Ravens Free Agency: Little Doubt Ray Rice Gets Franchise Tag

The 2012 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis on Wednesday, with the majority of football's front offices in attendance to evaluate the best college talent in the country prior to this year's NFL Draft. The Baltimore Ravens will have the majority of their decision makers in Indy, and they plan to touch base with a couple of their key players about contract extensions, in addition to scouting potential new recruits.

According to Jeff Zrebeic of the Baltimore Sun, the team will be placing a priority on attempting to extend star running back Ray Rice, who is set to become a free agent on March 13.

The Ravens have until March 5 to put the franchise tag on Rice, which seems to be little more than a formality. Not only will the tag ensure that Rice remains with the Ravens without getting an opportunity to shop his services elsewhere, it will buy the team and his agent, Todd France, some time to negotiate a long-term deal.

If the Ravens put the franchise tag on Rice, they'll have until July 16 to negotiate with the running back before he plays the season under the franchise tag and an expected $7.7 million salary.

To this point, there have been no developments in negotiations with Rice and this week would be a good time for groundwork to be laid.

Rice has expressed his desire to return to the team and the team has made it fairly clear that they don't intend on letting 2012 arrive without the RB wearing purple and black. They'll be hoping to work out an extension first, but it would not be a surprise if they applied the franchise tag prior to the March 5 deadline.

For all news and information regarding the Baltimore Ravens, please visit Baltimore Beatdown.

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