Will the Real Ray Rice Please Speak Up?

Sorry about the headline everyone, I couldn’t help myself. Last week I posted a story about how the contract-extension talks between impending free agent, Ray Rice, and the Baltimore Ravens, are at a stand still. While this news might not have been shocking or even upsetting to Ravens fans, the plot, as they say, has thickened.

The reason that little piece of news wasn’t worrying was because it has been widely reported for weeks that the Ravens would most likely place the franchise tag on Rice, and that Rice would sign it without question and both sides would move on while a long-term contract was drawn up.

Last week I shared the news from ProFootballTalk.com that the Ravens and Rice weren’t making progress, but now it seems that no contract talks whatsoever have taken place between the team and the star running back. A newer snippet of news has now surfaced that may put a knot in some Ravens’ fan’s stomachs. Per NFL.com:

"A league source told ProFootballTalk.com the two sides haven't made any progress in talks. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora took that one step further Thursday, reporting via league sources that there haven't been any real talks between the player and team. League sources told La Canfora that Rice will be unhappy and won't rush to sign the franchise tag if the Ravens opt to use it without negotiating a potential long-term deal first."

It’s the second half of that quote that might make some un-easy about Rice’s future in Baltimore. I’m not quick to set myself on fire and jump out my window just yet though. Rice himself has said in the past that the franchise tag is an option that he understands and would work with even though it’s not the long-term solution both the team and Rice would like at this time.

(After the "Jump", see what Rice said about the franchise tag, watch me get in trouble for calling out a well-respected NFL analyst, and hear my plea to the Ravens’ running back.)

In today’s NFL, news and rumors fly free almost daily. In some cases, particular aspects of the league such as injuries, trades, and contracts can be more secretive than the blueprints to the White House. While I respect a person’s right to remain anonymous, in cases such as the controversy surrounding Ray Rice’s contract status, I wish that La Canfora would have revealed his source that stated that Rice would be unhappy with the franchise tag.

Yes, I’m probably making a fuss out of something that’s really nothing, but the issue I take with what La Canfora is reporting is that it is somewhat contradictory to what Rice himself has said about receiving the franchise tag. In January, Rice said the following during an interview after the Ravens’ loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game:

"If the franchise tag happens, you know, it happens. But, obviously I think the fans in Baltimore would rather know that I’m going to be here long term rather than guaranteeing me one year. And, it’s something that I want, my family would want, and it’d just put the situation at ease for a little bit. But, I mean, the franchise tag, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It’d definitely be a lot more than I ever had."

The full interview can be seen: here.

To me, it doesn’t sound like Rice would be terribly irate about receiving the franchise tag and it’s understandable that he would be at least a little upset about heading into next season without a long-term solution in place. And this is what I take issue with according to La Canfora’s reports: he seems to indicate that Rice would be upset enough that he could hold-out, or even test free agency. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish that La Canfora could prove and back-up his claim that Rice would be unhappy and not rush to sign the franchise tag by revealing his source.

So, will the real Ray Rice please speak up and put this matter to bed? All of Baltimore is waiting, and wants you to get paid just as much as you want to.

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