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As the Ravens began offseason workouts this week, the one uncertainty hanging over the program was the ongoing contract negotiations with running back Ray Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Cary Williams.
Flacco reported for the voluntary workouts on Monday, but Rice and Williams, who is rehabilitating from offseason hip surgery, both opted not to attend and to instead work out on their own.
It is common for veterans and players engaged in contract negotiations to sit out of the voluntary offseason workouts, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome knows that’s part of the process.
Ozzie On Negotiations
“We understand the nature of the business,” Newsome said. “Having been an ex-player, do they want to take an opportunity to risk an injury this time of the year? Because if it does [happen], it will affect the negotiations.”
All three players are unsigned after the 2012 season, but Newsome reiterated that the Ravens are continuing long-term negotiations with them and that they will be back in Baltimore this fall.
“We are in talks with all three,” Newsome said. “One thing that’s already been established is that all three will be on our team this year.”
The ongoing negotiations won’t have an impact on the Ravens’ draft strategy, Newsome said, because “we keep that separate and we try to bring in the best player.”
The Ravens have applied the $7.7 million franchise tag to Rice and placed a second-round tender on Williams. Flacco still has one year remaining on his five-year rookie contract.
Even though Rice has not yet returned to Baltimore to take part in the offseason conditioning program, he has emphasized that he will be in shape when he does arrive.
“Nobody ever has to worry about me being in shape,” Rice said earlier this month at the Nike uniform launch. “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.”
Rice has also been tweeting recently about his conditioning regimen, which he says sometimes includes two workouts a day.
The Ravens have until July 16 to work out a long-term deal with Rice and Williams, or they will have to play under the tenders.
As the Ravens continue to work on deals with all three players, Newsome’s message was to allow the process to play out over the next several weeks.
“We understand the give and take that goes [on] through the season, but I think they’ve got good representation and [Ravens chief negotiator] Pat [Moriarty] is one of the best in the business,” Newsome said. “Things will work themselves out.”