Did The Ravens Overpay Pitta?

Pitta dives v Vikings

As the Ravens have agreed to terms with Dennis Pitta on a 5-year, 32 million contract with $16 million guaranteed (reported by Aaron Wilson from the Baltimore Sun), the initial figures certainly jump off the page. After all, Pitta’s career let alone his long-term salary was in jeopardy roughly eight months ago after he suffered a fractured, dislocated right hip.

The credit goes to Pitta for not only making a remarkable recovery but gutting out the final four games of the season. Though he wasn’t at 100%, the tough-as-nails TE threw his body around in icy conditions against the Vikings. Who can forget the third-down, diving catch he made to keep one of the final drives alive in the fourth quarter? Pitta took over that drive and capped it off with TD to give the Ravens the lead.

It’s clear that the Ravens didn’t forget those moments when they hammered out his new contract at the negotiating table. They may have even overvalued him from a guaranteed salary standpoint. But there is more than meets the eye when you really analyze what this contract represents.

This is a great example of an organization sticking with a player through major adversity and ultimately rewarding him for his hard work. It’s also a great example of looking beyond statistics to measure a player’s worth.

To date, Pitta has not put up top five TE numbers. The closest he came was in 2012, when he was on a torrid streak that carried the Ravens through their Super Bowl run. It was during that stretch that you realized that he is a difference-maker.

Pitta is not a physical freak like Jimmy Graham. He’s also not an oversized, runaway train like Rob Gronkowski. When you look at some of the other TEs like Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas, and Jordan Reed, they are all more athletic. There are also better blockers out there like Health Miller and Kyle Rudolph.

But Pitta is clutch. And he’s fearless. His hands are sure and he has a knack for finding the soft spots within coverage schemes. As a redzone target, the Ravens certainly missed his presence for much of the 2013 season. As a dependable safety valve on third downs, Joe Flacco missed him too.

There is something to be said for measuring a football player based on the important plays he makes. Whenever the Ravens have needed to make a play, Pitta has been the guy they’ve turned to in many instances.

Now he has a chance to get back to the place he was supposed to be at heading into last season. Remember that time? When Pitta was projected to break out and supplant Anquan Boldin as the team’s go-to possession receiver?

If Pitta is completely healthy (and he looked like he was getting there at the end of the year), there is no reason to think he won’t flourish in Gary Kubiak’s offense. This offense has made tight ends into Pro Bowlers.

Ultimately, though, it’s not all about the stats. It’s about making an impact when the game is on the line.

Pitta will have that chance in Baltimore for years to come.

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About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh
Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for Ravens24x7.com since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens' keys to success against each upcoming opponent. Dev started modestly as a sports...more

14 Raves on “Did The Ravens Overpay Pitta?

        • Rumor Ray on said:

          And had the Ravens Paid that or Boldin we might not have found Marlon Brown! I am happy we moved on and now have Marlon Brown in the mix. He is a solid 3 right now that could move into the 2 slot.

    • Tucker: M&T Sec 527 on said:

      No doubt Boldin was missed last season, but that ship has sailed – mostly cause he is on the downhill portion of his 30′s and Ozzie wouldn’t commit so much/so long to an aging guy. Had you told him that the O-line would totally shit the bed and kill the run game, and that we’d lose Ptta on the fiirst day of live training camp for 3/4 of the season, he probably would choose to have made Q happy. All the more reason that Ptta was not overpaid: there is no way we can let the best posession receiver walk 2 years in a row ( yes I know it was a “trade”). Let’s see how much the specific deal is spread out and backloaded. I’d bet the 2014 cap hit will end up under the tag figure for TEs (plus give Pitta & after agent props for not pursuingng the WR designation). Top 5 TE? Maybe not right now, especially after an injury season, but it won’t be long till his development and inflation end the debate.

      Plus the tag is still available for Monroe or even D. Smith, if needed.

  1. Fran the Fan on said:

    So if I read this correctly, Dev thinks Pitta was indeed overpaid. That’s hard to say without looking at contracts for comparable tight ends, and they are few out there. Jimmy Graham is better but is franchised, Gronk is injuring his way out of the league and may never get another contract from the Pats, Hernandez is permanently out of football (we hope), and the rest are not at contract time. So if we believe in Ozzie’s mantra of right player, right price, then Pitta was priced correctly.

    • Dev on said:

      Fran, the only aspect where I believe Pitta was overpaid was in the amount of guaranteed money. Even with that figure, we don’t know what the bonus amount is or how he is receiving the guaranteed money. The total sum of $32 million is in line with say, what Heath Miller got. Right now Pitta is the 9th highest paid TE. And that is exactly where he should be.

      By in large, my piece was aimed to point out that the deal was very fair. If anything, Pitta is vastly underrated. His value to the offense isn’t only reflected in the numbers he’s put up so far. That being said, I expect him to put up between 800-900 yards and around 6-8 TDs this coming season.

  2. Purplemore on said:

    Sorry to see Boldin go and I am over it. We over paid pitta. Glad pitta is a raven, but truth is we over paid. And now I am over that too.

    • CrabbyPatty on said:

      Could be worse, the Ravens could be dealing with a Jimmy Graham situation with Pitta… you think the Ravens overpaid for Pitta? Imagine them being forced to pay him WR money.

  3. Boldin Raver on said:

    Ya’ll don’t even know how they structured the contract and saying Ravens overpaid. If he gets 32 million,then sometime in Jan 2019 we’re all gonna be saying it was a steal. It’s like SeeBass said. Really nothing more need be said.

  4. Joshua on said:

    Dev:

    I think they are paying Pitta for what he can be in Kubiak’s offense…a chain moving, clutch receiver. He has excellent chemistry with Flacco, and the two of them should continue to grow nicely as the next few years go by. Pitta would have been highly sought after had he reached free agency. One thing the Ravens’ front office has proven over the years is they are willing to pay those they want to keep. Retaining Pitta, even at this contract, was a very wise move.

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