This year’s playoff field features (by my count) 7 teams with bell-cow running backs (PIT, CIN, DEN, HOU, BAL, ATL, SF) and 5 with running backs by committee (NE, DET, NO, NYG, GB). The committee teams all have high powered and explosive offenses and most of the public sentiment and expectations going into the postseason. The bell-cow teams are led by Arian Foster (undrafted), Ray Rice (2nd round), Michael Turner (SD castoff), Frank Gore (3rd round), Willis McGahee (BUF & BAL castoff), Cedric Benson (1st round bust & CHI castoff) and injured 1st rounder Rashard Mendenhall will now cede his duties to undrafted Isaac Redman.
All of that spells bad news for running backs looking to get paid, and the perception of Peterson being unavailable to the Vikings for some or all of next season yet set to receive a boatload of money anyway isn’t helping. If this season has taught us anything, it’s that anyone, even Peyton Manning, can become too pricey to be worth the risk associated with paying him.
Ray Rice should and will get paid. Whether or not the Ravens should do it is still a big question though and likely an unpopular debate. The right thing to do from a business perspective would be to franchise Rice and begin looking for his eventual replacement immediately.
This is a tough one for Ozzie Newsome, maybe as tough as any he’s ever had to make. The franchise tag could buy him a year in putting off that decision and looking for other options. Ravens fans would be up in arms for sure were Rice to be allowed to walk. They’d be equally upset though if Rice spent a few Jamal Lewis-like seasons here on the tail end of a preclusive long-term contract or were down for a season with injury and collecting big money.
In Oz we continue to trust…