Ray Rice Said to Be Asking for $10 Million a Year, But Ravens’ Hesitance Shows Decreasing Value of Running Backs

Ray Rice Said to Be Asking for $10 Million a Year, But Ravens' Hesitance Shows Decreasing Value of Running BacksMake no mistake about it: Professional football is about the money. A career in the NFL can be brief, and players are wise to cash in while they can.

But Ray Rice may be taking things a bit too far. The Baltimore Ravens running back is believed to be seeking a contract worth $10 million per year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It's easy to understand where Rice is coming from with his demands. After all, running backs don't have a large window of opportunity to score a big pay day. Very few backs stay among the league's elite beyond age 30.

Rice is 25 years old and just finished the final season on his rookie contract, which was only worth $2.805 million plus his $1.1 million signing bonus.The Ravens slapped the franchise tag on the dual-threat back this offseason, setting him up to make $7.7 million this season.

But Rice is seeking the financial security of a long-term deal, and rightfully so. With 6,612 all-purpose yards and 29 touchdowns in his four-year NFL career, it's safe to say Rice has earned the faith of the Ravens organization.

The short lifespan of NFL running backs could make Baltimore hesitant to break out the checkbook, though, especially considering the recent market price on running backs.

A handful of rushers have been in Rice's shoes over the past few offseason, including Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy, two highly regarded young running backs, this summer. The Carolina Panthers skewed the market a bit by giving DeAngelo Williams $8.6 million a year last offseason, and LeSean McCoy's newly signed contract, worth $9 million annually, will only further fuel Rice's desire for a big paycheck.

It's becoming a common theme. Running backs burst onto the scene and want to be compensated for it, but the negotiations can be taxing on the team and the player. Chris Johnson went through a lengthy holdout last offseason, and once the Titans gave in to his demands, he delivered a dud of a season.

Hence the hesitation from teams.

Plus, in a passing league, how important is having an elite running back? Surely the Ravens enjoy having No. 27 in the backfield, but at what cost? Paying Rice $10 million per season would make him the third highest paid player at his position. While he very well may be the third-best running back in the league, that doesn't mean a team is wise to invest that type of money in a ball carrier.

In fact, recent league history seems to show the opposite. Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are the two richest running backs in the league, and neither has won a Super Bowl. Steven Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Williams, Marshawn Lynch and Maurice Jones-Drew are all among the highest paid running backs in the NFL, and there is not a single Super Bowl ring between them.

Quarterback has always been the most important position on the field, and that's becoming even more apparent with each passing season. A strong running game will only take a team so far these days.

So, while it's easy to understand where Rice is coming from with his demands, the Ravens have to be careful about the type of money they throw at their elite running back.

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