With the recent acquisitions of pass rushing specialist Elvis Dumervil and safety Michael Huff, the collective panic level of Ravens Nation has subsided a bit.
The 2013 draft is less than a month away (April 25) and the roller coaster ride is in mid-climb – but could the “sky is falling” mentality set in once again with a major downfall potentially approaching?
Tight end Dennis Pitta’s future (and his income level) remains the only major question surrounding the Ravens prior to the draft. Pitta was given a second-round tender by the Ravens, which will pay him $2.023 million fully guaranteed in 2013. If Pitta doesn’t sign an extension, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
Pitta’s extremely consistent play has ensured him of an increase in his pay beyond the more than $2 million he’s slated to receive this upcoming season. While it would cost a team a second-round pick, creating a temping offer for Pitta to leave Baltimore could be easier than it seems. Pitta has until April 19th to negotiate with teams before having to officially sign his restricted free agent tender.
After the signing of Huff, the Ravens have less than $4 million in cap space remaining and that doesn’t account for the roughly $1.5 million they’ll need to sign their draft picks. Any suitor with some flexibility in their salary cap could make Pitta an offer that the Ravens simply couldn’t match by throwing more money in the front end of their offer – something that Ozzie Newsome and company would have a tough time swallowing.
Extending Pitta is essentially like an insurance policy to the six-year, $120 million contract given to quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco and Pitta’s friendship off the field is important to their chemistry, but with football being the business it is, their weekly pizza parties may not necessarily be worth $2 million extra per year to Pitta – especially because the NFL is often referred to as Not For Long and the chance to make millions of dollars to play football don’t come often.
For Pitta to sign with another team, it’ll have to be his own choice – he won’t leave against his will a la Anquan Boldin or Bernard Pollard. Chances are that he’ll receive a fair offer from the Ravens and continue his local friendship and development with Flacco. However, football is a business and if someone does find Pitta to be worth a second-round value and a decent contract, it may be hard for him to turn down such a pay raise.
Teams rarely poach RFA’s from other squads. However, it does happen sometimes. Close to home in the AFC North, the New England Patriots have been rumored to be targeting Pittsburgh WR Emmanuel Sanders in recent weeks.
As fans search for reasons why Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, extending Pitta is partially to blame. Why should the Ravens have paid Boldin $6 million per season when they desperately need to hold onto Pitta, who is younger, more consitant and is found in the end zone more often?
To me, it seems like a no brainier.