Ravens franchise Rice
The Baltimore Ravens have placed the franchise tag on running back Ray Rice, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent this month.
Rice's rookie contract was about to expire and the franchise designation will pay the former Rutgers star roughly $7.7 million in 2012, although the two sides can still work toward a long-term deal.
"As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract," said Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome in a statement. "Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We've done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago."
Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last year with 2,068 and ran for a career-high 1,364 yards with 12 touchdowns. He also caught 76 passes for 704 yards with three more scores, earning a Pro Bowl nod for the second time.
The 25-year-old has been a 1,000-yard runner in each of the last three years and has 4,377 rushing yards with 24 touchdowns in his four-year career.
Baltimore also released wide receiver Lee Evans and cornerback Chris Carr.
Evans, acquired from Buffalo last year for a fourth-round pick, appeared in just nine games and started two because of injuries. He had just four receptions for 74 yards.
The 30-year-old veteran spent his first seven seasons with the Bills and twice was a 1,000-yard receiver.
Carr, who signed a four-year deal in July, was also limited to just nine games because of injury.
Newsome said the club won't rule out re-signing both players.