The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be taking a hard look at Ray Rice to see if the embattled running back can solve the team’s backfield conundrum.
Through the early days of training camp the Browns have had difficulty in the backfield, with none of their running back candidates standing up to seize the job. The situation has grown so desperate that the team is reportedly looking at signing Ray Rice, who remains a free agent after his domestic abuse arrest and ensuing scandal last season.
Rice would seem to be a good fit with Cleveland. The Browns’ running backs coach, Wilbert Montgomery, was Rice’s position coach in Baltimore from 2008 until 2013. Browns head coach Mike Petting was also an assistant with the Ravens through 2009.
Pettine said the team has “discussed” the idea of signing Ray Rice but haven’t progressed beyond that yet.
“Of course it’s a natural question here because of Wilbert, and because I was with Ray when he was a Ravens rookie and know a lot of people in Baltimore,” coach Mike Pettine told SI.com. “Obviously Wilbert was his position coach for Ray’s first six years in the league. I’m not going to say it didn’t come up in discussion, but at this point we’re not there yet.”
Though Rice saw his production drop off in the last two seasons, the Browns could use his veteran presence among a stable of young and inexperienced players.
The Browns haven’t been able to find a feature back yet this preseason. Terrance West has been held back by a calf strain, and Browns rookie Duke Johnson is out with a hamstring injury. The injuries have given a chance to Isaiah Crowell, but he’s failed to impress. The situation is so desperate that Montgomery called out the running backs, saying “nobody wants the role” as starter.
The Cleveland Browns aren’t the only team rumored to be interested in Ray Rice. NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, analysts Mike Florio and Rodney Harrison recently discussed the Dallas Cowboys’ running back situation, with Harrison saying Rice could be a good fit.
“Give Ray Rice a try,” Harrison said. “Give him an opportunity.”
Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle said he thinks the Cowboys’ in-state counterparts the Texans should ignore Rice’s stigma and give him a workout.
“The Moral High Ground is a fascinating place,” he wrote. “It can be a mountain or a molehill, depending on the day of the week, and it is almost always crowded with horrendous traffic, thanks to so many passing through.”
If the rumors about the Cleveland Browns signing Ray Rice turn out to be true, the team would be bringing in a player used to beating up on them. In 12 career games against the Browns, Rice’s Ravens have won 11 times, with Ray averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
[Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images]