PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Ray Rice’s stance has not changed since last season ended.
He still wants a long-term deal and hopes that it gets done before the 2012 season.
“I played out my contract, I outplayed my contract,” Rice said Tuesday at the Nike uniform unveiling in New York. “Staying patient is key, but I do think I’m due. I’m up for one.
“Everybody knows I outplayed my contract. It’s not a hidden agenda. I think the Ravens have a history of taking care of their guys.”
The Ravens applied the franchise tag to Rice before the start of free agency, keeping him from hitting the open market and guaranteeing that he will be back in Baltimore for at least one more season.
Rice has not signed the franchise tag yet, and hopes he doesn’t have to.
“I don’t want to have to play under the tag, but if I had to, I have to do it,” Rice said. “Just knowing the Ravens, if they want to get a deal done, they’ll get it done.”
If the Ravens aren’t able to work out a new contract with Rice before the team’s offseason workout program begins later this month, it’s unclear whether he will participate.
Rice said that he “looks forward to being there,” but also acknowledged that he and his agent Todd France have not made a decision about whether he will attend without having a new deal in place.
“Me and my agent have been going over things and what we’re going to do is figure out what’s best for us going forward,” Rice said. “We haven’t made a decision. As far as we know, we look forward to being [at offseason workouts]. Maybe it will be under some terms, whether I sign the tag or not. But I want to be there. I like to be around my guys.”
If Rice chooses to stay out of the offseason program, he said there should be no concern about him showing up for training camp out of shape.
“Nobody ever has to worry about me being in shape,” Rice said. “We had a whole lockout last year and I came back and had the best season of my life. We can talk about the offseason program, but we also know that the offseason program didn’t make me last year when we had a whole lockout.”
In terms of the contract negotiations, Rice did not provide specifics about the kind of money he hopes to get. (He did say that it wasn’t “Adrian Peterson money,” as a previous report mentioned). Instead, he referenced recent deals that running backs have received, saying those are a good starting point for the negotiations.
“I didn’t set the number for what the running backs got paid,” Rice said. “There’s other guys that got paid before me with lesser stats, lesser numbers, or maybe the same productivity. I didn’t set that number.”
The other premier running backs who got deals this offseason were Houston’s Arian Foster and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.
Rice had better statistics than both players last year, as he gained more yards from scrimmage, and was selected to his second Pro Bowl.
“That number is out there for the world to see what those other guys got,” Rice said. “That’s where you kind of want to start.”
Rice also discounted the notion that investing in him as a running back is a risky proposition, even in a passing-driven league.
“The running back position is a unique position,” Rice said. “Obviously it’s a little bit harder to invest in a running back because of the wear and tear. But I’m 25 years old with a full head of steam, still learning the game, still getting better.”
As far as the timing goes for reaching a new contract, Rice doesn’t have a specific timetable in mind.
“I think progress is being made,” Rice said. “We know things don’t happen overnight, but [I] think a lot of things can change within a few days, weeks, months. When it happens, it happens.
“The franchise tag bought us some time to get it all figured out before the season.”
Rice also doesn’t plan to get too involved in the process.
“The thing about contracts is that I hired an agent and my agent is going to do all the dirty work for me,” he said. “That’s the negotiating process. My job is to play football and that’s why we hire agents.
“I love the game of football, but the business side of this thing is rough. You really don’t want to get your feelings involved in it because that’s when things will be said that you really don’t mean at the time.”
Rice said that he plans to continue working out on his own and will give the process time to play out.
There’s still plenty of uncertainty as negotiations continue, but the one guarantee is that Rice will be back in a Ravens uniform this year.
“Obviously I’m not going anywhere for next year,” he said. “I am guaranteed a year.”