Ray Rice did it the right way, the ideal way. In the last year of his contract, the Baltimore Raven’s running back led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068 and led them to the AFC championship game. What could the Ravens do after that, but pay the man?
And so, they did, signing the Pro Bowl player to a five-year deal that will pay him $17 million this season and $8 million next year. The Ravens came right down to the 4 p.m. deadline before hammering out the deal. Had Rice not signed, he would have played the 2012 season under the $7.7 million franchise tag tender.
Rice acknowledged his new status by putting it on Twitter: “Baltimore I’m back well I never left lol #Ravens.”
Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of Rice’s four seasons, twice advancing to the AFC title game. He earned his second Pro Bowl invite last year.
“This is another example of (owner) Steve Bisciotti’s commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Ray has been an integral part of us earning the playoffs in each of his four seasons. His production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding.
“I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL,” Newsome said. “You’d have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, ‘He’s on our team.’ ”
As Baltimore’s franchise player, Rice would not have been required to report at the start of training camp. The Ravens will hold their first full squad workout July 26, and Rice is expected to attend.
“Interesting to read about some of the deals getting done today. Very happy for Ray Rice.,” Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders tweeted Monday.