-- At least four teams have expressed interest in recently reinstated running back Ray Rice, including Indianapolis and New Orleans, though the Colts are not expected to pursue him, according to multiple league sources.
Two sources declined to identify the other two teams that have been checking into Rice.
It still will be difficult for Rice to find work this season. He turns 28 in January, is coming off a down season and hasn't played football since training camp. But Rice signing this season is not out of the question, either, if the right team should emerge.
Multiple NFL executives have said the profile of a team willing to sign Rice would be one that is a contender, with a strong-minded head coach, with injuries in its backfield. The Saints -- fighting for first place in the NFC South, with multiple banged-up running backs, with a fan base that would not be overly concerned what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks -- would qualify, although they are not expected to pursue him.
Rice is said to have stayed in great shape, and believes he could provide help to any team that signs him immediately. But Rice also is not locked into playing this year, as much as he'd like to, per sources.
One AFC running backs coach called Rice a "good player" but acknowledged there would be obstacles with how fast he could pick up a team's offense.
"Some guys learn faster than others. They just do," the coach told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "I don't know what kind of shape he's in. There are a bunch of different things. He's going to have to get into shape, clearly because he hasn't been hitting this year. You would think there would be some carryover ... but he is a good player. He is a good player."
As for how Rice might fit back into a locker room?
"I don't know on that one," the coach told Anderson. "It's a different thing. It was so violent, such a volatile conversation earlier, I don't know what guys in the locker room would think about this. I really don't. We don't interact with them like that. I'm not in those conversations with them about how they feel about issues like that. I don't know, I'd be speaking out of turn probably on that one."
Rice is determined to sign with the right team in the right situation or he's prepared to wait to see what additional opportunities present themselves this offseason.