Browns coach Mike Pettine says his club has discussed signing embattled running back Ray Rice, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes. So far, the Browns are less-than-thrilled with what they’ve seen from second-year players Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West and rookie third-round pick Duke Johnson, and they have kicked around the idea of adding a veteran.
“Of course it’s a natural question here because of [Browns running backs coach] Wilbert [Montgomery], and because I was with Ray when he was a Ravens rookie (in 2008) and know a lot of people in Baltimore,” Pettine said. “Obviously Wilbert was his position coach for Ray’s first six years in the league (2008–13). I’m not going to say it didn’t come up in discussion, but at this point we’re not there yet.”
When asked if Rice’s past would preclude him from being signed in Cleveland, or whether anyone in the Browns organization views him as untouchable as a result, Pettine said he would cross that bridge when he gets to it.
“I don’t think it’s gotten to that point, to say, ‘Hey, I’d kind of be comfortable with it,’” Pettine said. “But I think it would get to that point if we arrived at it from a football standpoint, then asked that question. Instead of working the process backwards. Why bother with asking the question if the need never presents itself?”
The former second-round pick out of Rutgers was one of the more dynamic playmakers in the league in the early stages of his career, piling up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2009 and 2011 and scoring 43 total touchdowns in a Ravens uniform. Outside of his rookie campaign, in which he was the third option in a three-man backfield, he never caught fewer than 58 passes in a season, and he holds a career 4.3 yards per carry average.
But then 2013 happened. The Ravens, fresh off a Super Bowl championship, sputtered miserably on offense, and Rice struggled to the worst statistical season of his career, amassing just 660 yards on 214 carries (3.1 YPC) and reaching the endzone only four times. Less than two months after the season ended, Rice was arrested for the now infamous assault of his then-fiancee (now wife), Janay Palmer. Rice, now 28, has generated very little interest on the free agent market even though he is free to sign with any team.