The Baltimore Ravens are facing a multitude of tough roster decisions this offseason. They are yet to arrive at a deal to extend important free agents Dennis Pitta or Eugene Monroe and now to heap upon their issues is the conundrum of what to do with running back Ray Rice.
Rice had a disappointing 2013, coming off the back of a Super Bowl victory in 2012. The former Rutgers back had just 660 yards rushing, his lowest since 2008, as the Ravens struggled to move the ball offensively.
The six-year veteran would probably have been kept on the roster by performance alone, he was not the only offensive player to have struggled last season after all.
Newly installed offensive co-ordinator, Gary Kubiak said recently that the Ravens would stick with Rice:
"I think as he goes, we'll go," Kubiak told the Ravens' official website. "Our goal is to get him going, and he's excited to get going and put last year behind him."
Rice also has three years left on a five-year deal and is due to receive $4 million in 2014. He would be an expensive cut for a team with little cap wiggle room.
However, his recent legal troubles have brought doubt on his direct future. A summons decided yesterday that he was guilty of assaulting his fiance during a recent trip to Atlantic City. It is not yet clear what this would mean for Rice in terms of jail time or future punishment but it does not look good for the three-time Pro Bowler.
At a press conference earlier in the week, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said that Rice was still a part of their plans: "When I left my office 20 minutes ago, and John [Harbaugh] had probably been in there probably 15 minutes before then, Ray Rice was still a big part of what we plan to do in 2014,"
Whether that will remain the case in the coming weeks remains to be seen.