How close to the deadline was it that the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Rice reached an agreement, The Baltimore Sun, and the Ravens web site did not have the story as of 4:10, but was there ever really any doubt that General Manager Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens and Ray Rice would hammer this thing out?
Ummm, yes I must say there was on my part, but not Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, who said there will be good news by the 4 p.m. franchise deadline. One of running back Ray Rice’s closest friends on the team, Leach hit Twitter to break the news.
It came after ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “Would be an upset if the Ravens and their franchise player Ray Rice were able to strike a long-term deal by today’s 4 ET deadline.”
There’s about half-an-hour until the deadline. Last year, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata’s deal after he was franchised came down to the wire.
The Ravens and Rice reached a deal as did the Chicago Bears and running back Matt Forte today. According to ESPN, the Ravens and franchised running back Ray Rice have agreed to terms on a five-year, $40 million contract, only minutes before Monday’s deadline, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The deal will pay Rice $17 million in the first year and $25 million in the first two years, the sources said.
The Ravens had placed their franchise tag on Rice in March and the sides had until 4 p.m. ET on Monday to reach an agreement. Without a long-term deal, Rice would have had to play the 2012 season under the $7.749 million tender or sit out the season.
Rice’s contract expired after a season in which he amassed an NFL-best 2,068 yards from scrimmage and helped the Ravens advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Last September, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata traded his franchise tag for a five-year, $61 million contract. Rice wanted to follow a similar path.
Soon after Baltimore’s loss to New England in the AFC title game, Rice said, “I’m not going to complain about the franchise tag, but I prefer the long-term. That’s what Baltimore, the city, the fans, would love to know — that Ray Rice is going to be here, not just one year, but for many years to come.”
Rice scored a franchise-record 15 touchdowns in 2011 to go with a career-best 1,364 yards rushing. He also led Baltimore with 76 catches (for 704 yards).
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes. “The five-year deal for the 25-year-old is for $40 million and reportedly includes $25 million over the first two years”.
The signing continues the Ravens’ trend of reaching long-term agreements with designated “franchise” players. The Ravens did it last year with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata just hours before the deadline and the tag has also served as a precursor for past deals with Terrell Suggs and Chris McAlister, among others.
The Sun report goes on to say, Rices’ deal eliminates any uncertainty for the rest of the offseason involving Rice, who didn’t participate in any minicamps and said recently that he missed the camaraderie of being around his teammates this offseason.
The 2011 season was clearly his finest as he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with a career-high 2,068 yards. He was the only player in the league to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. He also accumulated a career-high 1,364 rushing yards, second in the NFL behind the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew, and led the Ravens with 76 receptions for a career-high 704 yards.
His 15 touchdowns – 12 rushing, three receiving and one touchdown pass – set a franchise record. He joined Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history to register at least 1,200 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards in multiple seasons.
information from espn and the AP contributed to this report. Sources highlighted for proof: