The Ravens and Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice agreed to a five-year, $40 million extension Monday. Here’s what other news outlets are saying about the big deal, which makes Rice one of the NFL’s highest-paid backs.
** Matt Williamson of ESPN’s Scouts Inc. believes the Ravens had no choice but to sign Ray Rice to a new deal:
"The Ravens are not very creative on offense,” he wrote. “In fact, they are one of the easiest offenses to prepare for in the NFL. Baltimore uses very few three or more wide receiver sets, generally preferring run-based offensive personnel, often with a pure blocking fullback. They are predictable in that they are a run-first offense that mixes in screens to Rice, deep passes on the perimeter usually to Torrey Smith off play-action, and out patterns to Anquan Boldin. They rely on execution, speed and physicality rather than deception. Again, in Baltimore’s case, this makes them pretty easy to game plan for and to play against. Without Rice, that execution would be compounded dramatically in a negative manner. Smith and Boldin are decent receivers, but at this point of their careers, they are each rather one-dimensional. … Rice does it all -- and he does it all extremely well."
** Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports says Rice was one of the biggest winners on deadline day -- and Joe Flacco was one of the biggest losers:
"Rice got paid handsomely. The Ravens' running back will make $24 million in guaranteed money, which isn't "AP money" but should be just enough to squeak by on for the rest of your life,” he wrote. “Rice would've landed more money on the open market, but he's also got plenty of miles on his odometer for a guy who's just 25. … Flacco's coming up on his contract year and he's probably itching to prove he deserves a big, brand new extension worth a lot of money. But the Ravens, by signing Rice, took away leverage from Flacco for next offseason. That's because they can use their franchise tag next offseason on Flacco, instead of having to make a choice on their quarterback and running back."
** Joe Platania of PressBox wonders if another team would have tried to acquire Rice had he not signed this deal:
"The Ravens, a team that has struggled to find a consistent and flexible offensive attack for most of its history, have found all the qualities they have ever desired in Rice, a second-round pick from Rutgers in 2008,” he wrote. “That year's 10-man draft class, surprisingly, has just Rice and [Joe] Flacco remaining on the roster today. Theoretically, another team could have signed Rice away from the Ravens, even after the just-expired deadline, but it would have had to forfeit two first-round picks -- one during each of the next two years -- as compensation. But considering what Rice -- a two-time Pro Bowl selectee who has 4,377 career rushing yards, second to Jamal Lewis (7,801) on the team's all-time list -- has done during four short seasons, maybe another franchise would have considered it worth its while."
** The Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Dan Gigler writes about how the Pittsburgh Steelers passed on Rice twice in 2008:
"The Ravens enjoy a 4-3 record over Pittsburgh in regular season games when Rice starts. However, in two postseason games against the Steelers, Rice was held in check almost to be a non-factor. In the 2008 AFC Championship -- his rookie season -- Rice had one carry for two yards and 3 receptions for 43 yards. In the 2010 AFC Divisional game, he had a paltry 32-yards on the ground, though he did score a touchdown,” he wrote. “For what it's worth, the Steelers had not one, but two chances to select Rice in 2008, instead taking Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and Limas Sweed in the second. That's not a jab at Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin. At the time, Mendenhall was very much the more highly rated back, and Sweed was seen as a steal in the second round, plus there were plenty of concerns over Rice's diminutive size."
** Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio looks at some of the ramifications, both positive and negative, of the Rice deal:
"As to the final two years of the deal, the $3 million salary is light. So if he’s still playing at a high level then, he can hold out for more. With at least $29 million earned, he’ll be able to afford the daily training-camp fines,” he wrote. “Most importantly from an internal accounting standpoint, the contract reduces Rice’s cap number in 2012 from $7.7 million to $5 million, creating an extra $2.7 million in much-needed space. Previously, the Ravens had less than $700,000 in wiggle room."
** Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes that top running backs can still get monster paydays in today's NFL.
"Ray Rice and Matt Forte were the obvious winners on a fairly dramatic deadline-day Monday in the NFL, but coming out on the losing end was the theory that running backs don't get monster paydays in today's pass-first, run-only-when-you-have-to version of professional football," he wrote. "Remember? They're all just interchangeable parts anyway. Running back has become a disposable position. Just use one up, then go out and find another. They're not roster cornerstones in this day and age of high-powered, pass-centric offenses. You overpay for one, and you'll rue the day at some point soon. But like a controversial and game-changing call in the fourth quarter, perhaps the notion of just where an elite runner fits into a team's hierarchy needs plenty of further review. After all, you'd be hard-pressed to find two players who mean more to their team's chances to win each week than the indefatigable Rice in Baltimore and the versatile Forte in Chicago."