The Baltimore Ravens will use their 2012 franchise tag on Ray Rice, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Rice, 24, is making just $550,000 in the final year of his rookie contract. Rice is expected to get a hefty pay raise and will be due about $7.71 million as the franchise running back. Players who are offered the one-year franchise deal earn a top five salary at their position.
It’s certainly a well deserved raise for Rice. The franchise tag was originally intended as an honor. However, many players have grown to resent it because it takes the player off the free-agent market at least for another year.
With quarterback Joe Flacco’s contract expiring at season’s end, and with the team most likely focusing its efforts on resigning Flacco to a long-term deal, this is a move that could delay Rice’s big deal by another year. It’s very likely Rice could get a similar deal to the Tennessee Titans’, Chris Johnson, who signed a four years, $53.5 million, including $30 million guaranteed this off-season.
Rice, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2008, has been the focal point of the Ravens offense the last several seasons. He currently leads the team in rushing 115 carries for 489 yards and five touchdowns, including a career-high three in the win over Arizona Cardinals Sunday. Also, Rice has caught 33 passes for 373 yards and has two receiving touchdowns.
Since the 2009 season, Rice has a league-high 25 games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage.