Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 2/20/12

Today is the first day that NFL teams have the ability to apply the franchise tag to players. Each team is only allowed one franchise tag, which locks up a select player in a one year contract.

One of the big name free agents-to-be is Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice, coming off of his fourth year in the league, would be the hottest running back free agent should he not sign with the Ravens. SI's Peter King gave us some insight on the Ray Rice contract negotiations in a recent report.

I'm hearing Rice wants an Adrian Peterson-type of contract; Peterson signed a seven-year deal worth up to $100 million last September, with the major provision that he'll make $40 million in the first three years. I don't see the Ravens doing that for Rice. I see them, if they can't do a new deal, using the reasonable franchise tag of $7.7 million for running backs on Rice.

To add even more to the Ray Rice debate, I'd be shocked if anyone paid Ray Rice the kind of money he's looking for. With just 1,364 yards, he just won't command anything resembling a $100 million contract for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, 1,364 yards is a lot, but it's not that much. He's among the best runners in the NFL, but running backs don't generally command huge contracts like Peterson did.

That brings us to the second reason no one will pay Ray Rice as much as he wants. Running backs just aren't that big of a deal in today's NFL. Adrian Peterson is special. You pay special players big money. Ray Rice is good, very good, but not that good. There's a very limited market of teams willing to drop massive amounts of cash on a running back. Most teams would rather spend that money on improving their passing attack or pass defense. It's that simple.

All that being the case, Ray Rice will probably be sticking around Baltimore. Applying the franchise tag to Ray Rice would cost the Ravens $7.7 million, and that's a price I think the Ravens are willing to pay. Ray Rice is a game changing running back in the right system, and the Ravens have built a team around the premise of running the ball, controlling the flow of the game, and dominating the opposition with a staunch defensive unit. That's the type of team Ray Rice will continue to excel in, and that seems to be where he'll be for the foreseeable future.

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