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Pettine: Browns have discussed signing Ray Rice

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Might free agent Ray Rice's wish for the opportunity to "hang 'em up the right way" land him in Cleveland?

Coach Mike Pettine acknowledged to SI.com's Don Banks on Tuesday that the Browns have discussed signing Rice, who has been out of league since his release by the Ravens last September.

Frustrated with the young running-back trio of Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson, running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery recently lamented that "nobody wants the role."

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Pettine revealed that the team's brass has talked about adding a veteran, but added, "I don't think we're there at this point."

Asked if Rice could be that veteran, Pettine pointed to the tailback's connections on the Browns' coaching staff.

"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," Pettine said. "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."

As the poster-child for domestic violence in American professional sports, Rice will need approval from ownership before a signing is seriously considered.

Floating the idea to Sports Illustrated is one way of providing public feedback for upper management to mull over.

"I don't think it's gotten to that point, to say, 'Hey, I'd kind of be comfortable with it,'" Pettine continued. "But I think it would get to that point if we arrived at it from a football standpoint, then asked that question. Instead of working the process backwards. Why bother with asking the question if the need never presents itself?"

In other words, Pettine is laying the groundwork for a case to be made if his "disappointing" backfield doesn't show improvement in the first couple of preseason games.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Steve Smith's retirement news and predicts the training camp QB battles.

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