Rice: 'I'm not going to rush into anything'

Updated: February 28, 2005, 12:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Has Jerry Rice's playing career reached the ultimate end zone?

On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks released Rice. But the NFL's all-time leading receiver told ESPN Radio that he believes he will play a 21st pro season, even though "I'm pretty much at peace if it doesn't happen."

Rice, who requested his release from the Seahawks, was a guest on "The SportsBash with Erik Kuselias" on ESPN Radio.

"I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. It didn't turn into what I wanted at the end," said Rice, who will be 43 in October. "Right now, I'm going to take some time off and not rush into my decision what I'm going to do next year, whether I'm going to play football or something else."

Jerry Rice
Rice

"We are grateful to Jerry and the role he was willing to fill for the Seahawks last year," coach Mike Holmgren said in a statement released by the team."He is one of the greatest players in the history of our game and we wish him nothing but the best."

Rice split last season with the Seahawks and Oakland Raiders, who traded Rice to the Seahawks at midseason. In 11 games with the Seahawks, he had 25 catches for 362 yards and three touchdowns.

"I talked to my agent (Jim Steiner) about a week ago and told him I'm starting to get that itch again," Rice told ESPN Radio. "I still have a lot in my tank. I can still play if a team will give me that opportunity. There's a good chance that I will be back in uniform next year. I may not. I'm not going to rush into anything.

"I'm pretty much at peace if it doesn't happen.… I still want to play but I really don't want to bounce around. Right now, I really don't know. There's a question mark out there."

Among his dozens of NFL records, Rice is the career leader in receptions (1,549), reception yardage (22,895) and touchdown catches (197).

He also leads in total touchdowns with 207, 32 more than Emmitt Smith, who announced his retirement earlier this month.

Rice indicated after the Seahawks were eliminated by the St. Louis Rams in the playoffs last month that he still was interested in playing.

"I still feel like I have football left in me, a lot of football in me," he said.

However, it remains to be seen whether there is a team who might be interested in signing the legend, who began his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985 and was on three Super Bowl winners with the 49ers, winning the Super Bowl MVP in 1989.

Rice's possible return to the franchise has been a hot topic in the Bay Area, but new 49ers coach Mike Nolan has mostly discouraged such speculation. Earlier this week, Nolan acknowledged the club had discussed signing Rice so he could retire with San Francisco, but Nolan doesn't believe Rice would be able to play regularly with the Niners.

"It's my understanding in our discussions that Jerry still wants to test the market and see if someone is interested in having him on the team as a full-time participant," Nolan said Tuesday.

"If he wants to retire (with the 49ers), that is certainly something that we would be very open to, but it's my understanding that those aren't his desires."

He was traded to the Raiders after the 2000 season and dealt to Seattle at the trading deadline. Last season, Rice had 30 catches for 429 yards, by far the lowest totals of his 20-year career other than in 1997, when he missed most of the season with a knee injury. His three touchdown receptions last season and two in 2003 were the lowest of his career for any full season other than his rookie year, when he also had three.

Among the other records he holds is receptions in 274 straight games, a streak that ended last season while he was still with the Raiders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.