July 16th was a big day for some NFL franchise players, mainly those who received long-term deals. Two players who got deals from their respective teams on the 16th could be the lead running backs for the AFC and NFC champions. Baltimore’s big deal for Ray Rice, as well as Chicago’s deal for Matt Forte have brought their teams some of the best news they could possibly hope to hear before training camp.
Forte and the Bears agreed to a four year, $32 million deal worth $17 million in guarantees. This is a huge move for the Bears. Chicago has made some excellent moves this offseason, upgrading both sides of the ball with big additions like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Bush, and Shea McClellin. They probably had the look of a playoff team without Forte, but now he is going to be in camp, happy, and ready to run wild for the Bears and be the team’s MVP once more.
Ray Rice, similarly, is the Ravens’ MVP, and he signed a five year, $40 million deal with $25 million in the first two seasons. Rice’s addition to the offense prevents a holdout and gives the Ravens a potentially dangerous 1-2 punch with rookie Bernard Pierce. The Ravens are always contenders in the AFC, but they likely wouldn’t have been if Rice had still been holding out into the season.
These two moves are huge for both teams, locking up their top young running backs just before the deadline. Nobody received quite the amount of money that Drew Brees did, maybe not even combined, but these moves can still have a very large effect in the pursuit of a Super Bowl.