One of the greatest football players in Rutgers history is also, without a doubt, the most polarizing. Exactly one year ago today, video showing Ray Rice's assault on his then- fiancé Janay inside an Atlantic City casino elevator was released to the public. Since then, the former Scarlet Knight has worked hard to rehabilitate his image. Rice recently did an interview with ESPN's Jemele Hill, during which he seemed to express true remorse over his actions. When asked how he would evaluate the prospects of his NFL future, Rice claimed he has "a lot of hope and faith."
Although public opinion of Rice will probably never be favorable, the tide seems to slowly be moving towards giving him another shot at the NFL. We are a society that likes to see itself as a land of second chances, and I believe Rice has taken the necessary steps that have made him deserving of a chance at redemption. Not only has Rice gone through extensive rehab personally, but he has also stepped up to advocate for increased awareness against this disturbing issue of domestic violence.
If any team will give Rice another chance, it likely will be now or never, as the aging running back enters what would most likely be his final few years of productivity on the field. Here are the teams that could be landing spots for our Knight to play for again:
1. Cleveland Browns: Head Coach Mike Pettine has confirmed that there have been internal discussions regarding the signing of Rice, but he seemed noncommittal when claiming "At this point, we're not there yet." Pettine brought up the option of signing Rice again as recently as last week, saying the team has not dismissed the possibility, yet no movement has happened yet. If the Browns were not seriously considering signing Rice, why would Pettine continue to disclose this information unprovoked to the media? As public opinion has been such a strong factor in this ordeal, it is possible Pettine is doing so in order to see how the media and Browns fans would react to this signing. As there has been little to no backlash about the discussion of a Rice signing in Cleveland, maybe the team will pull the trigger and sign Rice in the near future.
2. Dallas Cowboys: It would be a typical Cowboys move if the team were to sign Rice when others seem apprehensive to do so. Jerry Jones is an owner who never shies away from making a splash through free agency signings. He also has a track record of giving players with off-the-field issues second chances, most recently Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory. After losing DeMarco Murray to the Eagles this offseason, the Cowboys begin the 2015 season with a backfield of questionable quality, highlighted by injury-prone Darren McFadden. If the running backs do not adequately produce at the beginning of the season, look for Jones to sign Rice.
3.New England Patriots: Despite the drama that has surrounded the Patriots since their Super Bowl victory, there is no team more suited to sign a polarizing figure like Rice and limit the ensuing media distraction. Patriots' signees have a habit of buying into the system and staying out of the headlines (with Gronk as the exception that proves that rule). The likelihood that Patriots fans will be focused on Tom Brady's return creates a climate where Rice could concentrate on football and avoid heavy scrutiny. After the loss of Shane Vereen this offseason to the New York Giants, the Patriots could also use Rice's services if he is able to return to his former Pro Bowl form.
Which team do you think is most likely to sign Rice? Answer the poll below and let us know what you think.