The Cleveland Browns gambled with Ben Tate and so far that gamble has proven to be a bust. While the Browns have rookie running back Terrance West and he is performing excellently so far, they could use a big play running back with experience in run protection for the long haul. Not to mention that a rival AFC North team would love to add a Pro Bowl player from one of it's rivals to help rub it in. While Cleveland probably couldn't handle the backlash, they clearly don't mind a little publicity coming from their players.
The Raiders have made a push to win now and they are currently 0-2 and not all that competitive so far. With the 31st ranked rushing attack that features quarterback Derek Carr as their leading rusher with 57 yards, it is safe to say that they would love to have an experienced running back with plenty left in the tank and the Raiders have never been an organization to turn away troubled players before.
Bill Belichick is probably the one coach that could handle this ordeal just by keeping his mouth shut and keeping it all to football. While the Patriots have Steven Ridley in the main role, they have been one of the many teams to utilize a running back by committee approach in the past. They also have had moments of taking in somewhat troubled but controllable players in the past. With Rice being fairly quiet outside of this incident, the Patriots could get a great player for dirt cheap and extend Tom Brady without breaking the bank.
The worst running attack in the league through two games could definitely use the boost. A magical 45 yards per game average would immediately notice the production of Ray Rice. Both through his pass protection, short passing game efficiency and his running ability; the Jaguars would love his production. The only issue I see here is a young head coach and a franchise that has jettisoned older players in order to start fresh. While Rice is far from old, the Jaguars don't seem to have the same 'win now' attitude most other teams have and I suspect they'd be happy to build through the draft than to pick up a player for a year or two.
Holy crap, Steven Jackson is still in the NFL!? In the bottom half of the league in rushing yardage through two games, but with a high flying passing attack, the Falcons would love to add a dynamic player at a fraction of the cost. Imagine Matt Ryan with the same player chip blocking and catching passes out of the backfield as Joe Flacco had all those years? I bet Ryan is drooling at that thought.
Oh Ryan Matthews, you are one of the more frustrating running backs in the league. Fumbles, injuries, mediocre production... you just have it all, yet you seem to have enough promise for the Chargers to repeat that mistake every year. Now with his MCL tear, Matthews will likely miss most of the year if not the whole thing, leaving the Chargers to lean on Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is a quicker back but lacks the pop and talent that Ray Rice has. If the Chargers could survive the next 4 games with Woodhead leading the charge, adding Rice would give them a fair amount of momentum as they look to enter the postseason.
Realistically, almost any team in the NFL would love to add Ray Rice. He's a dynamic player both as a runner and as a pass catcher. Add in his experience as a pass blockers out of the backfield and any team could find room on their roster for him. The biggest issue comes down to the exposure he would bring as the largest story so far this season and as the catalyst for the NFL looking at it's conduct policy. While I only highlighted teams that really had a need or an overwhelming ability to ignore the backlash or embrace it, the fact is that so much is up in the air right now with every team, that any team could snag him as early as today and it wouldn't surprise me that much.
Fortunately and unfortunately, in the NFL, winning means everything. It means increased ticket sales, increased merchandise, increased sponsorships and attention. It is also a business and because of that, teams can and will overlook things if they feel that it helps their bottom end. While few people will forget about what Rice did, the fact is that the NFL and it's fans have brushed past and continued to brush past other offenders that have done the same or worse simply because they aren't confronted with the brutality of it all. If Rice rushes for 1200 yards and 8TDs in 10 games, the fans and the NFL will be happy to downplay the abuse angle and glorify the man redeemed as he brings his team into the playoffs. In the end, that is all a team will think about when discussing behind closed doors the possible addition of Ray Rice.