North Notes: Rice, Ravens, Shanahan

Four teams have expressed interest in former Ravens running back Ray Rice, writes ESPN’s Adam Schefter. One of those four teams, the Colts, have recently stated that they are not interested in signing the newly-reinstated Rice at this time. The Saints were the other team identified in Schefter’s report–the other two clubs said to have interest were unnamed–but SportsCenter staff, citing Schefter, later tweeted that the Saints, like the Colts, are not expected to pursue Rice.

Those who believe Rice will not play again this season, if at all, most frequently support their position by citing the obvious public relations ramifications that a team signing Rice would have to face. However, as Schefter points outs, there is also a sizable on-field concern to consider. One AFC running backs coach, speaking to Schefter’s colleague Josina Anderson, noted that the speed with which Rice would pick up a new offense could pose a problem. The coach said:

“Some guys learn faster than others. They just do. I don’t know what kind of shape he’s in. There are a bunch of different things. He’s going to have to get into shape, clearly because he hasn’t been hitting this year. You would think there would be some carryover … but he is a good player. He is a good player.”

So while it still seems more likely than not that Rice will not suit up in 2014, the recent interest in his services suggests that there could still be a match between Rice and a playoff contender.

Now for a few more items from the league’s north divisions:

  • Although we took a look at this mailbag from’s Jamison Hensley yesterday, one item of note that should be passed along is Hensley’s belief that the Ravens will reward surprise contributors Justin Forsett and Will Hill with two- or three-year deals with a modest bonus during the offseason.
  • Tony Grossi of writes that Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will garner at least some interest from the six (or more) teams that will likely be looking for a new head coach after this season. Although it may take another year or two of interviews before Shanahan lands a head coaching job, it does appear that he will make that leap in fairly short order.
  • Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel, in anticipation of today’s much-anticipated matchup between the Packers and Patriots, describes the different approaches that those two clubs take to roster construction and notes that Green Bay is relying on the type of players that New England head coach Bill Belichick may have already given up on.
  • Ben Goessling of believes left guard is the spot on the Vikings offensive line where a change is most likely.
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