Now that Ray Rice is eligible to sign with an NFL team as a free agent, his chances of joining a team this season are not high. While Rice still carries a high profile as far as running backs go, his value as a ballcarrier has been greatly diminished.
Albert Breer of NFL Network points out that his disastrous 2013 season is hurting his chances on top of the baggage that he will bring to his next team (via Twitter). He averaged a dismal 3.0 yards per carry, which raises question about how much he would help a team anyway. Breer notes that the on-field performance is the biggest difference between the cases of Rice and fellow embattled tailback Adrian Peterson (via Twitter). Peterson’s talent and ability does not have the questions attached to it that Rice’s does. NFL teams have always been willing to take chances on players with checkered pasts, but only if their talent justifies it (via Twitter).
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reiterated that he does not believe that Rice will ever play in the NFL again (via Twitter). The public relations nightmare that will come with Rice will be a deterrent for teams, and Freeman believes that the video attached to the running back’s case will be the difference between his case and others in similar situations (via Twitter).
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Rice has stayed in phenomenal shape throughout the process, waiting for the opportunity to play this season. He disagrees with Freeman, saying that if no one signs Rice in the next month, he will be able to find a team during the offseason (via Twitter).
The chances Rice signs with a team after the season are much better than an immediate signing, and Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times believes he will have a team shortly after the Super Bowl (via Twitter). His reasoning is that it will give a new fan base six months to get used to him before he takes the field.
An added wrinkle is that any team that signs Rice will still be defying NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension. If a team were to sign him for the stretch run, it would be “directly slapping Goodell in the face,” according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (via Twitter).
Even still, there are a few potential playoff teams that could be potential landing spots for Rice’s services, writes Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. Among them are the Colts, Cardinals, Falcons, Lions, Broncos, and Chargers. Still, the need would have to outweigh the overwhelming negative publicity that would likely come along with Rice.