The Ravens have until July 15 to sign Rice to a long-term deal. If they are unable to reach an agreement, Rice will play for roughly $7.7 million in 2012 -- the franchise amount for running backs.
"As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome told the team's official website. "Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We've done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago."
Rice, who led the NFL in 2011 with 2,068 total yards and added 15 touchdowns, told the newspaper he wanted a long-term contract shortly after Baltimore's season ended with a loss in the AFC Championship Game.
"Yeah, I definitely prefer long-term over franchise tag," Rice said then. "I'm not going to complain about the franchise tag, either. It puts yourself in a position where you play that year out and guys have done it, but I prefer the long-term."
Newsome indicated that the team might still be open to having Carr and Evans return.