Late For Work 7/11: No Rice Deal ‘Imminent’ With Clock Ticking

McKinnie a potential camp casualty. Raven under most pressure (not named Flacco).

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 at 9:13 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

No Rice Deal ‘Imminent’ With Clock Ticking

Unless something suddenly changes in the next several days, it looks like Ray Rice will be playing under the franchise tag in 2012.

With Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline looming, no long-term deal is “imminent” for the Pro Bowl running back, according to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times.

While time remains to negotiate, the atmosphere will have to change for things to pick up, as Wilson calls it “a quiet time” for Rice.

Impact Of Playing With Franchise Tag

If a deal is reached, it is speculated that it will mirror the new contracts of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million, $20.8 million guaranteed) and Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (five years, $45.6 million, $20.8 million guaranteed).

If no deal is struck, Rice will play under the $7.7 million tag, but may decide to hold out of training camp and the preseason to avoid the risk of injury. Rice has not commented about when he would report to camp if he ends up playing under the tag. After July 16, the two sides will not be able to hit the negotiating tables again until after the season.

With seven franchised players still unsigned and the deadline around the corner, NFL Total Access tried to put themselves in the shoes of players like Rice, Drew Brees and Cliff Avril. What will be running through their minds as they await the deadline?

“If I was put in that situation now, I would think first of all, they don’t value me,” said NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp, who admitted he was never tagged during his 13-year career. “They don’t think I’m the player that I think I am and I’m an intricate cog in this engine. I’m just another piece. I’m just a piston that’s pumping the engine and sending it down the road.”

But Willie McGinest said that’s not always how franchised players feel. That will largely depend on how well talks are going and where the gap is.

Both the Ravens and Rice have been very hush-hush about their negotiations, and it is unclear where the difference lies. It has only been speculated that Rice wants Vikings’ Adrian Peterson/Titans’ Chris Johnson money while the Ravens are offering Foster/McCoy money. That’s a difference of about $10 million in guaranteed money.

McKinnie A Potential Camp Casualty

Holding starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie out of mandatory minicamp practice for conditioning purposes last month continues to give outsiders the perception that he may be expendable.

With just $606,858 left in the Ravens’ salary-cap space, NFL.com’s Brian McIntyre sees McKinnie as a potential training camp casualty.

“The Ravens have options at the position and if the soon-to-be 33-year-old looks more like a planet than a left tackle when he reports to training camp, his $3.2 million base salary could make him expendable,” McIntyre wrote.

Yes, the Ravens will always have other options. But are those options better than McKinnie, a 10-year veteran?

Michael Oher would have to swing from the right to left side again. Then who takes over at right tackle? Jah Reid? Rookie Kelechi Osemele? Some say Osemele will be starting at left guard by the end of the season. Taking McKinnie out of the lineup could have a drastic domino effect on the entire line.

As CSNBaltimore.com’s Bo Smolka points out, McKinnie has started all 16 games in eight of the past nine years. He only missed four games during that span for violating the league’s personal conduct policy in 2008.

That’s not too shabby for a guy who supposedly won’t be able to last a full season.

McKinnie signed with the Ravens last year after a long lockout where he reportedly ballooned to 400 pounds. While it’s unclear if that was his actual weight, McKinnie does admit he was overweight and explained that the Ravens would now like him to play at 345 pounds. He said he left minicamp at 354, and is well on his way.

McKinnie added that the Ravens want him to return to his Pro Bowl level.

There’s a big difference between helping a player return to Pro Bowl form and actually considering cutting him. Even if he doesn’t reach that stature again this season, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a valuable part of the front line.

Raven Under Most Pressure (Not Named Flacco) = Kruger

He’s a quarterback. He hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet. He’s a lightning rod for criticism.

Of course Joe Flacco is one of the first names that come to mind when naming a Ravens player under the most pressure in 2012.

But outside of Flacco, who else might be feeling the heat to step up?

“You could argue that no player on the Ravens is under more pressure in 2012 than Paul Kruger,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

A former second-round pick and a fourth-year linebacker, Kruger will be depended upon to become a starter for the first time in his career now that Jarret Johnson is gone and Terrell Suggs injured his Achilles tendon.

But crucial questions still surround Kruger as the Ravens hand him the coveted role.

“A year ago, the Ravens wondered if Kruger even had a future in Baltimore,” Eisenberg wrote. “He had struggled to gain traction in his first two seasons after joining the team as a second-round pick in 2009. But he separated himself from the dreaded B-word (bust) in 2011 with a breakout performance that included 5.5 sacks in a specialist role.”

Now the columnist wonders if Kruger can handle being on the field as a three-down defender and if he can set the edge of a run even though he’s mainly been a pass-rush specialist the last three seasons.

After going back and looking at the tape of every down Kruger played in 2011, Head Coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence in Kruger’s ability.

But as he works to effectively fill Suggs’ spot, Kruger wanted to make sure everyone understood one thing.

“Let’s be clear: I’m not Terrell Suggs. We’re different players,” Kruger said earlier this spring. “He was the best defensive player in the entire NFL last season. I’m going to be the best I can be and I’ll be working as hard as I can to fill the position.”

Quick Hits

  • Lawyers representing the NCAA filed a brief supporting the dismissal of a lawsuit that Ravens linebacker Michael McAdoo filed after the NCAA suspended him indefinitely for an academic violation and accepting impermissible benefits. McAdoo sought the restoration of his eligibility along with some monetary damages, but NCAA lawyers argue both points are moot now that McAdoo signed with Ravens. [The Charlotte Observer]
  • @TwentyER (Ed Reed): Y’all believe money really make a difference to the families that lost love1′s bc of football? Some people just want us to entertain them! [Twitter]
  • @TwentyER: $,it matters that’s y it’s a busines w/ two sides to it and the players r wrong, but we on the field and getting RELEASE at any point [Twitter]
  • @TwentyER: Anyone I’m tweeting workout today in this weather?If you didn’t stop wasting my time man, if u not motivating ur tearing down that’snotright [Twitter]
  • @BryantMckinnie: Just got some news that I’m excited about, but will let it take its course. [Twitter]
  • Matt Williamson gives the Ravens a C grade for their offseason moves. [ESPN]
  • “I’m very blessed, very happy I fell into this predicament,” Courtney Upshaw said of falling to the second round of the draft in April. “I was disappointed in the draft, not being a first-rounder, but at the end of the day I landed in a great spot. Why it happened, I don’t know. I just enjoy being with the Ravens. The veterans there are unbelievable. It’s a great atmosphere, starting with Ozzie (Newsome), the coaches, Ray Lewis, everybody.” [FOXSportsOhio.com]

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