Ray Rice never saw himself leaving Baltimore.
He won't have to worry about leaving anytime soon.
Rice and the Ravens agreed to a five-year contract on Monday just before the 4 p.m. franchise deadline, agreeing in principle to a five-year deal.
"Baltimore I'm back well I never left lol #Ravens," Rice tweeted.
It came down to the final minutes.
Rice's agent, Todd France, was still negotiating with General Manager Ozzie Newsome as the two drove to the team's facility in Owings Mills, Md.
They entered the building at about 3:15 p.m. and finally faxed the deal to the league with about 10 minutes to spare, France told WNST tells Glenn that his client was prepared to hold out in training camp and regular season had deal not been signed).
"This is another example of Steve Bisciotti's commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.
"Ray has been an integral part of us earning the playoffs in each of his four seasons, and that includes helping us get to two AFC championship games. His production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding."
The deal is reportedly worth $35 million with $5 million in performance incentives for a max of $40 million , according to the NFL Network's Albert Breer, making Rice one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL.
He reportedly will get $17 million in the first year of the contract and $25 million over the first two seasons. CBSSports' Jason La Canfora reports that $24 million is guaranteed.
Rice left the team facility without talking to the media to celebrate the news with his family.
An agreement was helped by Chicago signing it's franchised running back Matt Forte to a four-year deal worth a reported $32 million just hours before Rice.
Signing the fifth-year running back to a new contract was one of the Ravens' top offseason priorities. If the team hadn't signed Rice, he would have had to play under the franchise for the entire year, and he and quarterback Joe Flacco could have been unrestricted free agents during the same offseason in 2013.
With a new contract in hand, Rice will be back on the field for training camp starting July 25, his first official team activity since last season ended.
France said that the plan was for Rice to sit out all of training camp if a deal hadn't been struck and they were "actually committed to missing some games."
Locking up Rice to a long-term contract allows the Ravens to keep a driver of their offense and perhaps the best running back in franchise history. Rice currently ranks second in team history with 4,377 rushing yards, trailing only Jamal Lewis.
Since becoming a starter in 2009, the former second-round draft pick out of Rutgers has rushed for 3,923 yards, 24 touchdowns and made two Pro Bowls.
He's coming off the best season of his career, where he collected a league leading 2,068 yards from scrimmage and accounted for 16 touchdowns – 12 rushing, three receiving and one throwing.
Rice, 25, reached the long-term deal in an era where running backs aren't nearly as valued as they once were in the NFL. The bruising running backs take throughout the season can leave a toll on their bodies, but Rice believes that the best is still yet to come with him.
"Obviously it's a little bit harder to invest in a running back because of the wear and tear," he said earlier this offseason. "But I'm 25 years old with a full head of steam, still learning the game, still getting better."
Below are contract details for other RB contracts as a point of reference to see where Rice ranks:
- Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million, $20.8 million guaranteed)
- LeSean McCoy (five years, $45.6 million, $20.8 million guaranteed)
- Chris Johnson (four years, $53.5 million, $30 million guaranteed)
- Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million, $36 million guaranteed)
- Matt Forte (four years, $32 million, $18 million guaranteed)
- Ray Rice (five years, $40 million, $24 million guaranteed)
Rice has been forthcoming about his desire to remain a Raven, as he has become very tied to the community since arriving in 2008.
He didn't talk about his contract last season, refusing to put it ahead of playing football. He again sidestepped questions while at an anti-bullying campaign this past weekend in Columbia, Md.
"I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL," Newsome said. "You'd have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, 'He's on our team.'"
- Staff Writer Garrett Downing contributed to this report