With today's opening of the franchise tag window, talks on a new contract between the Baltimore Ravens and running back Ray Rice are expected to pick up, The Baltimore Sun reports.
According to the Sun, the Ravens and Rice's agent, Todd France, are expected to meet during this week's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
If a deal cannot be reached by March 5, the Ravens are expected use the franchise tag on Rice, which would guarantee the two-time Pro Bowler around $7.7 million in 2012. That's more than double what Rice earned on his four-year, $3.159 million rookie contract, but less than a third of what Rice would earn in guaranteed money if he were allowed to test the free agent market and far below the Adrian Peterson money that Peter King reports Rice's camp is seeking.
In his three seasons as the full-time starter in the Ravens' backfield, the 25-year-old Rice has averaged 1,308 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, while adding an average of 72 receptions for 654 yards with five total receiving touchdowns.
Overall, Rice has 4,377 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns and 250 receptions for 2,235 yards as a receiver out of the backfield. In seven post-season games, Rice has 444 rushing yards and three touchdowns with 29 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield. Most of Rice's playoff success was in 2009, when he ran for 226 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Rice has averaged less than 3.5 yards per carry in the four post-season games since.
Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,068) in 2012 and was named to his second Pro Bowl.