Rice finds comfort in new 5-year deal with Ravens
Ray Rice was going to receive plenty of money from the Baltimore Ravens this season, even if he didn't sign a new $40 million contract last week.
So, when Rice put his name on the five-year pact, the Pro Bowl running back insisted he was more excited about the length of the deal than the wad of money that would be coming his way.
Had Rice not signed, he would have played the 2012 season under the $7.7 million franchise tag tender.
''You take 7.7 million, anyway you cut it, still my family is going to be fine,'' Rice said Wednesday. ''When I signed I was relieved. It was more like, `OK, that's over with. The business side is done.'''
The contract averages out to around $8 million a year, including $17 million this season and $8 million in 2013. But for Rice, the security it brought was priceless.
''Playing under the franchise tag, me mentally, I wouldn't have known if I would be a Raven next year. That's where it scares you,'' he said. ''It doesn't scare you in terms of financial stability because I'm going to get that. It scares you in terms of, where am I going to be next year? That feeling, I don't have to worry about.''
It was a fair deal for Rice and a solid investment for the Ravens.
''It means that we'll have Ray here for a long period of time, which is a great thing,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''Congratulations to Ray. I thought both sides did a great job of getting the deal done. Nobody was happier than me, except for Ray. Ray was really happy.''
And now, wealthy.
''The first thing I did, just being honest, is I got my mom a house,'' Rice said.
Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of Rice's four seasons, twice advancing to the AFC title game. He earned his second Pro Bowl invite last year after leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 1,364 yards rushing. He also scored a career-best 15 touchdowns.
Since being drafted out of Rutgers in the second round of the 2008 draft, Rice leads the NFL in receptions and yards receiving by a running back. He's had 250 catches for 2,235 yards during that span.
Those were some of the numbers his agent brought to the table in negotiating a new deal.
''When you're going through that process, you're thinking about the franchise tag for one year,'' Rice said. ''Now you're inked for five years. So essentially, hopefully, I want to retire a Raven. That's what it all boils down to. You get your second contract, you think about long term. That'd be nine years of my life that I've been in Baltimore. So needless to say, Baltimore has become home for me. My license says Baltimore. I'm no longer a New Yorker. I just visit there now.''
Had Rice and the Ravens not reached an agreement, he would not be required to be in training camp at the outset.
After missing all offseason activities, he reported on time Wednesday and intends to participate in the first practice session Thursday.
''It was tough being away,'' he said. ''I know I probably wouldn't have to be at every single thing, but I would've loved to have been at some things that were important, like minicamp or the first week of OTAs to jell with the guys. The most important thing is that I'm here for training camp. That's the biggest thing. That way I can just get my timing back just playing football.''
Signing Rice during the offseason was a huge priority for the Ravens. Next on the list is quarterback Joe Flacco, whose contract expires after this season.
Rice expects general manager Ozzie Newsome to get it done.
''One thing I know about Joe - and me and Joe came in together - is he's going to be a Raven for a long time,'' Rice said. ''He's already said that. Joe Flacco has been a great quarterback for us. I know at the end of the day, it's going to get taken care of.
''Quite frankly, they can take care of him now or they can take care of him later, and they do have the option of the franchise tag, which gives them more time,'' Rice said. ''When you bridge the gap, he's going to get taken care of.''
NOTES: The Ravens signed former Buffalo Bills G Cordaro Howard and two former Oakland LBs, Ricky Brown and Darryl Blackstock.