Dennis Pitta is The Best Free Agent Option for Ravens

Pitta v Broncos

The clock is ticking.

In 15 days NFL free agency will begin. In 12 days teams can begin negotiating with free agents. Regarding the franchise tag, the Ravens have only one week to use it if they wish to do so at all this year.

Last week we took a look at which wide receivers could fit Baltimore’s budget and scheme. Could any current Ravens fill that role?

Tight ends Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark as well as wide receivers Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss are all unrestricted free agents and have all been used in third down situations.

Dickson, Clark, Jones and Doss combined for 112 receptions last year (including 17 of 20 yards or more) and six touchdowns. In 2012, Pitta made 61 receptions (including 8 of 20 yards or more) and seven touchdowns.

When he last played a full season (2012), Pitta had more receptions, yards and touchdowns than any of those other four players. That shows you how valuable he is to this offense. In my opinion, he’s the most important free agent the Ravens are pursuing.

How much do they need to pay him to keep him? What if he gets the franchise tag?

There has been talk about Pitta receiving the wide receiver franchise tag, due to the fact that he often lines up as one.

Folks, don’t buy into that. It’s going to be hard enough for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (the best in football) to gain that distinction, much less Pitta. But the question of how much it’s going to take to keep Pitta in Baltimore is a fair one.

Last year Pitta made $2.023 million as a Raven. If he stays in Baltimore, expect that yearly cap figure to triple. He’s too good and too young to be offered less.

The average cap number among the five highest-paid tight ends from last year was $4.939 million. The Ravens should be able to afford that, especially considering the salary cap is expected to increase from $123 million to between $130-132 million by March 11.

As a reference to his importance to Baltimore’s success, look at how similar Pitta’s stats are to those of Anquan Boldin.

During the Ravens’ run to the Super Bowl XLVII title, Boldin came up huge. He made 22 receptions for 380 yards (17.3 average) and four touchdowns. Pitta made 14 receptions for 163 yards (11.6 average) and three touchdowns in that same postseason.

With Boldin gone and Ray Rice’s future uncertain, Pitta will have the opportunity to put up even better numbers as he figures to be, at worst, the second option on pass plays.

The Ravens have their third down/red zone threat already on the roster. His name is Dennis Pitta. He also happens to have a great relationship with Joe Flacco, which is significant.

If you’re telling me that kind of player isn’t worth $6 million a year, in a year when the salary cap could increase as much as 6.8 percent, I don’t believe you.

Speed is found in the likes of Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Deonte Thompson. Re-signing Pitta completes Baltimore’s passing game.

In my opinion, he’s the most important player the Ravens can sign in free agency this year.

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About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

6 Raves on “Dennis Pitta is The Best Free Agent Option for Ravens

  1. JayJay on said:

    I agree the Ravens should make every attempt to re-sign Pitta, but he will be 29 when the season starts and is coming off of a serious injury so there is a huge possibility that we have already seen the best of him. I imagine that after seeing his bff Flacco break the bank, Pitta will try to get paid as much as he can (I don’t blame him), but the Ravens should not overpay for his services when he may never have a season even as good as his pretty good, but not great 2012 season, especially if the Ravens draft a top flight WR and/or TE this year. If he wants top 5 TE money then I think we should let him go (unless we get him low on guaranteed $$) and look to the draft and free agency to fill. I only think a player like that is worth $6m if he’s 25 and not coming off of serious injury, regardless of the cap increase. The Ravens still have to prepare to give big contracts to Torrey & Jimmy Smith, who are both arguably more valuable (and younger) than Pitta.

  2. Cheri on said:

    Agree 100 percent………It amazes me how people want to just discharge him.I do not know what it is with Ravens fans when it comes to offensive players we are so easily satisfy with a substandard offense year in and year out..It seems like Ravens fans never want to take a WR/ TE high in the draft even now you have fans wanting to go defense with the first pick this year when it’s obvious the whole freaking off season pretty much has to and should be on offense.People, in a word our offense sucks we can’t let one of the best pieces get away. Here is what I want resign Pitta draft or sign another TE and bring in 2 WR’s one in F/A ONE IN THE DRAFT to go with Torry and Marlon

  3. John P on said:

    Mike,
    Nobody wants to see the Ravens retain Pitta more than I do. So don’t interpret this as me being “anti-Pitta”.

    My complaint here is that (per your article): The average cap number among the five highest-paid tight ends from last year was $4.939 million.

    But you want to pay Pitta 6M+ / year. Unless you’re trying to back-load his contract (it doesn’t appear that way) so we can force him to renegotiate before he actually hits the cap that high – I think you’re out of your mind!

    Pitta’s a great Raven. But he’s not a top-5 tight end. So we shouldn’t pay him that way. We should pay him what he’s worth, but that’s only about a $4M cap number at best. Not $6M. We’re tight enough to the cap as it is.

    Right player, right price. As always. Trust in Oz!

  4. slabyarddog on said:

    I agree that we should try to resign pitta but if the average for the top 5 tight end s is 4.9million why would we pay pitta 6 million we still need a tight end that can block and we have other holes to fill

  5. Tucker: M&T Sec 527 on said:

    I guess you are referring to Boldin as the black guy? First off, if you want to call Ozzie Newsome a racist, be my guest, but I’m going to pass on that if you don’t mind. Second, it was ageism that led the Ravens to let Boldin walk. They didn’t want to go $6 million on a guy in his mid 30s.
    I thought all along we should retain Boldin as a strong, clutch posession receiver, but Ozzie made the call counting on Pitta being available (and we all know how that gamble paid off). If he could turn back time, he probably would give the extra $2 million to Boldin, especially now knowing that Boldin didn’t lose much off his game from 2012 to 2013. Boldin had a career pattern (see Arizona) of needing to be shown love in “tangible” ways, Ozzie tried to bluff him and Q called the bluff. To avoid a repeat of 2013′s loss of all our established posession receiving threats, Ozzie isn’t going to let this “white guy” get away if he can help it.

    I’d give the racial angle a rest, Al Sharpton…

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