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Ravens sign Rice to five-year deal

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Ravens sign Rice to five-year deal

In a dramatic offseason maneuver, the Ravens signed running back Ray Rice to a five-year contract just minutes before Mondays deadline for franchise players.

Rice, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2011, landed a 40 million deal that includes 24 million in guaranteed salary, including 17 million in the first year.

Although the deal's total value is smaller than the deals signed by other top running backs such as Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy and Houston's Arian Foster since the end of last season, Rice is getting several million more than the others in guaranteed money, with the bulk of it coming in the first two years of the deal.

No matter how you slice it or look at it, Rice is now a wealthy young man.

"Baltimore I'm back well I never left lol" Rice tweeted shortly after the deal was struck.

This is another example of (Ravens owner) Steve Bisciottis commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players," Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said in a statement, adding that Rice's "production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding."

The negotiations went right up to the deadline. There was no news from either side and little reason for optimism until a half hour before the deadline when Ravens fullback Vonta Leach tweeted: @RayRice27 and the ravens will get a deal done.

His tweet proved prophetic.

Once the news of the deal spread, Rice's teammates weigh in immediately on Twitter.

"YESSIR!!!!!!!" receiver Torrey Smith wrote.

Even the baseball team across town weighed in, as Orioles outfielder Adam Jones tweeted, "Congrats to my dude @RayRice27 on his new contract. Let's do something special in Bmore for years to come my man. Ball outrageous."

Rice had walked into the Ravens' training facility around 3:15 p.m. to be on hand as his attorney, Todd France, negotiated with Pat Moriarty, the Ravens' vice-president for football administration. After the deal was struck, Rice left the facility to celebrate with his family without speaking to the media.

With the move, the Ravens lock up the services of their offensive engine, who has generated more 6,600 yards of rushing and receiving yards in four seasons, making two trips to the Pro Bowl in the process.

The deal also eliminates the potential distraction of wondering whether Rice would miss part of training camp, as was his right as a franchise player. Rice skipped the teams entire offseason program, including the mandatory minicamp last month.

When the Ravens hold their first training camp practice on July 26, Rice will be on the field with his teammates for the first time since the AFC title game in January.

With Rice locked up, the Ravens will not face the possibility of seeingthree of their cornerstone players (Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and safety EdReed) simultaneously reach unrestricted free agency after the 2012 season.

Now, signing Flacco becomes the priority.

According to Pro Football Talk, Rice is receiving a 15 million signing bonus along with a non-guaranteed base salary of 2 million in 2012. (As if they would cut him.) A 7 million option bonus is due in March 2013, with a 1 million base salary for the 2013 season.

For those keeping score at home, that's 24 million in Rice's pocket by next March. Rice is due to earn a base salary of 4 million in 2014 and 3 million in both 2015 and 2016.

The deal also includes a 5 million bonus structure, as spelled out by Pro Football Talk: "If he reaches specific rushingreceiving targets in any of the first three years of the deal, and if the team finishes in the top 10 in total offense, Rice receives a 1 million incentive in the year he accomplishes the feat and another 4 million is spread over the remaining years of the deal."

Not bad.

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player preceded to plunder his locker Wednesday. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow. 

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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have butterflies at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."

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