On Monday, the Ravens returned the favor, agreeing on a five-year, $40 million deal, including $17 million next season (per Yahoo! Sports).
You can't argue with Rice's production over the past few years. He's rushed for at least 1,200 yards and recorded at least 550 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. He's accumulated 29 total touchdowns during that span (24 rushing, five receiving).
The Ravens have made the playoffs every year since Rice was drafted, making it to the AFC Championship Game twice, and that's no coincidence.
The 25-year-old appears to be getting better and better. Last season, he made his second Pro Bowl, rushing for a career-high 1,364 yards and accumulating a career-best 15 total touchdowns. He capped off the regular season with 191 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.
Will Ray Rice live up to his big contract moving forward?
This contract was a must for the Ravens. Rice has become an iconic player for them in Baltimore and a key to their offense. They averaged 27.8 carries per game as a team last season, eighth-most in the NFL. That's not even accounting for Rice's 76 receptions for 704 yards. He's made a similar impact with the Ravens as the multi-talented Matt Forte has for the Chicago Bears.
With this deal, the Ravens have locked up a player in Rice who has not only starred in his past three seasons, but who has been incredibly consistent. He's also started all 48 games for the Ravens since his rookie campaign.
No matter what happens in Baltimore over the next five seasons, the Ravens know they have one rock that can be depended on in the backfield.
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