And now in utterly predictable franchise taggings, we bring you Ray Rice. When a player finished second in the league in rushing yards (1,364) and accounted for 38 percent of your team’s offense, having said player stick around is kind of a good idea.

Ravens executive vice president and general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed the move this afternoon while also stating that the goal of signing Rice to a long-term deal remains a priority.

Here’s your standard generic press release quote

“As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract. Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We’ve done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago.”

That statement is nearly identical to the one given by Newsome a year ago when Ngata was tagged, and indeed he was later signed to a contract that’s pretty, pretty good, one that will secure the financial stability of his family, which includes a dog that wears antlers.

So this Ravens’ scenario with Rice is truly an effort to push back a deadline, unlike the situation that could develop in New Orleans, where the tag will be used to simply retain either Marques Colston or Carl Nicks if Drew Brees is signed to a long-term deal before Monday.

Or maybe that’s a steaming load of crap.

The franchise tag for running backs is very low, and therefore very affordable at just $7.7 million. That’s significantly lower than the tags for quarterbacks ($16.6 million), and still just over $2 million lower than wide receivers ($9.4). This is depressing to write, but Rice is 25 years old, meaning he’s already starting to reach the point where we wonder about his longevity in a league where RBs are paid to run into brick walls multiple times every Sunday.

He wants Adrian Peterson money, and there’s no conceivable way that can happen. Peterson was signed to a seven-year deal worth $96 million this past summer, and then during the finale to a failed season in Minnesota he blew out his knee, and he may never be the same. The term of Peterson’s contract is absurd since he’s 26, but the Vikings were no doubt well aware that he won’t last to the end of that deal. But what’s more absurd is the guaranteed money of $36 million

A three or four year deal would take Rice into his late 20′s. That’s enough risk for Baltimore, and it’ll have to be enough of a commitment for Rice. The alternative is playing under the franchise tag, a move the Ravens could afford since they have roughly $14 million in cap room after cutting Chris Carr and Lee Evans today.

If he’s fine with potentially burning another year of prime production while his legs are still young, Rice can be stubborn and keep chasing that sweet Peterson cash. Hopefully he’s a little more sensible and realistic.

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