The Ravens just signed Ray Rice to a multiyear deal.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) July 16, 2012
ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported details of Rice's new contract:
Ray Rice signed a five-year, $40 million contract that includes $17 million in year one and $25 million in the first two years.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 16, 2012
Baltimore placed the franchise tag on Rice back in March. The team's most dynamic offensive weapon had been angling for an extended contract the entire time, however. The tag only amounts to a one-year deal.
Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season with a total of 2,068. He also scored 15 touchdowns. Even though the diminutive powerhouse racked up a total of 367 touches, he showed no signs of wearing down.
The fact of the matter is the Ravens offense revolves around Rice. He's undoubtedly one of the most complete backs in the league. Most importantly, he takes a lot of pressure off quarterback Joe Flacco, who isn't ready to carry an offense on his back.
It was unclear prior to the new deal what Rice planned to do if they didn't come to terms, but locking him up will keep him happy. Without Rice, the Ravens' backfield situation would have been a major issue heading into next season.
Behind him on the depth chart are Bernard Pierce and Anthony Allen. Both are inexperienced players who are unprepared to fill Rice's shoes, even working as a tandem. Making sure Rice remained in the plans was key to Baltimore's title hopes moving forward.
The Ravens defense has been one of the NFL's elite units for a decade. The offense has always lagged behind, but at least Rice gives them one game-changing weapon to build on.
It's a deal that should work out well for both sides. The Ravens get to keep Rice for what should be his peak seasons, and he gets the lucrative contract he deserves after three consecutive impressive campaigns.
Running backs have limited careers because of all the wear and tear they accumulate every season. Rice is built like a truck, but even he will start to break down eventually. At least he was able to secure some financial security before that happens.
All told, everybody involved should be pleased this issue is behind them. The Ravens can start preparing for next season, as they once again figure to be a strong contender in the AFC.
Rice will play a gigantic role in a journey toward the Super Bowl and will now have the paycheck to prove it.