Courtesy of the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated last summer by the owners and NFLPA, the Ravens would of course have the right to simply pay Rice the lesser amount of money for the next two seasons and then part ways knowing that after six seasons the back would be unlikely to terrorize them very long anywhere he went.
It would absolutely be an option. Similarly, the Baltimore Orioles had the option to cut P Jeremy Guthrie’s salary in 2009 after their #1 starter posted back to back sub-4 ERA seasons.
One organization exercised their option. The other is stating publicly that they absolutely will not do the same thing. It’s not particularly surprising which organization made which decision.
I’m not really trying to make this an “Orioles are awful, Ravens are great” column either, although both are statements of fact. It’s about an organization doing everything the right way instead of preaching the significance of “this is a business.”
The Ravens know a few things. 1-Ray Rice has done everything the right way since being selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft. 2-Both Rice and the team have performed at an incredibly high level since the former Rutgers star showed up in Owings Mills. 3-Rice has never had health issues and plays the game in a way that isn’t quite as dangerous as other backs.
And then there’s number four-the most important of everything the Ravens know right now.
4-The team wants to win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. And Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. And Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.
That’s the most important fact to be garnered from how the Ravens approach their negotiations with their Pro Bowl back. They want to put themselves in the absolute best spot to win the Super Bowl every year.
The team will almost certainly end up giving Rice the franchise tag in the next few weeks, as it appears unlikely negotiations will be complete before free agency opens. The team will then work with agent Todd France to get the deal done. It might not happen before the start of Training Camp, but enough progress should be made that Rice reports to 1 Winning Drive with the sole focus of helping his team win the Super Bowl.
If the team chose to go the more economical route, they would franchise Rice without progress on a contract and risk the back pulling a “Chris Johnson” over the course of the next few months. The Tennessee Titans back became a significant distraction to the team, negatively affecting himself in the process. He eventually got his own long-term deal, but not before irreparable damage was done to both parties. Even if Rice was able to stomach the tag next season and make a positive contribution to the team next season, the team would be forced to make a decision about a back for the future after that, potentially hurting their chances of winning the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014.
The words “vicious cycle” come to mind.
The right thing for both the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Rice is to get a contract done this offseason. For that reason, they’re on the clock with the extension being the only acceptable outcome.
It’s the right thing…being done by the Baltimore Ravens…because they badly want to win.
Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…