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Ravens to meet with Flacco, Rice's agents

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Ravens are conducting business at the NFL scouting combine beyond evaluating draft prospects. The Ravens are scheduled to meet Saturday afternoon with Joe Linta, the agent for quarterback Joe Flacco.

And Todd France, the agent for Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, told the Times that he's also meeting with team officials this week. They'll be talking with Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice president of football administration and point man for the AFC North franchise in contract negotiations.

Flacco is under contract through next season, but the Ravens and his representatives are both highly motivated to lock up his services on a long-term basis.

Flacco is due a $6.76 million base salary in 2012 after triggering an escalator clause in his original rookie contract. "We'll see how it goes," Flacco said when the season ended. "If it goes, it goes. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

Flacco has a 44-20 record as a starter in the regular season, winning five playoff games since being drafted in the first round out of Delaware. He's been to the AFC championship game twice, losing both times. He came within a dropped Lee Evans touchdown pass of making it to the Super Bowl, losing in the AFC title game to the New England Patriots.

Flacco passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns in that game, outplaying Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. For his career, he's the Ravens' all-time leading passer with 13,816 yards and 80 touchdowns for an 86.0 quarterback rating.

"With Joe, we're just going to sit down and start grinding out a contract and terms," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said during a season-ending press conference. "I think he's going to be extremely successful, I think he's going to have rings. He's got 10 years of his prime to show it. I think that he will be rewarded for his personality in the long run, and I think our fans will, too. We're going to stay the course. We believe in him. We believe he is getting stronger mentally and smarter with the ball."

Rice is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. If the Ravens are unable to come to terms with him on a new contract, they'll hold onto him by designating him as their franchise player at a cost of $7.7 million. At this point, using the tag is regarded as a foregone conclusion.

Rice led the NFL last season with 2,068 total yards from scrimmage, rushing for a career-high 1,364 yards and a dozen touchdowns while catching 76 passes for 704 yards and three touchdowns.

"Yeah, I definitely prefer long-term over franchise tag," Rice said. "I'm not going to complain about the franchise tag, either. It puts yourself in a position where you play that year out and guys have done it, but I prefer the long-term. That's what Baltimore, the city, the fans, they would love to know that Ray Rice is going to be here, not just one year, but for many years to come."

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