Star running backs ink new deals

Ray Rice

Ray Rice and Matt Forte, two of the NFL’s most productive running backs, signed new contracts with their respective teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears.

Rice’s extension, a 5yr/$40M deal, which includes a first year salary of $17M for the 2012-13 season and another $8M the following season, is structured to be loaded heavily on the front end.  Forte’s deal, on the other hand, is a 4yr/$32M contract which guarantees a minimum of $17M.

The Ravens and Bears both placed franchise tags on their star running backs to secure their services for the upcoming season. Without contract extensions Rice and Forte would have garnered around $7.7M, as guaranteed by franchise tag tender.

Matt Forte

More controversy surrounded Forte’s extension than Rice’s. Bandwagongers petitioning for Forte’s extension often followed his name with “pay him please,” as was notably heard by analysts on ESPN’s Sport Center.

Last Season Rice led the NFL accruing 2,068 yards from scrimmage, 1,368 of those were rushing yards. He also set a Ravens franchise record of 15 touchdowns.

The Chicago Bear’s offense wouldn’t exist without Matt Forte. Last Season he produced 997 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry, a total limited by a four game absence from a sprained right medial collateral ligament (MCL). Overall he totaled 1,487 yards from scrimmage.

It’s refreshing to see these two deals completed. Player holdouts have plagued professional sports in recent years. Now both players can return their focus to training camp and the upcoming regular season set to kick off in early September.

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Louis Williams Returning to Georgia

Louis Williams

Louis “Lou” Williams and the Atlanta Hawks have agreed to a multiyear contract, according to reports.

Last season Lou Williams averaged a shade less than 15 points and 3.5 assists while primarily coming off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers, which led to Williams finishing runner up for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Williams, a Georgia native, was drafted in 2005 as standout high school athlete in Gwinnett County. As a member of South Gwinnett High School, Williams averaged 27.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game.

Many believed Williams should have been starting last season, and he will probably get that opportunity while playing for the Hawks, who traded former starting guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this offseason. Williams has the skill set to play both point guard and shooting guard and should add some much needed flexibility to the hawks rotation.