Who needed Mondays deal more, the Ravens or running back Ray Rice?
One could certainly make the case that Rice was facing a pretty daunting scenario before he struck the five-year, 40 million deal that made him the NFLs third-highest-paid running back.
If the deadline had passed without a deal, Rice would have played in 2012 on a one-year contract. His 7.7 million salary was anything but chump change, but the one-year deal left him vulnerable to an injury possibly ruining the market for his longterm services. And of course, the Ravens had the option of putting the franchise tag on him yet again in 2013.
Put simply, he was on the verge of possibly steaming through his prime earning years on a succession of short-term deals, without a safety net or the guarantees that other stars at his position had obtained.
Yes, Rice needed to make that deal Monday.
But the Ravens needed Rice more.
Rices agent, Todd France, told the Carroll County Times Monday that Rice would have skipped at least part of training camp and possibly even some regular season games if hed had to play under the franchise tag in 2012 after not getting the longterm deal he wanted. Needless to say, that could have caused major problems.
The Ravens had offensive consistency issues as it was in 2011, even with Rice leading the league in yards from scrimmage. The passing game was up and down. There were a few clunker performances.
Quite simply, the Ravens offense couldnt be counted on to deliver from week to week. There just werent enough consistent playmakers.
Taking the units one consistent playmaker out of that equation in 2012 could have been disastrous, especially with Terrell Suggs out indefinitely and the rest of the defense dealing issues such as age, contracts and changing personnel putting more pressure on the offense to step up.
The Ravens havent really added anyone to their offensive mix other than No. 3 receiver Jacoby Jones and rookie running back Bernard Pierce, neither of whom is a difference maker.
They couldnt afford to get into the business of subtracting talent as well.
I have little doubt Rice eventually would have ended his holdout, showed up and played, possibly at his usual high level. Whatever the agent says might have happened, Rice, a total pro and legitimate team guy, would have felt terribly about letting down his teammates and tried to make up for it.
The fact that it never came to that obviously is a relief for all involved. Both sides needed each other in this tense negotiation that went down to the final minutes, and make no mistake, it took two willing parties to make the deal.
But while Rice really needed it, the Ravens needed their star running back even more.