- Associated Press - Monday, July 16, 2012

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens and Ray Rice agreed on a new five-year contract Monday worth roughly $40 million.

The Ravens and their standout running back went right down to the 4 p.m. deadline before reaching the deal. Had Rice not signed, he would have played the 2012 season under the $7.7 million franchise tag tender. Instead, he will get $17 million this year and $8 million in 2013.

Baltimore has made the playoffs in each of Rice’s four seasons, twice advancing to the AFC title game. He earned his second Pro Bowl invite last year after leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage.

“This is another example of [owner] Steve Bisciotti’s commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “Ray has been an integral part of us earning the playoffs in each of his four seasons. His production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding.

“I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL,” Newsome said. You’d have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, ‘He’s on our team.’”

As Baltimore’s franchise player, Rice would not have been required to report at the start of training camp. The Ravens will hold their first full squad workout July 26, and Rice is expected to attend.

Baltimore selected the 5-foot-8, 212-pounder from Rutgers in the second round of the 2008 draft. In 61 career games, he ranks second in franchise history in yards rushing (4,377) and yards from scrimmage (6,612).

Bears strike deal with Forte

CHICAGO — Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears agreed to a four-year contract, settling the biggest issue hanging over the team.

The team confirmed the deal before Monday’s deadline. Had the sides not reached an agreement, Forte would have had to play next season for $7.74 million after being hit with the franchise player tag. Or he could have held out.

With Forte signed, the Bears will have all their key pieces in place when training camp starts next week.

Forte made the Pro Bowl for the first time, finishing with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing. He missed the last four games after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in a loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4.

Jaguars’ Scobee signs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $13.8 million, making him one of the NFL’s highest-paid kickers. Scobee signed about two hours before the deadline to sign franchise players.



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