In the midst of a difficult season, Ravens running back Ray Rice acknowledged that he'll contemplate retirement when he turns 30 years old.
The 26-year-old three-time Pro Bowl selection has rushed for just 605 yards on 197 carries, averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry during his sixth NFL season.
“It’s always something to think about at the running back position,” Rice said today during a conference call with New England reporters. “I’ll just put it out there. My goal was to make it 10 years in the NFL. Anything after 10, if I can’t do it the way I want to, then it’s something to think about. But, I’m young. I came in the NFL at 21 years old, a young guy. So, I’m still young.
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"I’m only going to be 27 in January. So, there’s a lot of football left to be played. With that being said, I have priorities too. You know I have a young daughter, and you’ve just got to put all that in perspective when you’re going out there week-in and week-out, especially when you get older in your career.”
Rice has played in all but one game this season, sitting out the Houston Texans game during the third week of the season after straining his left hip flexor the previous week against the Cleveland Browns.
It took him a while to recover from the injury and he has just one 100-yard game, a 131-yard rushing performance against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 17.
Rice has caught 49 passes for 263 yards, averaging just 5.4 yards per reception.
In recent weeks, Rice has broken some tackles and eluded a few defenders while averaging 3.9 and 4.7 yards per carry against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions and gained 67 and 56 yards, respectively, in those games.
“I’ve been dealing with injuries this year,” Rice said. “This has been a different year for me. Everybody plays through different things, and my numbers are what they are, but I’m doing what I can do to help my team. The injury I had this year wasn’t something that you just bounce back from and say, ‘Oh you know I had a hip.' It is definitely very hard to play through week in and week out. So when I look at things like that, statistics, I don’t worry about things [like that]. You know, I’ve proven myself over the years, Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl.
"Right now I’m really focused on this year. You can’t just say, as far as being healthy, I’m healthy enough to go out there on Sundays. That’s what I’m looking forward to. The numbers don’t mean nothing. I’m worried about wins right now. I mean, everything else takes care of itself. At the end of the day, we’ve all got things to be thankful for, so I’m thankful just to be out there and be able to play through this [injury] this year and not have to tank it in.”
Rice made it clear that he prefers to play for the Ravens for his entire career, but knows how uncertain the NFL can be.
Rice has rushed for 6,125 career yards and 37 touchdowns on 1,413 carries, catching 360 passes for 2,976 yards and six touchdowns.
Rice is in the second year of a five-year contract he signed last year that included a $15 million signing bonus.
"I mean, the business side of it, that's the one thing that is not fair to say because we don’t get to choose where we go," Rice said. "We kind of just got to do what we do. Obviously I’ve laid my foundation here in Baltimore. You know it’s a great city and it’s been great to me. But, you know who knows what the future can hold.
"If I can retire a Raven, that would be great. But, it all depends on the running back position too. The wear and tear of a running back, obviously it’s true. So you don’t want to be going out there and tarnishing something that you’re already doing well. I’m doing well, and that’s where it’s at.”