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Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti feels an urgency to re-sign quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice to long-term contracts.
It’s not because they won’t be in Ravens uniforms next year, because they assuredly will. It’s because he wants more room to play in free agency.
“The quicker we sign them, the quicker we free up salary cap space,” Owner Steve Bisciotti said Monday at the owners meetings. “So there’s an urgency there.”
After signing four free agents on Friday, the Ravens are reportedly up against the salary cap. Bisciotti said they would like the flexibility to sign free agents after more cuts are made, as they have in years past.
“We’ve got to be prepared to create cap room so we are able to take advantage of other people’s forced cuts,” Bisciotti said.
The Ravens and Flacco and Rice’s agents have reportedly been in contact throughout the offseason. Reports are that those meetings have gone well and that they are making progress.
“[Chief negotiator] Pat Moriarty has been doing this for a long time,” Bisciotti said. “It’s his job to get these things done. So if you ask Pat, Pat would say there is an urgency because we’re paying him to get it done.
“I understand he can run into stalemates with agents and that’s just part of the business. I don’t think there is a lack of urgency, but it certainly dilutes the angst that you have that we know they’re going to be on the roster.”
Bisciotti wants to see balance on offense and defense, and said Flacco and Rice are “two of the most important people in the offense.”
There’s long been a debate in the NFL of whether it’s worth it to give running backs long-term contracts because they can have a shorter shelf life. Rice is 25 years old entering his fifth season.
Bisciotti feels that it’s worth paying running backs because it’s a “misnomer” that talented ones can be found anywhere in the draft. He pointed to running backs Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, all former first-round picks.
“We took Ray and we got our money’s worth,” Bisciotti said. “Now it’s time to find a level that he’s happy with and he can live with. And that’s not easy. That’s not easy for any of the positions. I don’t think it makes it harder because it’s the running back position.
“The number Ozzie puts on him, that’s what we want to get him signed for.”
Bisciotti said Flacco called him about six weeks ago, and they talked about proving some critics wrong and his upcoming first child. Bisciotti said Flacco’s “in a good place,” but the two aren’t talking money.
“As tough as it is to be in those negotiations is the reason why I stay out of them,” Bisciotti said.