Finally the Baltimore Ravens are able to return to the positive side of sports news with an agreement with tight end Dennis Pitta on a five-year contract worth $32 million. After the enthusiasm of Coach Harbaugh securing the services of new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and a revamped, highly-qualified new coaching staff, Ray Rice’s domestic news took over too much of Ravens headlines.
This signing of Pitta marks the accomplishment of what has pretty much been viewed as the Ravens’ #1 offseason priority on a long list of desired actions. It prevents the awkward situation of applying the franchise tag – a scenario that, in this case in particular, had the potential of getting very contentious very quickly. The nature of that potentiality would have centered around whether Pitta could have technically sought a tag in the wide receiver category, which would have netted him a larger number and engendered a likely controversy. But all of that is now history that was averted.
Among points that illustrate the importance of this signing and of Pitta’s value to the Ravens are the following …
- Clearly the Ravens were not the same with Pitta out of the lineup much of this past season due to his hip injury and surgery. When he returned for the final four games and caught 20 passes for 169 yards, it was obvious that he greatly enhanced the offense and that his health and skills remained intact. Harbaugh said in a statement, “It was obvious when Dennis was out last year that we really missed him.” Yep, that was obvious.
- Pitta not only makes his own contributions – pulling in catches at horizontal angles with the look of glue on his hands – he creates situations that open up opportunities for the other receivers on the field. In a statement from Ozzie Newsome, he said, “Dennis creates a number of mismatch problems for defenses. He makes it tough on them, and because of that, he really helps out our wide receivers. Opponents have to always pay attention to where he lines up and where his routes take him. Dennis is also a big target with very good hands, and his presence in the red zone is very important to us.”
- There is some measure of chemistry and the history of experience with Joe Flacco that is invaluable. They are close both in terms of on-field feel for the passing game, as well as by friendship beyond the sport.
- As has been written here on The Baltimore Wire and in a variety of sources, the tight end position will play a greater role in the offensive scheme and philosophy of Gary Kubiak. This was true in Houston where his tight ends put up large numbers. Even with Pitta, the Ravens could well desire to add another tight end in the draft – perhaps Eric Ebron of UNC if it is at all possible that he might still be available for the 17th pick. I wouldn’t bet on that.
Though time was running out for this sort of deal to come together between Pitta and the Baltimore Ravens, as recently as yesterday it was reported that the sides were not close to an agreement. So this is indeed good news today for the Ravens and their fans. Pitta was certainly interested in being able to stay in Baltimore if at all possible. In a statement from him he said, “I could not be more excited to remain a Baltimore Raven. There is no better organization or fanbase in sports. To be given the opportunity to continue my career here is incredible. This organization drafted me and has always stood by me, especially during my difficult recovery last season, and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
Drafted in 2010 in the fourth round out of Brigham Young, Pitta’s best season was in 2012 where he pulled down seven TDs and 61 total passes for 699 yards. His playoff record also demonstrates his ability in the clutch with four touchdowns and 233 yards on 21 catches.
This contract places Pitta among the top ten tight ends in the NFL. And with this agreement in place, the Ravens are indicating interests in next moving to strike deals with left tackle Eugene Monroe and middle linebacker Daryl Smith – their top tackler from the 2013 season. The salary cap has just now been expanded to $133 million which will be a big help for the Ravens, though all that needs to be accomplished will still necessitate some serious creativity.
Here are Pitta’s career statistics …
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