The Baltimore Ravens made several moves this offseason, both acquiring players and drafting them. One of the more underrated moves that they made was acquiring former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels.
Daniels has been the starting tight end for Houston since 2006. He has caught over 50 passes four times, and has only caught less than 34 passes once (he missed 11 games the one year he didn’t). His 6-foot-3, 250-pound body makes him difficult to guard, which is why he has been one of Houston’s most reliable receivers for a number of years now.
He has caught 385 passes for 4,617 yards (11 yards-per-catch) over his eight-year career. Those are impressive numbers, definitely resembling a starting tight end. However, Daniels will not be starting for the Ravens this year.
Wait a second; you’re telling me that an eight-year veteran who has received over 700 yards four times in his career won’t be starting? That is correct. Fourth-year tight end Dennis Pitta will be starting.
However, the question isn’t who will be starting, the question is: How can Pitta and Daniels co-exist on the Ravens’ offense?
Let’s break it down. You may only have 11 players on the field at once. The quarterback is one, then the running back, five offensive lineman, and three wide receivers which leaves us with one more spot. Many things can occur here. Either the Ravens only use two wide receivers plus a fullback and a tight end, or two tight ends. However, if three wide receivers are used, then only one tight end may be present.
That one tight end will probably be Dennis Pitta nine times out of ten, or so you would think. The Ravens didn’t sign Owen Daniels to a two-year deal only to play him once or twice every ten plays. Expect the unexpected when it comes to the tight end position this year.
“I’ll let him speak for himself on what he plans, but I guarantee his role will be plenty big,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to have a lot to do with our success next year. We have a lot of big plans for him, and we’re really excited about it.”
The second-string tight end for the Ravens last year was Ed Dickson. Despite Dickson’s many struggles, he still saw about ten plays every game. Surely Daniels, a far more efficient tight end than Dickson, will play more often.
There is one thing that might prevent this theory of Daniels getting a lot of playing time. Pitta missed the first 12 games of the season in 2013. When he came back, he gave the Ravens an instant boost, hauling in 20 passes in just four games. He reminded Ravens fans and the team staff how valuable he really is, and they will want to include him in as many offensive plays as possible.
With that being said, they will also want Daniels to get as much playing time as possible. It is just another one of those “good problems” that the Ravens will have to resolve over the next few months. Will Daniels and Pitta split downs or will Pitta go back to his normal role as a starting tight end? All these questions will be answered as we head into training camp.