Is your NFL team struggling to run the ball? If so a big name free agent just became available. But is his projected production worth the multitude of risks?
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice won his appeal of an indefinite suspension and has been reinstated to the NFL. Rice can now sign with any team that is willing to take him, and there’s always at least 1 team willing to take the risk(I’m looking at you Raiders.) But is Ray Rice the player worth it?
There are obvious hesitations that teams have about signing Rice. The public perception of Rice is at an all time low. Any team that takes on Rice will be welcoming a media frenzy that coaches may worry will cause a distraction for teams in the middle of a playoff push. Not to mention, said team would then be found guilty in the court of public opinion of endorsing Rice’s actions against his now wife. That’s a lot to ask of a team in week 13 and onward this year.
But even without the distraction, is Rice still a top running back in the NFL? Last season Rice only ran for 660 yards and 4 scores, playing in 15 games. Those numbers were the lowest of Rice’s career since his rookie season(when he only started 4 games.) Rice did add 321 receiving yards but that also was below his regular output. Rice also posted the lowest yards per carry and yards per reception averages of his career. So what we have here is a running back with off the field issues and coming off of his worst season before missing the entire 2014 season to date. But again there’s a team out there that will take a flier on him.
There are obvious suitors like Oakland, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Tennessee who need any kind of spark to jump start their struggling run games. But the best place Rice could possibly land is a place no body wants to see him, New England. Of course its cliched by now that the struggling player with a history could regain his form with the Patriots. But there’s reason for it. Bill Belichick has an uncanny ability to squash the media and Rice would fit right with what the Pats are doing as they run by committee, which would help preserve whatever gas Rice has left in the tank. Of course this is all speculation, but Rice is out there and teams will be looking.