CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 01: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Ravens Lock Up Ray Rice With 5-Year Contract

Ray Rice and the Ravens agreed to a deal shortly before Monday's deadline.

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Ray Rice 'Optimistic' About Extension Before Monday's Deadline

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice said he's "always optimistic" that he will come to an agreement on a new contract with the organization prior to Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. If he cannot reach a deal with the Ravens by then, he will have to play under the franchise tag in 2012. That franchise designation would pay him $7.7. million next season, but Rice told Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun that he holds out hope that a deal will be worked out:

"I'm always optimistic," Rice said while playing host to "A Ray of Hope," an anti-bullying teen suicide outreach event at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia. "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 difference of an experience for me."

While the Pro Bowl back remains hopeful, there have been no reports of progress made between his representative Todd France and the Ravens. Much like Drew Brees, the franchise quarterback who signed a massive new deal on Friday, Rice skipped offseason workouts this spring and summer as he waited for a new deal.

For more on the Ravens and Ray Rice's situation, check out SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown.

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Ray Rice, Ravens Have Work To Do On Long-Term Contract

The biggest offseason item on the Baltimore Ravens' to-do list is getting running back Ray Rice re-signed. From the sound of it, they've still got a bit of work to do on that front. The two sides have made no progress on agreeing to a deal for the now out-of-contract Rice, according to a report in Pro Football Talk.

That news seems to mean Rice could be heading toward the dreaded Franchise Tag. That would mean that a team signing Rice would have to send a first-round pick to the Ravens if they signed him.

For a player of Rice's pedigree, that hardly seems like a high price. Rice, 25, is coming off a career year in which he rushed for 1,364 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He also had a career high 704 yards receiving and made 76 catches. He's now rushed for at least 1,200 yards, scored at least six touchdowns, made at least 60 catches and racked up 500 yards receiving for three straight seasons.

For more analysis of Rice's situation, be sure to check out Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown.

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