It went down to the final five minutes before negotiations had to cease, but Ray Rice agreed to terms on a reported five-year, $40 million contract with the Ravens on Monday.
According to the Carroll County Times, Rice will earn $25 million over the first two years of the deal, including $17 million in Year 1.
Had Rice and the Ravens not come to an agreement, they wouldn't have been able to negotiate until after the 2012 season because the team had placed the franchise tag on its Pro Bowl running back. Rice was assured of earning about $7 million if he played on his one-year franchise tender and without the security of a multi-year pact.
But the Ravens got their man locked up, making a hefty investment in Rice, a jack-of-all-trades tailback who has developed into one of the NFL's best over the last four years.
The implications of failing to get a deal done were significant for next offseason, when the Ravens will need to work on re-signing quarterback Joe Flacco. The need to sign their two most important offensive pieces at once would've been a lot to deal with.
But now that Rice's deal is done, that's one less worry going forward.
Update: The Ravens have officially announced the new contract with Rice, who will not address the deal until reporting to training camp on July 25.
Ravens general manager/executive VP Ozzie Newsome did issue a statement about the signing.
"This is another example of Steve Bisciotti's commitment to the team and to our fans to retain our core players," Newsome said in the statement. "Ray has been an integral part of us earning the playoffs in each of his four seasons, and that includes helping us get to two AFC Championship games. His production on the field speaks for itself, and his leadership in the locker room is outstanding.
"I should say something about his community efforts; I think they are almost unmatched by any player in the NFL. You'd have a hard time finding a player who does more or is as serious about helping others as Ray is. He is one of those players you can proudly say, 'He's on our team.'"
Rice, the Ravens' 2008 second-round pick and a two-time Pro Bowler, already ranks second in franchise history in rushing yards and third in rushing touchdowns. His 15 total touchdowns in 2011 were a single-season team record.
Here are some of his other accomplishments as provided by the Ravens:
* With his 1,364 rushing yards and 704 receiving yards in 2011, Rice joined Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk (four times) as the only players in league history to register at least 1,200 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards in multiple seasons (Rice finished the 2009 season with 1,339 rushing yards and 702 receiving yards).
* Led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068 (1,364 rushing and 704 receiving) in 2011, was the only player to produce 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2011, his 2,068 yards from scrimmage are second all time in Ravens history (Jamal Lewis, 2,271 in 2003).
* Owns 12 100-yard rushing games.
* Rushed for a career-high 204 yards (fourth most in Ravens history) vs. Cleveland (Dec. 4, 2011).
* Led the team with 78 receptions (for 702 yards and a TD) and also led all NFL RBs in receptions and receiving yards in 2009, setting the Ravens' RB single-season records in those categories.
* Rice is the Ravens' all-time receiving leader by a RB (250 for 2,235). He posted a team-high 76 catches for a career-high 704 yards in 2011.
* Produced a career-high 233 yards from scrimmage, rushing a career-high 31 times for 153 yards and pulled in a team-high five receptions for 80 yards and a TD in the 30-24 victory vs. New Orleans (Dec. 19, 2010).
* Ran for a Ravens' postseason-franchise-record 159 yards and postseason-franchise-record-tying two TDs on 22 carries (7.2 avg.), including a career-long and franchise-postseason-record 83-yard TD rush (second longest in NFL postseason history), in the 33-14 victory in the Wild Card Game at New England (Jan. 10, 2010).
* Became the second non-QB (WR Mark Clayton) in Ravens history to throw a TD pass, with his 1-yard toss to TE Ed Dickson at Seattle (Nov. 13, 2011).