|Rice isn't happy about his tag. (Will Brinson, CBSSports.com)|
Rice also told CBSSports.com he hasn't currently signed his franchise tag and when asked if he would sign the tag, didn't indicate any immediate plans to do so.
"Ummmmm … agent discussions," Rice, smiling a little bit, said when asked if he would sign the tag. "Nah, we're waiting to see what's up [before signing the tender]. We just have to figure out what's best for me and my family right now. I want to be a part of the offseason program, I want to be a part of the team and obviously this works on both ends. I think progress is being made. I know things don't happen overnight, but a lot of things can change in weeks, months, time. So when it happens, it happens."
Rice pointed to his coming into 2011 "in the best shape of his life" as proof that the offseason programs aren't "a necessity," and said that while he he wants to be there with his teammates, it definitely wasn't a given that he'd show up without a new deal.
"No one ever had to worry about me being in shape," Rice said. "We had a lockout last offseason and I came back in the best shape in my life. I came back to training camp in the best shape of my life. I came back to training camp with new guys and still made the Pro Bowl. Being at the offseason program, I want to be there with the guys, but it's not a necessity for me."
So what happens from here? Well, it would make sense for both sides to work out a deal before the season begins. Rice likes Baltimore and it's hard to imagine that Baltimore doesn't like Rice. But here's the problem: how much is he worth?
I asked Rice about the report that he wanted "Adrian Peterson money" and Rice said that wasn't true. (Rice also said that "maybe you want Adrian Peterson money,' and he is absolutely correct about that. Ahem, bosses.)
"I have an agent and he deals with all of that," Rice said. "But I don't think 'Adrian Peterson money' was the number."
Rice knows what he's worth, though, and believes that he should get paid as well as any other running back who's been handsomely rewarded in recent years, particularly if that running back hasn't produced the way Rice has on the field.
"You look at the guys who got paid. I didn't set the numbers. There are guys that have comparable numbers to me -- or guys who my stats are better than -- who are making more money than me," Rice told CBSSports.com. "It's out there, it's a given. And for the last three years since I became a starter, the numbers don't even compare. I don't even go into the numbers -- I play the game. That's why you pay agents.
"But I didn't set the number for running back. I didn't set the standard. But there are other guys who got paid before me, and after me … and I got respect for every running back in the league, but if you look at my stats compared to theirs? It's not even a comparison."