Ray Rice: I Want To Retire A Raven

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When Ray Rice signed a new five-year contract with the Ravens last week, he immediately jumped in the car and drove back to his hometown of New York.

That was the last time Rice would call New York "home."

"Baltimore has become home to me," Rice said Wednesday after reporting for training camp. "I'm no longer a New Yorker. I just visit there now."

Rice has spent all four of his NFL seasons with the Ravens since they picked him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and after getting areported $35 million commitmentfrom the team, Rice doesn't see himself ever playing anywhere else.

"I want to retire a Raven," Rice said. "That's what it all boils down to. You get this second contract, you think about long-term. That will be nine years of my life that I've been in Baltimore."

With the new contract, Rice said he bought his mother a new house and also plans on relocating himself to a new place in Baltimore.

Rice and the Ravens reached an agreement just minutes before the deadline. The Ravens had previously applied the one-year franchise tag to the running back, which bought them time to negotiate.

When the deal was finally signed, Rice said the two sides "did a great job of finding a bridge where I would be satisfied, but the team would be satisfied as well."

Rice described the contract, which pays him the majority of his guaranteed money during the first three years, as a "fair deal." He also denied reports that said he was asking for a contract in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $100 million deal that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson signed.

"Just to put it out there, I never asked for Adrian Peterson kind of money," Rice said. "I got a fair deal with the Ravens. Everything about it is fair. The way they structured it is fair. At the end of the day, Ozzie told me that, 'I will be able to give you a fair deal.'"

The 25-year-old running back reached the long-term deal in an era where running backs aren't 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 the key to getting his second contract was adjusting his game to fit the pass-first style of the NFL.

Since becoming the starting running back in 2009, Rice has 217 receptions, the most of any Ravens player during that stretch. He believes that versatility was critical in him getting a second deal.

"At the running back position right now, the trend of it, you have to adapt with the game," Rice said. "I think I bring more than just a battering ram… I think that played to my benefit of getting my second contract, that I caught so many passes."

The two-time Pro Bowler is 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.

Locking him up to a long-term contract allows the Ravens to keep a key 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.

Breaking some of Lewis' records is a feasible step for Rice over the next few years.

"It will be great to go out and chase some personal achievements, but it would be even greater to win," Rice said.

Rice said that now the negotiating is behind him, he's looking forward to putting his mind back on football.

"The business side of it is over," Rice said. "Knowing that's over and said and done with, now we can go and chase that championship."

The next big contract for the Ravens to address is quarterback Joe Flacco, who is entering the final season of his rookie deal. The organization has said that they hope to get a deal done before this season, but right now there is no timetable for when that might happen.

Whenever a deal ends up getting done, Rice is confident that Flacco will be his quarterback for years to come.

"He's going to be a Raven for a long time," Rice said. "I know at the end of the day he's going to get taken care of."

The start of training camp marks the first official team activity that Rice has participated in since February. He never signed the franchise tag, so he wasn't able to participate in any of the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) or minicamp.

"It was tough being away," Rice said. "I always know how to keep myself in shape. I probably wouldn't have to be at every single thing, but I would have loved to be at some things that were important, like minicamp, the first week of OTAs, to gel with the guys. But the most important thing is that I'm here for training camp."

Rice was adamant throughout the offseason that he would be in shape whenever he did report.

He said he feels good now, but he is looking forward to actually getting back on the practice field.

"There is no substitute for a live defense or a live drill," Rice said. "There is no replacement for playing football, other than playing football. That's exciting for me to get back out there and play again."

And most importantly, he and the Ravens organization are most pleased with knowing that he'll be in the purple and black for at least the next five years.

"When I signed, it was a relief," Rice said. "There's nothing like playing for one team, for one organization."

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