Late For Work 3/6: Foster Deal Impacts Rice Negotiations

Recent cuts put more pressure to keep Webb. Should Ravens pursue Peyton Hillis?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 9:00 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Foster Deal Impacts Rice Negotiations

Ray Rice’s potential salary parameters just became clearer.

Days after the Ravens placed the $7.7 million franchise tag on Rice and committed to continue long-term contract negotiations, Houston’s Arian Foster and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch signed new deals, helping set the market for free-agent running backs.

Foster’s contract should make Rice “happy,” says’s John Eisenberg, because even though the total salary figure wasn’t as much as Vikings’ Adrian Peterson’s, the contract was heavily front-loaded.

Foster will reportedly receive $30 million in payments the first three years and $18 million in Year 1.

“That’s a whole lot up front,” wrote Eisenberg.

“If I’m Rice, I’m calling my agent, Todd France, and saying: ‘Eighteen mil next year? That sounds pretty good.’”

To put that figure in perspective, if the Ravens were to franchise Rice in back-to-back years, it would cost about $17 million.

Before Foster and Lynch’s contracts were complete, the only other recent comparables were Peterson and the Titans’ Chris Johnson. Now the Ravens and Rice’s agent have more to talk about.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes France will argue his client deserves a contract closer to the high end of the market set by Peterson and Johnson. Meanwhile, the Ravens will likely argue something closer to what Lynch and Foster received.

Rice could ultimately fall somewhere in the middle, which Eisenberg calls “a bit less frightening” than the Peterson total.

Top Tier

Adrian Peterson: 7 years, $100 million, $36 million guaranteed
Chris Johnson: 6 years, $55.2 million, $30 million guaranteed

Ray Rice: ????

Second Tier

Arian Foster: 5 years, $43.5 million, $20.75 million guaranteed
Marshawn Lynch: 4 years, $32 million, $18 million guaranteed

Foster rushed for 2,840 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, over the last two seasons (sitting out three games due to injury). Rice put up similar numbers during the same time frame, rushing for 2,584 yards, averaging 4.3 yards a carry.

“Rice is every bit as valuable and productive as Foster,” wrote Eisenberg. “He should get a comparable deal to Foster’s, and he’s a notch above Lynch.”

The two sides have until July 16 to reach a deal. Otherwise, Rice will have to play under the tag all season.

Florio: More Pressure To Keep Webb

With the Ravens officially parting ways with veteran cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr, the spotlight shines brighter on Lardarius Webb.

Webb, set to become a restricted free agent March 15, is now the leader of the Ravens’ young cornerbacks group and protecting him from potential suitors is critical, says Mike Florio.

“[Releasing Foxworth] makes it even more important for the Ravens to find a way to keep cornerback Lardarius Webb, who could draw significant interest as a restricted free agent,” wrote the scribe. 

“The Ravens are expected to use a first-round RFA tender on Webb, but given his performance in the 2011 postseason, a team like the Patriots should be more than willing to give up a first-round draft pick to get him.”

Should Ravens Pursue Peyton Hillis?

Second-year running back Anthony Allen has “every opportunity” to fill the void left by Ricky Williams’ sudden retirement, but the Ravens could also opt to bring in more competition.

Eisenberg says it’s worth contemplating a familiar foe: Peyton Hillis.

The columnist admits pursuing HIllis is an idea that’s “outside the box,” but the Cleveland Browns opted not to place the franchise tag on him, making him an available option. And a disappointing 2011 season and “some curious behavior off the field” could make him affordable.

“The Ravens have enough cap issues that they probably wouldn’t offer more than $2 million a year for two years – roughly what they paid Ricky – but it’s not impossible that enough teams would be scared off by Hillis’ antics that common ground could be found,” wrote Eisenberg.

“Hillis, 26, certainly would give the Ravens an effective weapon behind Rice, fitting right into their power running game.”

At a young age with plenty of potential, Hillis may not want to accept a backup role and a smaller contract that would come with it. But Eisenberg argues that it could be appealing to play for a winning team.

“That might sway him. And the money wouldn’t exactly be paltry,” he wrote. “A year or two of quietly producing on a winner could set him up for a big payday. …

“The odds of it happening are long, but the upside would be considerable. If the Ravens really are intent on putting a better offense on the field, they could do worse than adding Hillis to their mix.”

Quick Hits

  • Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti sent Loyola University Basketball Head Coach Jimmy Patsos a text message prior to their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournament semifinal Sunday, encouraging him to “Make sure you finish this thing off.” Finish they did. Last night the Greyhounds clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the MAAC championship game for only the second time ever in school history. []
  • AdamSchefter: Here’s what happens when price of franchise tags drops: 21 players get franchise tags, seven more than any other year in NFL free agency. [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: Big winners by not getting franchised: Mario Williams C. Finnegan P. Garcon M. Flynn V. Jackson Red Bryant M. Colston J. Mincey J. Abraham [Twitter]
  • RavensInder: As many as nine to 10 teams could get involved in the sweepstakes for wide receiver Vincent Jackson, according to Wilson. Will the Ravens be one of them? [Twitter]
  • ProFootballTalk: Steve Young thinks players who were injured should sue the Saints [Twitter]
  • @molly_gellatin @Ravens player and St Paul good guy Matt Birk taking BP this afternoon in Ft Myers #Twins #Springtraining [Twitter]


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