The Baltimore Ravens seem to be having a tough off season for a team that went 12-4 last season, and missed a trip to the Super Bowl by mere inches. The Ravens was one of the most solid teams in the NFL last season, with a top 5 defense and an above average offense, but they are having trouble re-signing key players on both sides of the ball.
It starts with running back Ray Rice, who received a franchise designation this off season. He has yet to sign his franchise offer, which would pay him $7.7 million for next season, because Rice wants a long term deal.
“Until a guy actually signs his franchise tender, he’s not under contract and we’re not allowed to even ask him to come to our mandatory minicamp,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “We understand those things… We’ve experienced that before, and we’ll be prepared.”
The team may be underestimating the value of Rice, who accounted for over 2,000 yards from scrimmage last season. Rice was the Ravens leading rusher with 1,364 yards and 12 TDs, and was also their third leading receiver, adding 76 receptions for 704 yards and 3 TDs. His 2,068 yards from scrimmage account for almost 37 percent of the Ravens offense. And 76 receptions along with 291 rushing attempts accounts for 361 offensive plays last season.
While the prospect of the team having to play without Rice is scary, he isn’t the only leader feeling disrespected. All-Pro safety Ed Reed is in the final year of a six-year deal, and would like to negotiate an extended deal, but said he had to take a back seat.
“Did Ed Reed get the respect that he deserves? No, he did not,” Reed told WJZ-FM , via the Ravens’ official website . “Am I going to get it? Probably won’t. Hopefully he do. If I don’t, then, hey, man, I’m all right with me.”
Reed went on to add, “My family has got to be taken care of. I don’t want to hear that I’m getting old. I don’t want to hear that.”
“When I’m on the football field, I’m giving you everything,” Reed said. “Do the Ravens know that? Yes, they do. Did Ozzie (Newsome) know that Ed Reed was going to be playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers regardless of negotiating his contract? Yes, he did. “
And as if that wasn’t enough, representatives of quarterback Joe Flacco have been trying to get a new deal done for him as well, with little progress being made so far. With the franchise tag on Rice, all three of these team leaders are under contract for next season, but none are happy with their current deal and are getting frustrated with a lack of progress on new contracts.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said in March that it was important for the Ravens to reach deals with Flacco and Rice as soon as possible. Keeping Rice, Flacco and Reed all happy and engaged is going to be key for the Ravens to make another deep playoff push like last season. Time for management to get the checkbook out.