OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens made it official Friday, designating running back Ray Rice as their franchise player.
The Ravens also cut cornerback Chris Carr and wide receiver Lee Evans and placed running back Ricky Williams on the reserve-retired list.
It comes at a cost of $7.7 million, but the Ravens still hope to sign Rice to a long-term deal.
"As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We've done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago."
As for cutting Carr and Evans, Newsome said: "Each year, we have to make tough, difficult decisions to manage our roster. Chris Carr and Lee Evans were valuable Ravens, and both helped us get to the AFC Championship game and the brink of the Super Bowl last season with the way they played and the maturity they added to the locker room. Chris was instrumental in helping us earn the playoffs the last three seasons. As we talked about when we informed Chris and Lee of these moves, this does not close the door on them coming back to the Ravens."
'We obviously were well aware the tag was coming today. We're going to continue to have an open dialogue and an amicable negotiation process with the Ravens in an effort to lock Ray up to a long-term contract that compensates Ray relative to his outstanding production.'Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season, leading the Ravens in receptions. He led the NFL with 2,068 total yards from scrimmage and set a Ravens record with 16 touchdowns.
Carr bid goodbye to the Baltimore Ravens after being informed of his pending release by Newsome and coach John Harbaugh.
Carr was due a $2.5 million base salary and carried a $3.45 million salary-cap figure for next season.
"My time in Baltimore has been tremendous to say the least, I will always think back to my days here with a deep appreciation," Carr wrote in an e-mail to the Times. "I completely agree with the decision, I think it was good business for the both of us, and I was not surprised at all. After the season ended I knew I would be traded or released, and frankly that is what I wanted as well. I felt that I needed a fresh start. My injuries along with younger guys playing well, I felt it would be unfair to keep four guys who have proven they can start in the league."
Carr signed a three-year, $14 million contract last year that included a $3.8 million signing bonus.
He was due base salaries of $3 million and $4 million in 2013 and 2014.
"Plus with my salary being too high to be a potential backup," Carr wrote. "It was an ambivalent feeling because I love it here, but good things always come to an end so you just have to embrace it, be thankful, and move on. My meeting with John and Ozzie went well, we thanked each other for everything. I plan on playing some more, and I have no expectations going into free agency."
Carr dealt with hamstring and back injuries that limited him to nine games last season after starting every game the previous year.
His production dipped from 67 tackles, two interceptions, eight pass deflections and three forced fumbles in 2010.
Last season, he started one game and recorded 19 tackles, one sack, three pass deflections and no interceptions.
The AFC North champions also plan to part ways with wide receiver Lee Evans and cornerback Domonique Foxworth.
It may take a few days for the Ravens to determine Foxworth's roster status because of his health.
Foxworth met with general manager Newsome on Thursday and will take a physical on a surgically-repaired knee in a few days. A member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, Foxworth could also opt to retire and concentrate on his career in the union leadership.
Under his $27 million contract, Foxworth is due a $5.6 million base salary and an $8.6 million salary-cap figure for next season.
His release isn't regarded as imminent, but is expected before free agency begins March 13.
Evans dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass in the AFC championship game against the New England Patriots.
He's due a $3.275 million base salary and carries a $5.607 million salary-cap figure. And a $1 million roster bonus is due March 18 if he's still on the team.
He caught only four passes for 74 yards and no touchdowns during the regular season after being acquired via a trade from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.