Unsurprisingly, Ray Rice was handed the Baltimore Ravens' franchise tag on Friday. He will be among the highest paid running backs in the league, earning $7.7 million next season. More importantly, the Ravens bought time to negotiate a long term contract with arguably their most important offensive player. Rice was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
"As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract," Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We've done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago."
The Ravens could remove Rice's franchise tag if they can get a new contract in place by July 15. Whether it comes before, during, or after the season, expect a deal to get done at some point. Rice has stated several times that he would like to remain a Raven.
For more analysis of Rice's situation, be sure to check out Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown.