Friday, April 13, 2012
Report: Rice not expected to report Monday
By Jamison Hensley
In a move that should surprise no one, running back Ray Rice won't report Monday when the Ravens' voluntary offseason workouts begin, a source told the NFL Network.
This would have been bigger news if Rice had decided to show up Monday. Rice has yet to sign his franchise tag and isn't expected to do so anytime soon.
He recently expressed a desire to attend the workouts, but this is strictly a smart business decision. By putting the tag on Rice, the Ravens are only on the hook for this season. The team has given no long-term security to Rice, so why should he risk long-term consequences by participating in any team-related activity this spring?
Rice's absence shouldn't hurt the team even if it extends into training camp. He has always reported to camp in shape, so there's no concern about his conditioning. This is also Rice's fifth season in the same offensive system, which means he won't be behind in the playbook once he returns.
Ravens officials have been resigned to the fact that Rice would skip the workouts.
"Up until a guy actually signs his franchise tender, he's not under contract and we're not even allowed to ask him to our mandatory minicamp," general manager Ozzie Newsome said earlier this month. "We understand those things and lived them through [Terrell] Suggs, Chris [McAlister] and even Wally Williams. We've experienced that before. Would Coach [John] Harbaugh want 100 percent participation in every offseason program and every OTA and every minicamp? Yes he would. But he knows that unrealistic also."
The date to watch isn't Monday. It's July 16. That's the deadline for teams to reach long-term deals with players who received the franchise tag. Otherwise, Rice will play the entire season under the tag, which pays him $7.7 million this season.
In related news, cornerback Cary Williams is also expected to be a no-show Monday, according to the NFL Network. Williams, a restricted free agent, is in talks for a new deal with the team.
This is hardly news. He is still recovering from hip surgery and he wouldn't be able to participate even if he wanted to do so. Unlike Rice, it's in Williams' best interest to report as soon as he can. His absence only increases the likelihood that Jimmy Smith takes over the starting job next to Lardarius Webb.