OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens are expected to designate Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice as their franchise player on Friday.
The NFL deadline to use the tag is March 5.
Rice has long been expecting to receive a $7.7 million franchise tag, and now the Times has learned it’s about to happen.
Rice’s agent, Todd France, met with team officials at the NFL scouting combine and came away expecting the team to use the tag to prevent the former Rutgers star from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Under rules governing franchise players, the Ravens have until the middle of July to negotiate a long-term deal.
If a franchise player is unable to work out a long-term deal by July 15, then the player can only play under the terms of their one-year tender for the upcoming season.
"The meeting went fine," France told 24×7. "We obviously know the tag is coming, but we will continue to have open dialogue and see if we can come to a long-term agreement, which is the preference for both sides."
The Ravens have a history of working out deals with players after using the franchise tag, including former cornerback Chris McAlister and Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
Rice led the NFL last season with 2,068 total yards from scrimmage, rushing for a career-high 1,364 yards and a dozen touchdowns while also catching 76 passes for 704 yards and three touchdowns.
Rice, 25, broke the Ravens’ single-season record with 15 total touchdowns.
In four NFL seasons, the diminutive former Rutgers star has rushed for 4,377 career yards and 24 touchdowns. He has caught 250 passes for 2,235 yards and five touchdowns.
"Yeah, I definitely prefer long-term over franchise tag,” Rice told 24×7 days after the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots. "I’m not going to complain about the franchise tag, either. It puts yourself in a position where you play that year out and guys have done it, but I prefer the long-term. That’s what Baltimore, the city, the fans, they would love to know that Ray Rice is going to be here, not just one year, but for many years to come.”