Ravens and Rice Contract Negotiations At Standstill

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 24: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens hauls in a pass for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on December 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens lead the Browns 17-0 at the half. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

While things may be peachy in Joe Flacco’s household this week on the heels of recent news stating that the Baltimore Ravens and Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, are scheduled to begin contract extension talks in Indianapolis next week, it seems that Ray Rice isn’t so fortunate. According to a story on ProFootballTalk.com, the Ravens and Rice are at a stand-still on the impending free-agent’s contract negotiations.

The two-time All Pro Rice (2009, 2011), is set to become perhaps the most sought after talent in this free-agency class. Unfortunately for potential suitors around the league that may be prepared to throw bundles of cash at Rice, the Ravens aren’t very likely to let arguably their most talented offensive player just stroll out of Baltimore. Through his first four years, the versatile running back has totaled: 4,377 rushing yards with a 4.6 yards- per-carry average, and 24 touchdowns. Rice also has garnered: 2,235 receiving yards with an 8.6 yards-per-catch average, and 5 touchdowns. As the Ravens’ offensive centerpiece, they simply cannot allow Rice to even sniff free-agency.

If the Ravens and Ray Rice are unable to come to an agreement on the numbers and figures, the Ravens will have the ability to place the Franchise Tag on Rice which would net the star running back a salary of about $7.7 million for the 2012 season and keep him in Baltimore. Although it’s not the long term deal that both the Ravens and Rice want to get done, it’s still a hefty pay raise over the estimated $555,000 Rice earned for the 2011 season.

(After the "Jump", see what placing the Franchise Tag on Rice could mean for other Ravens free-agents-to-be)

Unless the Ravens and Rice can come to an agreement, expect the Franchise Tag to be used as a temporary solution to keep Rice as a Raven until a long-term deal can be worked out. Unfortunately, this means that a new deal with impending free-agent left guard, Ben Grubbs, is more than likely not going to occur. Initially it seemed as though the Ravens would be able to use the Franchise Tag on Grubbs after a contract extension was finalized with Rice, but with this recent news the chances that Grubbs remains a Raven seem slimmer than ever.

With Grubbs set to become a free-agent, there will be many teams around the league that will offer him a big-time contract. As one of the most talented offensive lineman in this year’s free-agency class, it is unlikely that the Ravens will be able to offer Grubbs the kind of money that he’ll see on the open market.

Although all of this news may be disappointing to the Ravens faithful, don’t give up on your hopes just yet. The Ravens’ front office is known for being one of the best in the entire NFL, so if there is anyone that could pull off a little magic, it’d be them. Free-agency begins on March 13th and teams can begin placing the Franchise Tag on their players as early as this coming Monday, February 20th, so there is still a little time to work with.

Let’s all hope for the best, and Mr. Ozzie Newsome, if you’re listening, please: "Pay Da Man!"

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