A full week into the window for using the franchise tag, no player has yet to be on the receiving end of a pair of multi-million-dollar handcuffs. Though Ravens running back Ray Rice may not be the first, it’s looking more and more inevitable that, eventually, it’ll happen.
“We obviously know the tag is coming,” agent Todd France told Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times. “But we will continue to have open dialogue and see if we can come to a long-term agreement, which is the preference for both sides.”
And so, at some point in the next week, Rice will receive an offer of a one-year, $7.7 million contract. The next question will be whether he’ll sign the tender while negotiations continue, or whether he’ll hold out. Coach John Harbaugh thinks/hopes he won’t.
“I would be surprised, just knowing Ray and I know how much he loves football,” Harbaugh recently said, via Chris Korman of the Baltimore Sun. “I think he understands there’s not leverage to be gained by doing that.
“Guys who’ve done that haven’t come out and played well. That would never be the way to get a contract here. That’s not how the Ravens have operated.”
That may be the case, but there’s definitely leverage to be gained via a denial of services — and Harbaugh knows it. Rice isn’t under contract, and he can show up days before the start of the regular season and still get the full amount of the franchise tender.
Though Rice likely wouldn’t hold out, there’s a certain amount of risk in verbally strong-arming him. The Ravens surely would prefer to take it year-by-year for now, given that Rice plays a position that typically entails injury, sometimes serious. Rice surely would prefer the protection against injury that comes with a long-term deal.