Would trading Ray Rice in 2014 make sense?
5.0 yards per carry. Pretty impressive for the rookie out of Temple. Bernard Pierce racked up 734 yards on 147 carries, including the playoffs. But is Pierce even better than we think? Is he going to turn out to be a third round steal when we look back at the 2012 draft a few years from now?
Better yet, is Bernard Pierce the running back of the future in Baltimore? I’ll get back to that one.
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Let’s take a look at Pierce’s elusive rating. In layman’s terms, how hard is he to bring down. It takes into account missed tackles that the player forces, and yards after contact per attempt, both rushing and receiving. While Bernard Pierce doesn’t quite qualify, given the smaller sample size in comparison to the amount of touches that starting RBs get, his 155 touches are more than most back ups in the league.
Pierce’s elusive rating was 80.7 in 2012. The top five qualifying RBs in this category are:
1. C.J. Spiller – 94.6
2. Adrian Peterson – 71.9
3. Doug Martin – 58.2
4. Marshawn Lynch – 54.6
5. Alfred Morris – 50.5
18. Ray Rice – 23.6
Now we look at breakaway percentage. The percent of total rushing yards that came on rushes of over 15 yards. Essentially, who are the home run, big play threats when they get the ball in their hands.
Bernard Pierce posted a 33.9 breakaway percentage. I’ll take it a step further and let you know that Pierce broke off a 15+ yard run on nine of his 147 attempts (6.1% of his carries). The top five qualifying RBs in this category are:
1. Adrian Peterson – 54.7 (11.1%)
2. Jamaal Charles – 42.3 (6.7%)
3. C.J. Spiller – 39.9 (7.7%)
4. Chris Johnson – 39.5 (5.1%)
5. Reggie Bush – 37.4 (7.0%)
19. Ray Rice – 24.5 (4.1%)
It’s not going to take long for other teams to take notice of Bernard Pierce’s potential, and fresh legs with just one season in a limited role under his belt. I love Ray Rice as much as the next Ravens fan. 4th and 29, Hey diddle diddle, all that stuff. But taking my fandom bias out of it, we have to remember how short the lifespan of running backs are in this league. Ray Rice is entering his sixth season, and carried the load for four of his first five years.
Ray Rice isn’t getting released due to how good he actually is, and the amount of dead money that would be left on the table. But is Rice trade worthy in 2014, 2015?
For sake of argument, if the Ravens trade Ray Rice following this 2013 season and hand the starting job over to Pierce, then the Ravens will accomplish three things. They will likely acquire a couple draft picks, including a high first round draft pick for a guy with the talent like Rice. They will also save $8.75 million against the cap in the same season that Joe Flacco’s contract will take on an $8 million increase. Third, they replace a running back entering his eighth season with one entering his third, and the freshness of never carrying the load for an entire season.
If Ray Rice plays out his contract through 2016, Bernard Pierce could have tested free agency after 2015, and Rice will be entering his 10th season and considered a dinosaur as far as RBs go.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]