Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted by a grand jury on a third-degree aggravated assault charge for allegedly striking his fiancee and rendering her unconscious last month, Atlantic County, N.J., prosecutors announced March 27. He is scheduled to be arraigned April 28 at Atlantic County Superior Court in New Jersey.
Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence on Feb. 15 after a physical altercation with his fiancee, Janay Palmer, at the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. Palmer also was charged with simple assault.
The simple assault-domestic violence charge against Palmer was dismissed.
Prosecutors took the case to a grand jury, which returned a more serious charge of aggravated assault. The charge carries a potential penalty of three to five years in prison, officials said.
"This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident," the Ravens said in a statement.
One day after the announcement of the indictment, Rice and Palmer were married.
A video obtained and posted online by TMZ showed Rice lifting Palmer by her arms out of an elevator and laying her on the floor. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said the footage is authentic but incomplete.
Diamondstein told The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday that neither Rice nor Palmer wants to move forward with the case.
"On behalf of Ray Rice, we vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault," Diamondstein told the paper. "Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they're in counseling."
Rice, 27, signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens before the 2012 season. He is coming off his worst season, rushing for only 660 yards and averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti previously called Rice's arrest "embarrassing and disappointing" but vowed to stick by the three-time All-Pro running back.
"Ray will be here," Bisciotti said this week in an interview with the Baltimore Sun at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. "This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It's embarrassing for him and his fiancee. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public relations hit.
"If everybody was one-strike-and-you're-out, then we'd all be in trouble. When somebody repeats mistakes, it's showing a lack of character to me. You can't take what Ray's done -- the kind of locker-room influence he's been and the kind of community commitment that he's shown -- and say he's a different person. I showed my support. Would I show my support with repeated failures? No."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed his displeasure on Tuesday over having three of his players arrested in a 22-day period, calling the arrests "unacceptable" and "disappointing,"
Besides Rice's arrest, backup wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Feb. 21 and backup offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of battery in a bar fight on March 9.
"It's unacceptable. It's disappointing," Harbaugh said at the NFL meetings. "But you also separate the person from the activity, and redemption is something that we think is important as well.
"If there is ever a point in time when we feel that person has lost value for our team, starting with football or because of their character, then you move on from those guys. But those guys aren't to that point."
Just as Bisciotti did, Harbaugh reaffirmed his support for Rice.
"He will be part of our team," Harbaugh said. "He's a person of character. The thing that's really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action. He makes a mistake. There's no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kind of things happen."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the league was continuing to monitor Rice's case, indicating no timetable or decision on whether Rice will be punished by the league.
Steve Smith, who was released by the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, did not spend much time as a free agent as he signed a three-year contract.
"We've added one of the top competitors in the NFL to the Ravens," team vice president Ozzie Newsome said in statement. "Steve is a proven player who has performed his best in big games and on the biggest stages like the playoffs and Super Bowl. He adds toughness to our offense, big-play ability and leadership to our team."
Baltimore needed to improve its offense after a disappointing 2013 season, and Smith should help.
Smith will turn 35 in May. He is coming off another productive season, with 64 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. His numbers tailed off a bit from the previous two seasons, when he had over 1,100 receiving yards in 2011 and again in 2012.
He has been named to the Pro Bowl five times, most recently in 2011.
"Steve is a Ravens-style football player," head coach John Harbaugh said. "He always has been in our eyes; it's just that he's been playing for another team. We've respected and admired the way he plays, and we've always been challenged playing against him. I've known him ever since he came into the league, and we've always had a great relationship. The last two days, however, have given all of us with the Ravens an opportunity to get to know him on another level, and now, we're even more impressed. We're looking forward to working together and competing together."
Daryl Smith agreed to a four-year deal worth $16.1 million.
Smith, 32, had 123 tackles, and established career highs with five sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a team record 19 pass breakups in his first year with the Ravens in 2013.
Smith also returned an interception 37 yards for a game-changing touchdown in a win over the Houston Texans. It was his first career TD.
"There are a lot of smiles around the building today after we got a commitment from Daryl Smith to stay a Raven," Newsome said in a statement. "He fills a need for us at a high level. Just look at his production last season, plus he gave us leadership and maturity. He's tough, he's consistent, he's intelligent, and he brings his lunch pail to work every day."
--The Baltimore Ravens locked up veteran left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to a five-year, $37.5 million contract that includes $19 million guaranteed and an $11 million signing bonus.
Monroe came close to hitting free agency, but ultimately agreed to terms shortly after the signing period began Tuesday.
The Ravens needed to retain Monroe, who was acquired in a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a fourth-round and fifth-round draft pick in October.
"I'm excited, man," Monroe told The Baltimore Sun. "Anytime you get to play at this level even for a short amount of time, it's a blessing. It's a win all-around in every aspect for me, proximity to my family in New Jersey and my wife and her side of her family, which is literally right here.
"You can't beat it. That's awesome. I'm definitely appreciative for the Ravens having faith in my ability to play at a high level. I'm looking forward to continuing to improve, so we can continue to win ballgames."
Jones had a career-high 53 tackles along with four sacks last season.
Now, the Ravens need to bolster their wide receiver position, free safety and middle linebacker.
--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week in which all games will be on Thurs. Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.
The Ravens will play at home against San Francisco in Week 1 and Washington in Week 3, while going on the road to play Dallas in Week 2 and New Orleans in Week 4.
"We said at the beginning of the offseason that we would be adding quality players to our line and Jeremy fits that description," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said on the team's website. "We are getting a player who has started at both center and guard, and played well at each position. We're excited to have him as a Raven and believe he can play a significant role for us."
The 27-year-old Zuttah is expected to compete for the starting job at center with Gino Gradkowski.
According to NFL.com, Zuttah's contract has been adjusted to lower his previous salary-cap figures of $4.5 million and $4.25 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Zuttah will get a new long-term deal as part of the trade.
Zuttah was a third-round draft pick out of Rutgers in 2008. He appeared in 90 games and started 76 over his six seasons with the Buccaneers.
After the deal was done, Zuttah said, "The past six years in Tampa Bay have been great for me, but now I'm looking forward to joining the Ravens and helping them win another championship."
--The Ravens didn't offer a restricted free agent tender to wide receiver Tandon Doss, making him an unrestricted free agent. He signed with Jacksonville.
Doss is a former fourth-round pick from Indiana who returned a punt for a touchdown last season and provided depth at receiver.
--The Ravens extended tender offers to all six of their exclusive rights free agents Tuesday. That group includes inside linebacker Josh Bynes ($570,000), outside linebackers D.J. Bryant ($420,000) and Adrian Hamilton ($420,000) and safeties Brynden Trawick ($495,000), Anthony Levine ($495,000) and Omar Brown ($570,000).
If the Ravens didn't assign the tenders, the players would have become unrestricted free agents.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had his contract extended for one year through the 2017 season.
--Wide receiver-returner Jacoby Jones agreed to a four-year, $14 million contract with the Ravens.
The team confirmed the agreement. Financial terms of the contract include $4.5 million in guarantees, according to a report.
Jones was in New Jersey meeting with the New York Giants when the announcement was made.
--WIDE RECEIVER: The Ravens haven't had a slot wide receiver to attack the middle of the field since they traded Anquan Boldin a year ago. They signed Steve Smith, but still could be looking for more.
--SAFETY: The Ravens are shifting free safety Matt Elam to strong safety and need a natural centerfielder. Darian Stewart was signed as a free agent, but he's probably not the answer. James Ihedigbo signed with Detroit.
--MIDDLE LINEBACKER: Leading tackler Daryl Smith is an unrestricted free agent and no deal is imminent.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--TE Dallas Clark is contemplating retirement and not expected to return.
--TE Ed Dickson: UFA Panthers; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--RB Bernard Scott is a backup runner who has drawn mild interest so far from teams.
--WR Brandon Stokley has declared that he intends to retire.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Josh Bynes (tendered at $570,000) will compete for a starting job at inside linebacker.
--LB D.J. Bryant (tendered at $420,000) will be in a battle for a roster spot after spending last year on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
--LB Adrian Hamilton (tendered at $420,000) will compete for a situational pass rusher role.
--S Anthony Levine (tendered at $495,000) will be a key backup and special-teams contributor.
--S Omar Brown (tendered at $570,000) will need a strong training camp to make the team.
--NT Terrence Cody: UFA; $730,000/1 yr.
--LB Albert McClellan: Potential RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Jacoby Jones: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, $4.5M SB.
--S Jeromy Miles: UFA; terms unknown.
--T Eugene Monroe: UFA; $37.5M/5 yrs, $19M guaranteed.
--TE Dennis Pitta: Potential UFA; $32M/5 yrs, $16M guaranteed.
--LB Daryl Smith: UFA; $16.1M/4 yrs.
--S Brynden Trawick: ERFA; $495,000/1 yr.
--TE Owen Daniels: FA Texans; $1M/1 yr.
--RB Justin Forsett: FA Jaguars; $730,000/1 yr.
--WR Steve Smith: FA Panthers; $10.5M/3 yrs, $3.5M SB.
--S Darian Stewart: UFA Rams; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--C/G Jeremy Zuttah (trade Buccaneers).
--WR Tandon Doss: Not tendered as RFA/Jaguars; terms unknown.
--CB Corey Graham: UFA Bills; $16M/4 yrs.
--S James Ihedigbo: UFA Lions; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Arthur Jones: UFA Colts; $33M/5 yrs, $5.5M SB/$16M guaranteed.
--FB Vonta Leach (released).
--LB Jameel McClain (released).
--OT Michael Oher: UFA Titans; $20M/4 yrs, $4M SB/$9.35M guaranteed.
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