The Baltimore Ravens conducted their end-of-the-season press conference on Wednesday and one of the main subjects was pending unrestricted free agent status of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome hopes to avoid using the franchise tag by reaching a long-term contract extension with Rice.
"We would like to have a deal done with Ray before we get have to put the tag on him," said Newsome. “(A potential new contract for Rice) does give us flexibility to go and do some other things with some other players. The agent knows that, too, so we have to balance that."
The Ravens will have between February 20 and March 5 to use the franchise tag on Rice.
One of the most complete running backs in the NFL, Rice has 4,377 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing with 250 receptions for 2,235 yards and five touchdowns in 61 games over the last four seasons. To franchise the two-time Pro Bowler would cost around $8 million in 2012, which is likely a fraction of what Rice's camp is looking for in guaranteed money on a long-term contract.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson signed a six-year, $85 million contract extension that included $36 million in guarantees in September and Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson received $30 million in guarantees on a four-year $53.975 million extension in August.