Baltimore Ravens Free Agent Focus: Dennis Pitta
Coming into the season, Dennis Pitta was slated as the number two tight end on the depth chart behind incumbent starter Ed Dickson. By the end of the season, Pitta had emerged as one of the top young tight ends in the entire NFL and a major part of the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.
Pitta had a decent season in 2011 as he had 405 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He also chipped in with another touchdown in the playoffs playing behind Dickson.
Pitta built upon his second season with a stellar 2012 as he came out of the gates hot while Dickson was largely invisible. Through the first three games, Pitta had 188 yards receiving and two touchdowns as he passed Dickson on the depth chart and never looked back.
Pitta finished the season with 669 receiving yards, which was good for the eleventh-highest total in the league for a tight end. His seven touchdowns ranked tied for sixth for tight ends, and his 61 receptions were tied for ninth best for a tight end. Thus, after looking at all the numbers, Pitta has emerged as a top-10 tight end in the NFL.
After a breakout regular season, Pitta became a red zone monster in the playoffs, as he reeled in three touchdowns in four playoff games. He scored big touchdowns in both the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship Game, so Pitta showed he can make big plays in big games.
Pitta will be entering just his fourth season as he quickly ascends up the ranks of NFL tight ends. Pitta and Joe Flacco are good friends off the field, which helped them build a solid rapport on the field. Pitta was Flacco’s security blanket for most of the season and wasn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas to make a play. With Flacco locked up for the next six seasons, signing his favorite target to a multi-year deal is now the biggest piece to lock up on the offensive side for the Ravens.
Retaining Pitta will be easier than some of the Ravens’ other key free agents, as Pitta is a restricted free agent. If another team tries to pry Pitta away from the Ravens, Baltimore would be in line to receive a great compensation package if he in fact does sign elsewhere. However, it seems unlikely that another team would pay a stiff price for Pitta, and the Ravens seem intent of keeping him in the mix so he figures to be in Baltimore when next season rolls around.
With the breaking news that the Ravens’ have traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, that bodes well for Pitta. If Boldin is in fact released, look for Pitta to be re-signed and become Flacco’s top target along with wide receiver Torrey Smith.
All things considered, Pitta is emerging as a top tight end and is Flacco’s go-to guy. Look for Pitta to get a deal in the range of three-to-five years, which will keep him in Baltimore as he enters his prime. It would be absolutely shocking if Pitta isn’t with the Ravens next season.
Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks
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