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Schefter: Ravens plan to franchise Rice

The Ravens plan to use the franchise tag on running back Ray Rice, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported today. Rice, 24, is in the last year of his rookie contract that pays him $555,000 this season.

If the Ravens end up franchising Rice after the season, it wouldn't come as a shock for a couple of reasons. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said last March that he expects the team to start negotiations on a contract extension with quarterback Joe Flacco after this season. Baltimore might not want to hand out two large signing bonuses to offensive players in the same offseason (although this plan might have changed with Flacco's struggles this season).

Another factor in the decision is the amount to pay Rice. Since 2009, when he became a full-time starter, Rice has produced 25 games of at least 100 yards of total offense. That tops Adrian Peterson (23) and Chris Johnson (22). So, most likely, Rice will want a contract similar to them particularly Johnson (four years, $53.5 million, including $30 million guaranteed). And the Ravens might want to wait another year before giving Rice that type of a deal.

Rice said in July that he wants to stay with the Ravens, who drafted him in the second round in 2008.

"I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to stay in Baltimore," he said before training camp began. "I’ve done right by them. I’m hoping one day that we're all right for each other and make it a long-term deal."