Ray Rice is attempting to return to the NFL after his very public domestic violence incident that played out in a New Jersey hotel a little more than a year ago. Aside from his legal issues, Rice is an aging back who was trending downward before missing the entire 2014 season.
However, Rice is willing and able to sign on with a new team. Here are the five most likely landing spots for the former Baltimore Ravens running back.
5. New England Patriots
The Patriots have shown a willingness to gamble on players with off-the-field issues in the past and have had success. Head coach Bill Belichick believes he can get any player to buy into the system, thus eliminating any problems.
In addition, both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are scheduled to become free agents this offseason. If the Patriots can’t re-sign at least one of them, they will be in need of a running back with pass catching abilities. Rice could certainly be that player for them.
4. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers had a revolving door at running back last season. Ryan Mathews showed signs of being a good running back, but injury problems have constantly plagued him in the past. In his five years with the Chargers, he has played a full season just once. Last season he played in a career-low six games and battled multiple injury problems.
Mathews’ absence left the Chargers thin at running back and hurt them offensively. Rice would provide an insurance policy if they run into injury problems again. In addition, he may be able to stay out of the national spotlight in San Diego.
3. Washington Redskins
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder isn’t afraid to make a splash. Last offseason, Snyder brought in wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the midst of him attracting negative national attention.
In addition, the Redskins will probably lose backup running back Roy Helu this offseason to free agency. Rice plays a very similar style as Helu and could fit in nicely in the nation’s capital.
2. Oakland Raiders
With Darren McFadden entering free agency this offseason, the Raiders find themselves in need of a running back. Rice would provide a pass catching option out of the backfield for quarterback Derek Carr if McFadden leaves for another team.
He also could provide some experience if the Raiders were to draft a young running back in the draft this year. One thing is certain — he could definitely stay out of the national spotlight playing for the Raiders.
1. Indianapolis Colts
It’s no secret Trent Richardson has been a complete bust with the Colts. Adding to their problem at running back, Ahmad Bradshaw is an unrestricted free agent and the Colts are unlikely to bring him back after his 2014 season was cut short due to a fractured fibula. That will leave them short at running back and Rice could certainly fill that void.
The Colts actually expressed interest in Rice last season, but decided against signing him during the season. His bond with head coach Chuck Pagano, who served as a Ravens assistant coach during Rice’s time there, increases the likelihood of Indianapolis signing Rice. Pagano could provide a support system that would help Rice integrate back into the NFL after his domestic violence incident.