The Pittsburgh Steelers can look forward to facing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for several more years as the Ravens reached a last minute deal today with their franchised running back just prior to the 4 p.m. deadline. Rice reportedly was given a five year deal that could total out as high as $40 million should he hit all of his escalators. The deal is said to pay Rice $25 million in the first two years, of which $24 million is guaranteed. Rice also will make $17 million in 2012, of which as much as $16 million could be the signing bonus.
Had a new deal not been reached by the deadline today, Rice would have counted $7.749 million against the 2012 cap for the Ravens, who would have then not been able to negotiate a new deal with him until after the season ended. Instead, the 2012 cap hit on Rice could be right under $4.5 million now, depending on the total amount of the signing bonus given, which will be prorated out over the 5 years.
Rice has gained 4,377 regular season yards on 959 carries during his first four season with the Ravens since being drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft out of Rutgers. Rice also is a multi-purpose back in addition as he also has registered 250 catches for another 2,235 yards. He has 29 regular season touchdowns also to his credit.
The signing of Rice should free up some well needed cap room for the Ravens, who were right up against the cap limit headed into the Monday. His signing also means that the Ravens could possibly now turn their attention to quarterback Joe Flacco, who is about to enter the final year of his rookie deal in 2012. The Ravens very well could decide to let Flacco play out his final season in 2012 and slap him with the franchise tag next offseason if no new deal is reached before then.
UPDATE: The signing bonus was $15 million and 2012 base salary is $2 million. That makes the 2012 cap hit for Rice $5 million, which is $2.749 less than he would have counted wearing the tag. In addition, Rice also has a $7 million option bonus due next March, which is guaranteed in case of injury. That $7 million can easily be restructured and turned into a signing bonus and prorated the remaining four years left on the deal, which would lower the 2013 cap hit on Rice more than $5 million in 2013. Mix in the performance escalators, and this was a very well crafted deal by both sides.