OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice's $40 million contract ranks atop the NFL running back charts when it comes to how much cash will be paid out during the first 12 months of the deal.
Between his $15 million signing bonus and $2 million base salary this season and a $7 million option bonus due next March and fully paid out by July, Rice is due to make $24 million in the first 12 months of the deal.
That's the highest 12-month cash payout for a running back in NFL history.
That figure ranks Rice ahead of the first-year cash payouts for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson ($17 million), Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams ($15.5 million), Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson ($13 million), Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte ($11.8 million), Houston Texans running back Arian Foster ($11.75 million), Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch ($10 million) and Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy's $9.115 million.
Rice will make $25 million in the first two years of the deal, which includes a $5 million escalator clause.
The Bears signed franchise running back Matt Forte to a four-year, $31.4 million deal hours before Rice struck his deal. And Rice's contract significantly trumped Forte's, including the Bears runner's two-year total of $16.1 million.
Forte will make $22.7 million over three years whereas Rice will earn $29 million during that span.
Forte has $2.4 million of his total attached to him being on the 46-man active roster. Rice's deal doesn't hinge on any per game roster bonuses.
Rice's newly-minted contract falls below recent running back deals for Foster (five years, $43.5 million, $20.8 million guaranteed, $12.5 million signing bonus), McCoy (six years, $45.6 million, $20.8 million guaranteed, $8.5 million signing bonus), Johnson (six years, $58 million, $30 million guaranteed, $10 million signing bonus) and Peterson (seven years, $100 million, $36 million guaranteed, $12 million signing bonus) in terms of total money.
However, Rice's signing bonus exceeded all of those players' back-loaded deals. He also got more guaranteed money than Foster and McCoy.
His two-year total of $25 million is also superior to Foster ($23.75 million), McCoy ($12.36 million) and Johnson ($21 million).
Only Peterson's $28.5 million over the first two years exceeded Rice's first-year and second-year compensation.
The deal includes a $5 million escalator clause with a three-year average of $9.66 million and a four-year average of $8 million.
In regards to overall professional athlete compensation, Rice would rank 17th on Sports Illustrated's Fortunate 50, above NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and just below NBA players Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade.
Rice would also rank in the top 40 of Forbes' highest paid athletes in the world above New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The deal includes the following base salaries of $2 million in 2012 ($5 million salary-cap figure), $1 million in 2013 ($5.75 million salary-cap figure), $4 million in 2014 ($8.75 million salary-cap figure), $3 million in 2015 ($7.75 million salary-cap figure) and $3 million in 2016 ($7.75 million salary-cap figure).
Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.