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NFL Quick Hits: Ray Rice, Troy Polamalu, Santonio Holmes & more

Every Sunday our NFL columnist Anthony Stalter provides his quick-hits from the week that was in the NFL.

+ The Ravens had no choice but to sign Ray Rice to a long-term contract, and the deal wound up being fair for both sides. Rice will receive $8 million per year, which is more than fair for his production level. The Bears were also wise to sign Matt Forte but had Chicago rolled the dice and Forte wound up holding out, at least the Bears still have Michael Bush to fall back on, as well as an improved passing game that features Brandon Marshall. Had the Ravens not signed Rice and he held out into the season, Baltimore would have relied on the backfield duo of Joe Flacco and Anthony Allen. Yikes.

+ Troy Polamalu gave the media and fans a very honest, very realistic look into the world of the NFL by telling Dan Patrick earlier this week that he’s lied to trainers about injuries so that he could stay in games. Nobody should be under any grand illusions that Polamalu is the only player that has lied about whether or not he was hurt so that he could re-enter a game and in some respects, he should be lauded for providing reality into the situation. The problem, of course, is that there’s a list of former players that filed a suit against the NFL trying to prove that the league is responsible for not telling them about the dangers of concussions. It’s going to be hard for these players to prove to a judge that the NFL has been negligent about anything when current players are lying about their injuries to get back into games. That said, the game has changed, especially when it comes to the treatment of concussions (which were once viewed as a joke by teams and players). Still, the players on these concussion suit can’t exactly be thrilled by Polamalu’s comments, no matter how honest he was being.

+ Who knew Santonio Holmes was such a comedian? During a recent podcast for NFL.com, Holmes essentially scolded the New York media for being too negative when it comes to reporting on the team and then told them that if they wanted to feel important, they should only report on the positive aspect of the Jets. First off, I didn’t realize that the New York Jets cut the paychecks for the staff at the New York Post. I also didn’t realize that the Post was supposed to be a group comprised of cheerleaders that provided unwavering support for the Jets. Holmes’ comments are laughable and he’s one to talk considering back in October of last year he called out his entire offensive line for not giving Mark Sanchez enough time to throw. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black – if Holmes wants the media to be positive he should start by being positive himself.

+ Another week, another slew of arrests for the NFL. Marshawn Lynch was booked for driving under the influence after weaving lane to lane with two near collisions. What’s interesting is that the mistake could wind up costing Lynch $17 million in guaranteed money because as an NFL exectuvie tells Sirius XM Radio’s Ross Tucker, a suspension for conduct detrimental or substance abuse defaults the guaranteed money in Lynch’s four-year, $31 million contract. Now, there’s a good chance that the Seahawks won’t touch Lynch’s money but if they did, not calling a cab will have cost the running back $17 million. Ouch.

+ Of course, Lynch wasn’t the only player arrested recently. Elvis Dumervil, Dez Bryant, Robert Quinn, Kenny Britt and Aaron Berry all ran afoul from the law from everything from driving drunk to assault with a firearm to smacking their mother around (in the case of Bryant). Granted, it’s not as if NFL players are the only ones committing crimes. We just hear about them because of their celebrity status. But it’s almost unfathomable that these players refuse to learn from their peers and in the specific case of Britt, how one player can be arrested so many times since coming into the league. This is a guy that has been booked four times in the last two offseasons; it’s unbelievable. These players are essentially co-workers that continue to ignore the endless supply of warning signs that are around them. Front offices must be praying nightly that they don’t receive phone calls at two in the morning from now until training camp opens.

+ If Norv Turner had one foot out the door last year then he’s got about three fingertips on the door frame heading into this season. It was surprising that the Chargers didn’t fire him last year considering the Chargers couldn’t take advantage of the hot mess that was the AFC West. Regardless, he absolutely has to win this season and not just one playoff game – he better be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl. That said, why should Turner get whacked and A.J. Smith be saved? When was the last time A.J. Smith hit a home run in the draft? And because he plays hardball with free agents his talent is evaporating on both sides of the ball. So if Turner gets axed then he and Smith should be sharing a cab out of San Diego.

+ It was pretty smart of the Jets to include a “poison pill” in Darrelle Revis contract. Rex Ryan and Mike Tannebaum were clearly annoyed with Revis’ holdout situation a couple of years ago and were hell-bent that a repeat wasn’t in the works. Revis announced earlier this week that he’ll report to camp on time this year, although it may not have been on his own accord. According to a report earlier this week by ESPN.com’s James Walker, if Revis skips camp his current deal would be automatically extended by three years. Considering Revis wants to get to free agency as quickly as possible, that would not have been a very favorable situation for him.

+ You have to appreciate Michael Vick’s confidence in the Eagles. Said Vick earlier this week, “When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there I think we have a chance to be that. I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty.” Obvious Vick’s comments shouldn’t be overexposed because he was really just trying to convey his optimism in his current team. But dynasty? Try winning one Super Bowl before you claim you’re on the path of winning multiple Super Bowls.

+ How about Terrell Owens? Dude claimed he was broke a couple of months ago but faced with the prospect of going to prison, all of a sudden he had enough money to pay back the child support that he owed. Funny how that works.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Ravens, Rice in a tough spot when it comes to contract talks

Ten years ago you didn’t think twice about paying a versatile player like Ray Rice top market value. Given his age, his production, and his contribution in an offense, a team wouldn’t balk at his price tag.

But times are a changing.

Rice is believed to be seeking $10 million a year from the Baltimore Ravens, who are reportedly unwilling to pay their top offensive piece Adrian Peterson-type money. AP just signed a seven-year, $96 million extension with the Vikings last September and the deal includes $36 million in guaranteed money. In that same month, Chris Johnson signed a six-year, $55.26 million deal with the Titans that also included $30 million in guarantees.
Seeing as how Peterson tore his ACL and Johnson produced his worst season as a pro, you can understand why the Ravens are hesitant to pay Rice what he wants. The other issue is that running backs aren’t worth what they were 10, or even seven years ago. Nowadays, most teams believe that investing big money in a running back is unnecessary given how you can find a productive back in the middle rounds of the draft. Plus, by the time backs are 30 their production dips dramatically and they prove they’re not worth the investment.

That said, Rice shouldn’t be criticized for trying to cash in during his prime. As previously noted, he’s been an extremely productive back and for all intents and purposes, has been the entire Baltimore offense at times. NFL players have a very small window in which to be productive and get that long-term contract before the game pushes them out. Rice is merely protecting his biggest investment (himself) and in no way is that intended to make him sound selfish.

But unfortunately for Rice, he also plays running back in a passing era. No team, not even the Ravens after having a front row seat to his splendor over the last four years, is going to pay a running back $10 million a year. That’s just the way it is.

So what’s the solution? Rice should take a long, hard look at the contract LeSean McCoy just signed with the Eagles. “Shady” received a six-year, $45.615 million contract that also includes $20.765 million in guaranteed money. While McCoy is “only” making $7.5 million a year, the guaranteed portion of the contract is what really matters. No, Rice wouldn’t receive $30-plus million in guaranteed money like Peterson or Johnson, but $20 million for a running back in this era wouldn’t be chump change either.

If you’re Rice, you would hate to feel like your compromising but he and his agent must realize that he’s not going to get a deal worth $10 million a year, which also includes with $30 million in guarantees. All things being considered, McCoy’s contract should be what Rice his ultimately shooting for.

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