The Baltimore Ravens have kept three tight ends on the roster for four of the past five seasons. For the most part, though, they have only used two. In 2008, Daniel Wilcox and Edgar Jones (who also played as a linebacker) were Todd Heap‘s backups. Wilcox caught five passes for 19 yards and two touchdowns, while Jones only posted one reception for 25 yards.
In 2009, L.J. Smith joined Jones behind Heap, catching two receptions for 31 yards. Jones only logged one reception for nine yards that year.
In 2010, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta and Davon Drew joined the club. Dickson served as Heap’s primary backup, catching 11 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Pitta only posted one catch for one yard. Drew posted nothing.
In 2011, Dickson became the starter after Heap’s departure, with Pitta and Kris Wilson backing him up. Pitta improved upon his underwhelming rookie season with 40 receptions for 405 yards and three touchdowns. The only pass Wilson caught was a one-yard touchdown pass in the playoffs.
In 2012, Dickson and Pitta were joined by veteran Billy Bajema, who served solely as a blocker.
After the trading of Anquan Boldin, Pitta was in line for a monster season as Joe Flacco‘s new go-to guy. Then he fractured and dislocated his hip in training camp, taking him out of the 2013 season. Dickson is poised to take on a larger chunk of the passing game, but a recent strained hamstring has raised some concerns regarding his own health. There are five other tight ends on the roster, including veteran Visanthe Shiancoe, undrafted free agent Matt Furstenburg, Alex Silvestro, Dickson and Bajema.
With Pitta out for the season and Dickson’s status going forward questionable, the remaining depth at tight end will be more important than in previous seasons. Shiancoe has been a reliable target in years past, but has to shake off a lot of rust in a short amount of time. Furstenburg has turned some heads in OTAs and training camp, but needs to shine in the preseason to earn a spot in the 53-man roster. Silvestro spent a year with the New England Patriots, but posted no stats in the one game he played in. Bajema has eight years of experience with multiple teams and has shown to be a capable receiver, but he could be on the roster bubble depending on how the younger tight ends perform.
Given the circumstances, the Ravens could very well choose to keep four tight ends on the roster this season, and use fullback/H-back Kyle Juszczyk as an extra option. Whoever they choose to keep, though, should be ready, willing and able to contribute in 2013.