Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Since my last article on this topic, the Baltimore Ravens’ running game is not looking good as the Ray Rice controversy is expanding as the days go by.
Nothing is certain until all the evidence is released, but the current video tape is pretty convincing — a tape in which Rice is seen dragging his fiancée out of an elevator.
The incident occurred in a casino, so there is no doubt that there is no more footage of what happened. I think I can speculate that the police already have the entire event on video but have not released it or allowed anyone else to release it.
In the desire for an offensive shift for the Ravens, Rice has not helped at all. The Ravens already have much to focus on, and now may have to look at a running back in free agency or the draft.
Ozzie Newsome has said the Ravens will wait until all the evidence comes forward before doing anything further.
No matter what criminal charges there may be, the NFL most likely will deal with Rice on their own through the personal conduct policy.
Then, according to Newsome, the Ravens will address what they will do themselves. As of right now, the Ravens will wait for the evidence to make the conclusion on the incident. But people such as myself are not as likely be waiting for the evidence.
Regarding the “what if” situation of Rice being suspended by the NFL or the Ravens, what does Baltimore do?
Bernard Pierce has had shoulder surgery that will take him out until at least training camp. The Ravens’ third string running back, Cierre Wood, is not the type of back to take over the starting role.
Unless Pierce can come back with little offseason preparation under him, the Ravens will need to make some type of move.
Maurice Jones Drew and Rashard Mendenhall are two notable unrestricted free agents if the Ravens need an experienced short-term replacement for Rice.
I do not expect the Ravens to make an early-round draft of a running back to bring up for the future, unless the Rice situation extends further and he cannot play for the Ravens anymore (which is way off the deep end to actually be discussing).
These free agents could provide the Ravens with a quick fix for the running game, but they should not be a permanent fix. If possible, they could slide into a backup role with Pierce behind Rice.
As you can see, the running back situation is going to get tricky, but it all depends on what happens with Rice.
This certainly does present the picture as to how an NFL team is a team no matter whether it is the offseason or midseason. The choices they make can create turmoil on many different levels for a franchise.
Rice is only starting to do so for the Ravens, but as I have mentioned previously, the Ravens are not new to the offseason curse, so we can only wait it out and hope the situation does not escalate further.
I trust John Harbaugh and Newsome to handle the situation to the best of their ability. Let’s just hope we are not writing more articles on Rice for a while, unless they entail good news.