OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have hammered out a five-year, $40 million contract with Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, beating an NFL deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals.
Rice will make $25 million in the first two years and $17 million in the first.
Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards last season, leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage.
Rice is a former second-round draft pick who would have played this year under a $7.742 million franchise tender if the deal hadn't gotten done at the last minute.
“I’ll always keep it real for you, but I’m always optimistic,” Rice said when asked about his contract situation Friday night. ”God has put me in a position where not too many people can say they’ve been. I never played for the dollars and all of that other stuff.
.“My rookie contract, quite frankly, you just signed it and go play football. So, this is a little bit different of an experience for me. Needless to say, what puts a smile on my face is that no matter the money I made, I still get to go out here and kids get to see me and smile.”
"He does everything," former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann said. "That’s what makes Ray Rice so unique. I liken him to a more versatile Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys never really threw the ball to Emmitt, but he was diminutive in size like Ray and tough, durable and elusive and he always finished runs.
“The big thing about Ray is he’s the same way, but he’s a much more integral part of what the Ravens want to do throwing the football. I liken him to an Emmitt Smith type of a back.”
Rice rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards and a dozen touchdowns last season. He led the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage and set a franchise record with 15 total touchdowns last season.
Rice also registered a team-high 76 receptions for 704 yards and three touchdowns.
“Ray Rice is a borderline superstar,” former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, a CBS NFL analyst, said in a telephone interview. “What does he mean to the team? It’s priceless. He’s been a terrific pro football player. I thought he would be good, but he’s even better than I thought he was.”
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