Friday night, Ray Rice was involved in a physical altercation with his fiancé at an Atlantic City casino. Both Rice and his fiancé, Janay Palmer, were arrested on “simple assault charges” and released on summons.
I’m not going to speculate on the severity of this incident. It’s obviously very ugly and something Rice will have to face the consequences for. We will wait until more details are released until we start discuss the situation itself further. But a domestic dispute is a terrible thing and Rice has a lot to lose in the aftermath of this. He does a lot of local television ads and ironically enough is heavily involved in anti-bullying campaigns.
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Where Rice stands to potentially lose even more is his role on the Ravens going forward and the hit to his wallet. Sure we hope this is an isolated incident, Rice goes through the counseling process, faces the music and this whole mess can go away some time in the future. Certainly not near future. That just won’t happen. But the Ravens could also look at this as inexcusable behavior and cut ties with their six year veteran running back.
Again, I’m not going to weigh the severity of one crime over another, especially when all the details aren’t exposed. I’m not going to say that what Rice did is less severe that what other players who have lost their jobs due to criminal activity have done.
If the Ravens chose to go that the path of cutting ties with Rice in order to save face with the league and more importantly the fan base, it would be a huge hit to their salary cap.
Ray Rice is due $4M in base salary in 2014 which he would not receive if released. His prorated bonuses make him an $8.75M hit against the salary cap. Rice has three years left on his current contract and three years of prorated bonus money on the books that must be accounted for against the cap no matter what. That bonus money, $9M in signing bonus, $5.25M in option bonus, adds up to $14.25M.
If the Ravens we’re to cut Rice prior to June 1st, all $14.25M would count against this seasons salary cap. If they wait until after June 1st to cut Rice, they can split the cap hit over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, $7.125M each season. It would be a mere $1.625M in cap savings for the upcoming season.
There are ways the Ravens could have some of that guaranteed money taken off the books to have more cap space according to a Standard player conduct clause. This was how the Patriots received some relief from the Aaron Hernandez incident.
The Ravens would have to feel that Rice is truly a detriment to this team in order to deal with the imposed dead money against the cap rather than employ him.