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Late For Work 2/21: King: Rice Wants Adrian Peterson-Type Contract

Adding WR bigger priority than Grubbs, McClain? No strings attached to Kindle.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 9:22 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

King: Rice Wants Adrian Peterson-Type Contract

The franchise tag is on the clock.

And soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Ray Rice seems even more likely to get tagged says Peter King, who is reporting that Rice is seeking an Adrian Peterson-type contract.

The SI.com columnist says the Ravens star running back “might be disappointed” because a seven-year deal worth up to $100 million may be too much for the team to offer. “The Ravens have too many great players to sign to go nuts on him.”

While some consider Rice among the top three or four running backs in the league today, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley says “the Ravens won’t be giving him anything close” to Peterson money.

“I’m not trying to slight Rice because he was the most valuable player in the AFC North last season,” wrote Hensley. “Basically, Rice is really, really good.”

Rice received his second invite to the Pro Bowl after producing a career-high and NFL-best 2,068 yards from scrimmage last season. He ranked second in the league in rushing (1,364 to Maurice Jones-Drew’s 1,606) and he puts points on the board, setting a team record with 15 touchdowns.

The reasoning behind giving Rice a smaller contract than Peterson has less to do with his past performance and more to do with the durability issues at the position. Because of those issues, pundits say the priority lies with investing in quarterback Joe Flacco long-term.

“Running backs have proven to be fungible, prone to injury and susceptible to sudden declines in the quality of their play, and NFL teams that give lucrative long-term deals to running backs often live to regret it,” wrote ProFootballTalk.com’s Michael David Smith.

He cited the ACL tear that ended Peterson’s season after signing the mega deal. Titans’ Chris Johnson recorded career lows in yards, yards per carry and touchdowns last year after holding out and signing his new big contract.

Hensley says it would probably make more sense to franchise Rice twice – worth $17 million – before giving him Peterson money.

“The more realistic deal that Rice should be targeting is the one given to the Titans’ Chris Johnson, who reportedly signed for $53.5 million over four years,” he added.

The framework could be discussed when the Ravens’ brain trust and Rice’s agent, Todd France, meet at the combine later this week.

Even if the two sides don’t see eye-to-eye on Peterson-type money, pundits generally believe a deal will get worked out in the end, as both Rice and the Ravens want to continue playing football together. To buy more time to work out a deal, the Ravens can tag Rice by the March 5 deadline.

“He wants to be here and the Ravens want him here,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “They’ll figure it out.”

“Ray Rice isn’t going anywhere,” added NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.

Adding WR Bigger Priority Than Grubbs, McClain?

General Manager Ozzie Newsome will have to perform a challenging juggling act once the free-agency bell rings this March.

Rice, Flacco, Ben Grubbs, Jameel McClain, Matt Birk, and maybe even Lardarius Webb are a handful of stars Ozzie will have to keep an eye on.

He may have a list of priorities that helps guide his actions this offseason. We know Flacco and Rice are on the top of that list, but fans wonder where adding a new wide receiver falls?

“I believe the Ravens will make adding a wide receiver a bigger priority than Grubbs and McClain,” wrote Hensley. “Grubbs certainly proved his importance when the offensive line struggled during the six games he was sidelined with a toe injury. But his chances of staying with the Ravens was significantly reduced when Baltimore invested a $32.5 million contract in the other starting guard, Marshal Yanda, last season.”

As far as McClain is concerned, Hensley believes the starting linebacker next to Ray Lewis will go elsewhere. The ESPN blogger’s prediction is based on the history of the inside linebackers next to Lewis – like Ed Hartwell and Bart Scott – who were heavily sought after by other teams and given a lot of money to leave Baltimore.

Just as Scott benefited from the attention he received when Lewis’ season ended due to a hamstring injury, Dan Pompei of National Football Post believes McClain’s stock rose after Lewis went down this season for four games with a toe injury.

“Ray Lewis’ toe injury came at a very opportune time for one Ravens teammate,” Pompei wrote. “Jameel McClain, who took over the defense calling and on-field leadership responsibilities from Lewis in his absence for five games, is about to become an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens went [4-0] without Lewis, in part because of McClain’s ability to do some of what Lewis did.”

While Hensley believes McClain will be offered a contract the Ravens won’t be able to match, Pompei could see the Ravens making a move to retain him, “both for his short-term value and his long-term value as a replacement for Lewis after the 36-year-old retires.”

Eisenberg: No Strings Attached To Kindle

As the media focus rests squarely on Rice and Flacco, CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg asks a question that never really seems to go away.

What are the Ravens’ plans with exclusive rights free agent Sergio Kindle, who has shown “virtually nothing” after being drafted in the second round two years ago and then sustaining a head injury while falling down two flights of stairs?

“[Kindle's] options are limited, to put it mildly,” wrote Eisenberg. “He can’t negotiate with other teams. If the Ravens make him an offer at the three-year veteran minimum, he has to take it. His only other option is to quit and hope someone else picks him up. He is called a ‘free’ agent only because he is free to quit.

“Do they cut ties and admit he was a blown pick? Or have they seen enough behind the scenes to continue to let him develop at his own, slow pace, envisioning a player who could eventually add to their pass rush? … Look for them to offer him a minimum contract and the chance to come to training camp and compete for a job, with no strings attached.”

No Guarantee Birk Is Back, Even If He Doesn’t Retire

Matt Birk still hasn’t announced his decision on retirement, and Zrebiec believes that his agent, Joe Linta, and the Ravens will talk about the veteran center this week at the combine since Linta will already be chatting with Ravens brass about his other client, Flacco.

“I don’t believe it is a foregone conclusion that the Ravens bring him back even if Birk decides that he’d prefer to push back retirement another year,” wrote Zrebiec, citing Newsome’s comment at the season-review presser that the team will add another center to the roster for next season.

If Birk and the Ravens don’t reunite, Hensley says there are plenty of quality free-agent centers on the market, but they would probably cost more than the Raven are willing to spend right now.

“I see the Ravens drafting a center and using Andre Gurode as a veteran stopgap,” wrote Hensley.

Quick Hits

  • Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher says his team has the talent to be successful, but is missing a Ray Lewis-type leader to keep the team focused. “When Ray Lewis speaks, everybody listens to him,” Hatcher said. “A guy like that, we really don’t got that. I think we definitely need somebody like that. You’ve got to have somebody hold you accountable. With a leader like (Lewis), everybody is accountable and guys aren’t doing their own thing. (Lewis) is in there. Everybody’s going in one direction. So once you have that, you’ll be good. We’re still looking for it.” [USA Today]
  • Salary cap won’t prevent the Ravens from filling their needs [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Jeff Seidel argues that the Ravens should re-sign veteran defensive end Cory Redding. “A player like Redding is very important to the Ravens,” wrote Seidel. “He’s a veteran who gives the defense a steady presence, something they need since there’s a number of younger players there. Redding is different than some of the other big names on the team. The spotlight doesn’t find him, nor does he want it to. He’ll come in, do his job quietly and move on. That’s why Redding is the kind of person who leads by example — which is good for any team.” [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • The Steelers hired Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley two weeks ago, but he still hasn’t spoken with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “He still hasn’t called yet,” said Roethlisberger, who had “the tone that he has no intention of making the first move.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]
  • Hey Hensley, who do you see starting for the Ravens in 2012 at the linebacking position? “Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger at OLB. Ray Lewis and Vontaze Burfict at ILB.” [ESPN]
  • The Ravens special teams unit was ranked last in the AFC North after a rough season for kicker Billy Cundiff, returner David Reed and the coverage teams. In order to turn that around, Hensley believes the Ravens need to bring in another kicker to compete and improve the coverage units. He suggested Shayne Graham. [ESPN]
  • Mike Florio and Eisenberg chat about the many different free-agent scenarios facing the Ravens. [ProFootballTalk.com]

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