Asked Wednesday if there was any conceivable way he could sign with another team after this season, Ravens running back Ray Rice didnt sound like someone who might be on the move.
I dont think Ill be going anywhere. That I can reassure, Rice said during his weekly podium session with reporters at Owings Mills. Theres nothing I would think that I would be anywhere else. I love it here, and I think the city, the team, the whole organization, they feel the same way.
Rice, 24, could become a free agent after this season, as the four-year contract he signed before his rookie season is expiring.
Currently ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing and first in total yards from scrimmage, he is in line for a mega-raise. Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, whose stats are similar, signed a six-year, 55.26 million contract in September.
The Ravens have a history of locking up their best players to longterm deals, although it has taken several years in some cases and forced the team to apply the franchise designation to players.
If the Ravens cant agree to a deal with Rice after this season, they could retain him for 2012 by making him their franchise player; he would sign a one-year deal paying him the average of the five highest-paid players at his position.
But their goal is to sign him to a long-term deal, and Rice seemingly has the same goal. Rice told the NFL Network last week that he definitely thinks he will remain in Baltimore after this season.
Our organization is a first-class organization, Rice said in the NFL Network interview. Theyve always did a good job of keeping their star players around and I think Ill be one of the guys that in the offseason or whenever it is. I figure if you take care of the game, the game will take care of you, and Ill be a Baltimore Raven next year.
Offensive guard Ben Grubbs, one of the teams top linemen, will also be a free agent after this season, and quarterback Joe Flacco, entering the final year of his original five-year deal in 2012, has talked about getting a new deal done.
But Rice will be a priority, not that he is thinking about his contract now.
No. 1, I respect my teammates and I dont want to bring my personal decisions, my personal life, into the locker room, Rice said. I have enough respect for my teammates and this organization to keep it that way. And No. 2, were winning. If you love the game enough, you enjoy winning enough, you appreciate the situation. You live by it.
I'll just let my numbers and everything else pan out in the offseason. Im sure it will be dealt with.
Follow John Eisenberg on Twitter at @CSNEisenberg