Your Monday Reality Check-Ravens Not Surprisingly Doing Right Thing With Rice

February 27, 2012 | Glenn Clark

Ray Rice

Stop me if you’ve read this one before.

Nestor Aparicio and I spent the last four days at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis for the annual National Football League Scouting Combine. Indy has been a bit of a second home for us over the first two months of 2012. I don’t know I could ever express just how awkward that is. NFL writer Pete Prisco stopped by our set Friday afternoon to record an interview that would air later on “The Reality Check”. We talked about a number of subjects, one being the status of Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice. Let me make sure I state this. I GREATLY respect Pete Prisco as a writer and football mind. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he’s been with CBS for over a decade covering the league and has covered football even longer than that. The following are quotes from Prisco regarding Rice…

“I wouldn’t pay any running back.”
“I’d franchise him…that’s it.”
“You don’t pay running backs.”
“If you’re building your team around a running back you’ve got problems.”

Prisco rightfully pointed out that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl despite finishing 32nd in the league in rushing. He also rightfully pointed out that the Jacksonville Jaguars won just five games despite being home to the league’s top rusher (Maurice Jones-Drew). They’re relevant points, even if he ignores the fact that the Giants upped their rushing average to 116.5 yards per game in the postseason and that the Ravens had the league’s second leading rusher (Rice) and were a Lee Evans drop away from playing those Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Of course the NFL is more of a passing league. We’re all aware. It doesn’t mean running backs aren’t still dressing for games and making an impact every now and then.

I’m not beating up Pete Prisco here. I’m pointing out an opinion about Rice that has been popular both around Charm City and for many throughout football. There are a number of fans and analysts alike who simply don’t think the Ravens should bother giving their free agent running back a long-term extension. Local writers/bloggers/talk show hosts (including even our own Thyrl Nelson) have pointed out that economically the team would probably be better off just having Rice play under the franchise tag each of the next two seasons.

The numbers would work out to the team having to pay the back between $16-17 million combined in his fifth and sixth NFL seasons, and would not involve any sort of signing bonus. The team will certainly have to hand out much more than that should they extend Rice, even if they come in short of the “Adrian Peterson money” his representation is reportedly interested in.

I promise the next part of this column isn’t meant to be any sort of “I told you so” moment. I’m just glad we can stop discussing that ridiculous thought process anymore.

As I chased Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome out of the media room at LucasOil Stadium Friday afternoon, we had this exact exchange.

“As far as Ray Rice is concerned, it’s definitely the thought process to get an extension done-is it not any thought to franchise him for a year and go from there?” I asked.

He responded “No. We have used the franchise tag only so that we can get a long term deal. We would like for Ray Rice to have a long career in Baltimore. If we have to franchise him, that would be the reason why.”

Nothing wishy-washy there. No posturing at all. That’s about as straight of shooting as a General Manager can possibly offer.

I’m so freaking glad it was Newsome who said it this time so that I don’t have to bother fighting with anyone about it anymore. You DO NOT give the franchise tag to a player if you don’t have interest in keeping him around.

At least…you don’t do that if you’re a competent, well run organization.

(Continue reading on Page 2…)

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Jeremy Says:

    Honestly, teams shouldn’t be allowed to franchise running backs. Their careers are too short to allow teams to just rent them for a year or two without the security of a long term deal and substantial guaranteed money. The guy deserves a contract for playing 4 years for a combined total of $3.9 million dollars. He never asked for a pay raise (cough….Chris Johnson), and is still only 25 years old!

    I can appreciate saving money, but it’s also good to take care of your players.

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Glen you realize that the players agent controls the player? Ray Rice might be reasonable and actually get a long term deal to his own liking. However,the filthy sharks the run the labor side of pro sports want their cut and in turn will ruin a players reputation in a heartbeat. I bet if Ray threw his agent to the curb along with his 15 % he could negotiate a nice 4 year deal with millions up front. This sadly will not happen and the Ravens will franchise him. Ray call Teddy Bruschi for advice you should be able to negotiate for yourself heck you went to Rutgers!

  3. waspman Says:

    Doing “the right thing” has to work both ways. If the franchise tag over two years amounts to $16-17M, Rice should not expect a signing bonus to much greater than that. Coupling the signing bonus with the first year salary would give Rice more than the double franchise tag. In return, the Ravens get a smaller cap number for 2012 if the bonus is spread over four or five years.

    The Guthrie situation was/is totally different. The Orioles are not bound by a salary cap. Their decision was about leverage–Peter Angelos’s calling card. The Rice situation has implications throughout the roster because of the cap. Indeed, Flacco’s contract, although seemingly less imminent in needing to get done, is more important because of the size and scope of it.

    I’m not all that certain Prisco and Newsome are really saying anything that is all that much different. The double franchise tag is guaranteed money in two stages. A “long term” deal will likely have a similar amount of guaranteed money that Rice will get at once while the Ravens get some breathing room in immediate cap space. If Rice insists on trying to raise the green flag much beyond Prisco’s plan in a long term deal, he may find Newsome’s kind words less soothing than Glenn Clark when he’s carrying the tag.

    (Edit from Glenn: Chris Johnson got $30 million guaranteed. Ray Rice is going to-and should-get more than $17 million guaranteed. This will not be about “what’s the least amount of money we technically have to pay you”? The Ravens just don’t operate that way.)

  4. Cliff Says:

    I think Ray Rice should be paid handsomely for the 3 really good years he has had with the Ravens – BUT – on the other hand ….

    Really good running backs usually have their 3-4 outstanding years; and then they seem to go downhill for a variety of reasons. The only exceptions I can think of were Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith and maybe Franco Harris. There might be 2 or 3 others also.

    So signing a running back after a good 3-4 year run, to a long term lucrative contract is IMHO not a good thing. The only instance that really hurt the Ravens with a running back … was… Priest Holmes. He went to Kansas City and THEN had his 3 outstanding years.

Leave a Reply