It seems that about $8 million annually is the going rate for a running back in his mid 20s who’s really good at running with a football and making sure that people who want to stop his run look foolish.
Earlier today during the franchise deadline day that you surely booked off from work, Matt Forte signed a four-year deal that will pay him $8 million annually, and now the Ravens have locked up ray Rice for five years with a contract that will reportedly give him the same yearly value when averaged out if he meets performance escalators.
The Ravens slid their agreement with Rice in just before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, signing the running back to a five-year deal, according to pretty much everyone who watches/covers/or has heard of NFL football and is within 50 miles of a computer. However, Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times was one of the first sources with the contract terms, and he reports that Rice will be paid $40 million over the life of the contract with $25 million guaranteed, and $17 million front-loaded into the first year. Albert Breer later added more detail, saying that overall the contract is actually worth $35 million, with performance-based escalators that will bring it up to $40 million.
I just wrote the word “million” five times over two sentences. That’s five more times than that word will ever apply to any of you in your life.
So if Rice reaches his performance-based escalators–and while escalators aren’t necessarily always easy, they’re still generally attainable–his pay will average out to $8 million, just like Forte. But the $17 million he’ll be given in just the first year is massive for a running back, and it’s robbery for Rice when we consider his usage.
Sure, he’s still young, but only by the number on his birth certificate, which can sometimes be a number of lesser importance for running backs. The number that’s important when gauging a running back’s age is the one underneath his yearly carries, and even though he’s only 25 Rice already has 959 carries, meaning he’ll hit the 10,000 plateau by about Week 3 this fall. Over the past two seasons he had one 300-carry year, and another one that fell just short (he had 291 carries last year).
He’s a bruiser on a team that’s historically lived and died by the grind, and not in the Kevin Smith sense. Once we toss in his receiving numbers (of which there are plenty with Rice’s 76 receptions last year for a career-high 704 yards) and we realize that his total touches finished at 367 last year, then that $17 million in Year 1 sounds even more fantastic.
Then, when we do one last feat of arithmetic to determine that $4.8 million of Rice’s guaranteed cash will also come in the first year, one last #winning number emerges for Rice. In a year that he definitely won’t get released barring a career-ending injury, Rice will immediately earn 54.5 percent of his money over the five years of this contract. Yes, this is indeed a front office ski mask job, especially for a running back at the beginning of a passing era.
That’s how you cash in on your youth, young man. As a running back, Rice’s overall guarantee is behind only Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, and since his hefty franchise tag cap hit isn’t on the books now for 2012, the Ravens have freed up the space to negotiate with Ed Reed and Joe Flacco. The new deal creates $2.7 million in cap space.
Now the Ravens just have to hope that being a tiny pinball doesn’t take its toll too heavily on Rice. He’s effective now, but it’s difficult to picture what Ray Rice we’ll see when this contract is set to expire and he’s 30 years old. Eventually, every pinball gets whacked a few too many times.