The 2011 season was clearly his finest as he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with a career-high 2,068 yards. He accumulated a career-high 1,364 rushing yards, second behind the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew, and led the Ravens with 76 receptions for a career-high 704 yards. His 15 touchdowns — 12 rushing and three receiving and he also threw a touchdown pass — set a franchise record.
As vital as Rice has been to the Ravens’ offense, some questioned the logic of making a huge financial commitment to a running back because the position has been de-emphasized in the pass-happy NFL. The career span of a running back has also steadily declined due to the pounding that they take, making any long-term deal a risk.
However, Rice has been extremely durable over his four-year career, missing just three games, all in his rookie season. Not only has he been a huge factor on the field, Rice has been extremely active in the community. Just last Friday, Rice played host to an anti-bullying rally in Howard County.
“I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL,” Newsome said. “You’d have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, ‘He’s on our team.’”
Rice made clear on numerous occasions that he wanted to remain in Baltimore long-term, but the deal and negotiations with his agent Todd France took a while to materialize despite two other long-term deals for standout running backs earlier this offseason possibly serving as blueprints.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, who is two years younger than Rice and was a year away from free agency, agreed to a five-year, $45-million deal that includes nearly $21 million in guaranteed money last month. Weeks earlier, the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster agreed to a five-year, $43.5 million pact. On Monday, the Chicago Bears signed franchised running back Matt Forte to a four-year, $32 million deal, leaving Rice as the last running back standing.
As it turned out, Rice’s wait lasted only a couple of more hours, and both sides achieved what they have been seeking all offseason.