Well this is some new news. A sudden turn of events has the once-doomed Ray Rice looking at a possible return to football before the end of the calendar year.
CBS’s Jason La Canfora has some insight on the newly changed situation:
“Former Ravens running back Ray Rice remains suspended indefinitely following the publication of the video of him striking his now-wife, Janay, in a casino elevator, but he could be reinstated within the next four weeks, sources said.”
The first question here is IF the former Super Bowl winning running back could even get signed if he was reinstated. While his talent is not questioned, his controversy and possible PR backlash make him somewhat distasteful to teams that aren’t looking for that kind of negative attention. It is true that Rice has had his issues and made his mistakes, and that will shy off more than a few teams who could use depth at running back, but some teams can’t afford passing this kind of talent up, if he is indeed reinstated.
There have been two teams in just the last week that have had their running back talent stripped of them by injury. Both Miami and New England have lost Knowshon Moreno and Stevan Ridley, respectively. Both these guys were the best runners in their pool and were having pretty good seasons – good enough to where their presence will be severely missed.
But also, both teams have guys that have really stepped up in the absence of their previous starters.
Lamar Miller, a high draft choice a few years ago out of the University of Miami, has been on a tear for the ‘Phins recently. He has not dipped below 46 yards rushing in a game this year, has accumulated 3 rushing scores, and has been present in the pass game, with 15 catches and another score.
Shane Vereen of New England has been doing what he does all season, but really stepped up Thursday night against the Jets, rushing for over 40 yards and receiving for over 70 and two scores. Cumulatively, he has 259 rush yards and 185 receiving yards along with three touchdowns over the course of the season.
While Ray Rice couldn’t come in and replace these guys (they have both secured the starting roles in their offenses), he could supply the teams with a whole new weapon. Ray Rice fits perfectly into both systems.
In Miami, he would serve as a power back, where as Lamar Miller fits more of a speed back role. This means goal line / short yardage opportunities would be Rice’s for the taking.
In New England, Rice’s skills in the passing game would be on full display. While Vereen already is the pass catching specialist when it comes to their running backs, you can never have too many weapons for Tom Brady. Rice is also more of a true runner than both Vereen and Branden Bolden, the current #2 in New England.
Those two injury struck teams aren’t the only two that could use a talent like Rice, though.
Denver is on their emergency backup plan in Ronnie Hillman.
Kansas City is one more Jamaal Charles knee injury away from needing another longtime solution next to Knile Davis.
Carolina is ravaged by injuries, so much so that they have relied on an undrafted free agent (Darren Reaves) and two former Browns (and Texas grads) Fozzy Whittaker and Chris Ogbonnaya to supply their run game.
Arizona is a legitimate contender who could use an upgrade at running back or someone to split time with speedster Andre Ellington.
Rice has options once (or IF) he gets back. Any of the above listed six teams would likely show interest.
What do you think? Where do you think Ray Rice could end up if reinstated this season?
Featured image via REUTERS/Sean Gardner