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Monday, February 17, 2014
What's going on with Ray Rice?

By Jamison Hensley

What's going on with running back Ray Rice?

That is what every member in the Baltimore Ravens organization has to be asking after hearing Rice was arrested and charged in an altercation involving his fiancée at an Atlantic City casino. This is the most important offseason of Rice's NFL career, and he's making headlines for all of the wrong reasons.

Rice was statistically one of the worst starting running backs in the NFL last season. While offensive line struggles played a major part in Rice's disappointing season, he lacked the same elusiveness from previous seasons.

If Rice needs a reminder, owner Steve Bisciotti had this to say about him after the season: "I think he'll come back with a vengeance ... and if he doesn't, then we'll be making a tough decision next year, probably."

The owner is telling Rice that he gets one more year to prove himself. So, what does Rice do five weeks later? According to Atlantic City police, Rice and his fiancée "struck each other with their hands."

Rice is definitely on the team for the 2014 season because the Ravens don't clear any salary-cap room even if they did release him (and no team official has insinuated this). What Rice is playing for is his $3 million salary in the final two years of his deal (2015 and 2016). If he struggles again this season, the Ravens can make Rice a June 1 cut and gain $3 million of cap space in 2015.

Let's recount Rice's past six months, which have been the toughest stretch of his career:
Rice is only 27, but he just completed his sixth NFL season after a lot of carries in college. There has been talk about whether Rice is done as a premier back in this league. Going forward, all of his focus should be on convincing the Ravens that he can be the Ray Rice from previous seasons and not the one from recent months.