For now, the Cleveland Browns are only talking about signing Ray Rice to help them with their running back situation, but no one has done anything beyond that.
The interest in Rice is natural. After being suspended for the entire season last year, Rice has been reinstated by the league (after winning an appeal) and is very interested in finding a team again. However, there’s a combination of his ability before the suspension for hitting his wife (then fiancee) and the PR angle of the story, although teams sign players like Greg Hardy without batting an eye and no one is making too big of a deal from it. Just like Michael Vick: If you’re good, you’ll be forgiven by the fans of your team, who only care about performances on the field.
There’s plenty of personnel in Cleveland with Rice associations. Running back coach Wilbert Montgomery was Rice’s position coach with the Baltimore Ravens from 2008 to 2013. Head coach Mike Pettine, who admitted there have been talks within the staff about bringing Rice over, was an assistant coach with the Ravens during Rice’s rookie season.
Rice rushed for just 660 yards with 4 touchdowns in 2013, not coming off the Super Bowl win looking fresh and rejuvenated. After four consecutive years of more than 1000 rushing yards (2009-2012), it seemed age and the running back famous wear & tear caught up with a little bit sooner than expected. Maybe a year off actually helped him, but it does not mean teams, even those with serious running back issues, are willing to take a chance on him.