Originally posted on NFL News & Rumors  |  Last updated 2/19/12

It’s a foregone conclusion that Ravens running back Ray Rice will be playing in Baltimore again next fall, but all signs seem to be pointing towards a protracted and elongated negotiation between the two sides, with the franchise tag likely to be used in the process.

According to Jeff Zrebiec and Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are expected to place the tag on Rice sometime next week, buying themselves time to work out a long term contract while they address other needs in the free agency period.

Being the franchise tag designee will guarantee Rice a salary of approximately $7.7 million, ranking him third among active running backs in base salary behind Adrian Peterson ($8 million) and Chris Johnson ($8 million).

There is something to be said, however, for having long term stability, and Rice is like most every other player in wanting to put together a lengthy contract sooner rather than later. The shorter longevity of the average running back in the NFL definitely would seem to play a larger role in Rice’s decision making process, as the risks involved in playing an entire season without any future with the team guaranteed outweigh the larger annual salary.

That said, it’s unlikely that Rice would consider holding out as of right now, and the Ravens seem to be intent on putting together a solid long team deal for Rice eventually, but the possibility remains that the discussions could turn difficult if the two sides are farther apart than expected.

©2012 NFL News & Rumors. All Rights Reserved.

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