When former Ravens running back Ray Rice won his appeal for reinstatement into the NFL earlier this week, many fans and many media members openly wondered about whether the Indianapolis Colts would pursue Rice. The Colts have a need at the position, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano knows Rice from his days in Baltimore, and the Colts are seen as a class organization with a strong locker room - seemingly a good fit for the back with a lot of baggage.
But the Colts aren't interested.
I've been saying it for a while. ESPN's Ed Werder has said it. The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder has said it. WTHR's Bob Kravitz has said it. And now, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting it as well.
Schefter, however, reports that the Colts have actually expressed interest but aren't going to pursue signing him. He said that the Colts are one of four teams (including the Saints) to show interest, but Schefter also cited a league source saying that the Colts aren't expected to pursue. This doesn't conflict with other reports but rather actually confirms them. Basically, the Colts looking into Ray Rice is just their due diligence. That doesn't mean they have any intentions about signing him but rather are just doing what they should be doing in at least checking.
For Rice, it will be hard to find a team to sign him this year. On the field, there are concerns with Rice. He averaged just 3.1 yards per carry for the Ravens in 2013, has 1,430 career carries, and is a soon-to-be 28-year old running back. Those are definitely concerns because of the steep drop off for running backs as they get older, and his 3.1 yards per carry is a concern as well. Normally, however, that would be enough to at least get several teams interested - I mean, the Raiders signed Maurice Jones-Drew this offseason so Rice could definitely have landed somewhere. The thing is, however, that this isn't a normal situation. And as we know, teams often weigh the on-field reward versus the off-field consequences when making a decision, and there are many who feel like where Rice's production is on the field is not worth the risk of signing him.
But let's be clear on this, too: there's more to this decision than purely football. This situation involves a running back with baggage and would involve a whole lot of media scrutiny and PR problems - not to mention the fact that signing the back could be seen as a slap in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's face, as Goodell's second suspension of Rice was (correctly) overturned. And WTHR's Bob Kravitz put it best when discussing the Colts and this part of things:
The reason is nobler than that: The Colts simply don't want someone with Rice's baggage in their locker room. That's not to say they don't have other guys in their room with some baggage. Ryan Grigson has taken chances with players who've made some bad mistakes.
But like so many of us, Grigson and Chuck Pagano, who are both married and have daughters, cannot get that TMZ tape out of their minds. How does Grigson or Pagano turn to their wives and daughters and say, "Yeah, I think we're going to give him another chance.''
How do the Colts, who partner up with domestic shelters, turn around and give Rice a safe haven?
His question is a valid one: how would either Ryan Grigson or Chuck Pagano, who are very adamant about putting family first, turn around and then sign Rice? How do they justify it to their wives and daughters? How do they justify it with all of the domestic violence charities that they help support? How do they justify it to their players? To their fans? I don't really think there's a good answer to those questions. Rice isn't worth that, especially for a running back who some are concerned about on-the-field as well.
The Colts may have expressed interest in Rice. And there may be a number of people speculating that the Colts would be a good fit. But take it from those in the know who are reporting that Ray Rice to the Colts won't happen. The team doesn't have interest in signing him.