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Ravens May Not Be Able to Afford Both Ray Rice and Ben Grubbs

In one of the most anticipated off-seasons in a very long time due to a record number of free agents in 2012, and many of those being high profile players looking for big money contracts, the anticipation leading up to March 13 is becoming palpable with rumors swirling about players and teams showing their cards by who they decide, or don't decide, to franchise. One of the sought after free agents in the 2012 off-season is Baltimore's Ray Rice. Rice is one of the best all-around backs in the league and is a threat every time he touches the ball. Rice finished last year with 1,364 yards (career high), 12 touchdowns (career high), 704 receiving yards (career high), and 3 receiving touchdowns (career high).

Rice had career numbers this past season along with leading his team to the AFC championship and missing out on the Superbowl because of a missed kick by Billy Cundiff. After Rice's season, as expected by many commentators, Rice wants to get paid. No one could blame Rice for wanting a nine figure contract (yes, you read that right), and the Ravens would be silly to not pay him what he wants. Knowing Joe Flacco's inconsistency behind the line, the first thing John Harbaugh should do is make sure his workhorse is happy and in a Ravens uniform. As a Bengals fan, I would love to see him playing for a team that is not in the AFC North, but I could see being just as happy if he is re-signed. "Why," you ask?

If the Ravens re-sign Rice to a contract comparable to Peterson, they will not have any cap room to re-sign OG Ben Grubbs.

The Ravens are only 8.5 million under the cap and after signing Rice to an Adrian Peterson-like contract (7yr/100+mil.) that would put them over the cap and, likely, leaving them with little-to-no choice but to not re-sign Grubbs to a new contract. If Grubbs is one of the better guards in the NFL, then he could sign for anywhere from $3-4.5 million per year because that is the average salary range for the middle-to-upper class of NFL guards. If Grubbs asked Baltimore for anything near that, they would have no choice but to let him go to sign with another team.

It is well documented that the Bengals are in need of an offensive guard because of the (likely) departures of back-ups Mike McGlynn and Nate Livings, and Bobbie Williams coming off of an injury and being 35 years old. Adding Grubbs and drafting an OG would give the Bengals a nice outlook for the future of their offensive line and would, possibly, solidify their offensive line for quite a few years to come.

There is no question that the Bengals have the cap space and the ability to sign Grubbs to what he wants. The only thing stopping them would be their own frugality. This is an obvious issue that has plagued the Bengals from keeping/signing free agents in the past, but $60 million in cap space might persuade the Bengals' front office to be a bit more liberal with their finances and set their talented, young offense, led by Andy Dalton, up to lead the Bengals deep into the postseason next year.

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