Although Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice indicated Tuesday in New York during the unveiling of the new NFL Nike uniforms that he looks forward to attending offseason workouts, he's not expected to report until he's signed to a new contract.
Rice has been designated as the Ravens' franchise player, at a cost of $7.742 million. Under NFL rules governing franchise players, Rice doesn't have to attend offseason activities, training camp or games until he signs his one-year tender.
No deal is imminent at this time.
"I look forward to being there," Rice told the Ravens' official website when asked whether he'll attend offseason workouts.
Rice has been consistent in taking the high road when it comes to the negotiations, but the versatile star runner has no plans to attend offseason workouts until a contract has been finalized.
"I think progress is being made, but I know things don't happen overnight," Rice said. "If they want to get a deal done, we'll get a deal done."
The Ravens have a history of hammering out contract extensions with previous franchise players, including defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Chris McAlister.
The Ravens have until July 15 to get a long-term deal done for Rice. Otherwise, he'll play under the franchise tag this season.
It's been rumored that Rice wants to be paid in the neighborhood of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, the highest-paid back in the league. Peterson is playing under a landmark seven-year, $100 million contract that includes $36 million in guaranteed money signed last year.
A more recent blockbuster running back deal is Houston Texans runner Arian Foster signing a five-year, $43.5 million contract that includes $20.75 million in guaranteed money.
When asked about the Peterson contract demand rumor last month, Rice's agent, Todd France, told the Times: "Maybe it's because people assume since Ray has led the NFL in yards from scrimmage since becoming a full-time starter in 2009 that he should be the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Regardless of where it came from or who said what, I won't comment on any specifics of our negotiations except to say my focus is to have an amicable negotiation process that results in a long-term contract for our client."
Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season, setting a franchise single-season record with 15 total touchdowns.
Rice is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who finished last season with a career-high 2,068 yards from scrimmage to lead the NFL.
He also caught 76 passes for 704 yards and three touchdowns.
For his career, Rice has rushed for 4,377 yards and 24 touchdowns while catching 250 passes for 2,235 yards and five touchdowns.
"I do believe it will happen," Rice said when asked if he thinks a new deal will happen. "The tag bought us time to get it all figured out. I love the game of football, but the business side is rough. You don't want to get feelings involved."
A former second-round draft pick from Rutgers, Rice was paid $600,000 in the final year of his rookie deal.
If no long-term deal is reached, he would make $452,941 per game check over the course of 17 weeks during the season.
"When you get a back like Ray Rice, you have to ask yourself, ‘Does he have a second contract in him?' and clearly he does," former Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns general manager Mike Lombardi told the Times. "What I think you have to do is come up with the best contract you can that pays him like one of the top five backs in the league and try to structure a deal that fits right there. I'm sure he wants to be the top paid back.
"I'm sure they'll want to look at Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson's deals and find some middle ground. You've got to keep the blue-chip players like him. He's so versatile and talented. He carries their offense at times. He's more than just a runner. He finishes games."
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