Lombardi's Way Want a new Rice deal? Look to Jax for your benchmark!

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We’ve all heard the buzz about how Ray Rice is supposedly seeking Adrian Peterson money. And we all know THAT is not going to happen!

Now any reasonable person should understand that a player’s agent is paid to get the most for their client and in doing so they also maximize their own earnings potential. But for the agent, the deal isn’t just about THAT deal. It’s also about showing the world (an audition of sorts for future prospective clients) that they can be a force at the bargaining table, continually challenging and pushing the earnings bar.

Each new record breaking deal resets the bar and then that new standard becomes the opening discussion point for the next player whose productivity is worthy of comparable pay.

But it can’t always work that way in the NFL. Not with the hard cap teams must comply with. Just because the Vikings struck a very bad deal with Adrian Peterson doesn’t mean the Ravens should do the same for Ray Rice.

And they won’t!

It could actually be argued that Peterson’s deal and to a lesser extent the Titans’ Chris Johnson’s deal are working against Rice because those deals are perfect examples of how vulnerable clubs are to huge contracts when players are hurt or fail to perform to the contract’s level.

And that vulnerability is even greater with running backs who are more susceptible to injury and whose careers are more prone to sudden and sharp declines in productivity.

Making things worse for running backs is how so many clubs can find productive young backs in the draft even in middle rounds. If teams can get productivity out of young players with second and third round contracts it allows them to keep their stars at other impactful positions like quarterback, defensive end, wide receiver and cornerback.

Simply put the NFL salary cap model and rich long-term deals for running backs go together like John Harbaugh and Chris McAlister.

So what is fair for Ray Rice and the club?

Given his stature and low center of gravity defenders can’t get many big hits on Rice. Tacklers have to slow down a bit; break down somewhat in order to tackle the small target efficiently. In many ways he’s comparable to Maurice Jones Drew.

MJD was a second round pick (60th overall) like Rice (55th). MJD is listed at 5’7”, 208 pounds; Rice at 5’8”, 212 pounds. Both are the focus of their respective offenses.

The similarities don’t end there. Consider the stats of each during their first 4 seasons:
Jones Drew 
In 2009 MJD signed an extension which amounted to a new 5 year deal for $31M including $17.5M in guaranteed money. THAT contract should be the benchmark for Ray Rice. Bump the numbers a bit at a pace that exceeds inflation since 2009 and settle on a new 5 year deal for $39M including $22M in guaranteed money.
It’s a fair deal and one that pays Rice more handsomely than a player whose skill set and productivity is nearly a mirror image of Rice’s.
Now if you will excuse me, I have a meeting with Ben Grubbs’ agent Pat Dye.


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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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