used enough. Steiner said Rice knows he has to earn a roster spot.”He knows that at this point in his career he can’t fight the politics of age,” he said.”What motivates him is, he loves the game, loves being around the guys. He has a passion for playing football, it’s what he does and it’s who he is,” Steiner said. “The more people say he shouldn’t do it, that becomes a personal challenge.”Rice was the third receiver taken in the 1985 draft behind Eddie Brown and Al Toon. He was the 16th pick, with the 49ers trading up to select him after he set several NCAA records at Division I-AA Mississippi Valley State.Rice is the NFL’s career leader in receptions with 1,549; total yards with 22,895; and touchdowns receiving with 197, all far ahead of anyone else. He also leads in total touchdowns with 207, 32 more than Emmitt Smith. He won three Super Bowls with the 49ers and was the Super Bowl MVP in 1989.Rice is hoping for a 20th NFL season after seeing his production slide in recent years.He was released by San Francisco after the 2000 season and signed with the Raiders. In 2002, Rice had 92 catches for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns in helping Oakland reach the Super Bowl.But Rice started being phased out of the Raiders’ offense the next year, catching 63 passes and two TDs. He was traded to Seattle and ended last season with 30 catches for 429 yards, the lowest totals of his career except for an injury-plagued season in 1997.
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