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

February 27, 2012 | Glenn Clark

Ray Rice

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.

Carry on.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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.

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