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Ravens hope to lock up Ray Rice this summer

The Baltimore Ravens need Ray Rice more than ever heading into the 2012 season, but will they be able to get on the same page with their star running back before the conversation turns nasty?

According to NFL Network's Kimberly Jones, there's hope among those in the Ravens organization that a long-term deal with the running back can be hammered out, though it might not happen until July.

Jones reported that when she inquired if Ravens coach John Harbaugh had anything to report about the negotiations, she received a simple response. "No I don't," Harbaugh said.

She said he smiled and added, "Does that surprise you?"

Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season and is currently scheduled to earn $7.742 million in base salary under the franchise tag. He is not taking part in organized team activities, which started on Tuesday. The Baltimore Sun reported on Monday that the two sides have been "talking regularly" and that progress has been made.

The financial landscape for upper-echelon running backs in the NFL is largely in place, giving both Rice and the Ravens a solid foundation with which to bargain. Common sense dictates Rice will get a deal in the range of what Arian Foster (four-year, $40.758-million extension) and LeSean McCoy (five-year, $45-million extension) recently received from the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, but coughing up that kind of cash is rarely a speedy process.

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