Dennis Pitta could be franchise tagged by Ravens

USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens may use their franchise tag for the eighth time in franchise history.

Ravens pending free-agent tight end Dennis Pitta could receive the franchise tag from the Ravens, speculates Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. Pitta is one of three Baltimore tight ends set to become a free agent in March.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome told reporters on Wednesday that he wanted Pitta to return, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. Newsome also alluded to the possibility of the tight end leaving in free agency, per Wilson. The franchise tag would lock Pitta up for the 2014 season and allow for the team and player to work on a deal without the threat of free agency. The tag is calculated at $6.06 million, according to OverTheCap.com.

Newsome is no stranger to using the tag, as the franchise has used it seven times during his tenure as general manager. Pitta has been a key part of the offense for the last three years and he was badly missed while recovering from a broken hip during the first 12 games of the season. The BYU alum had 20 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown in four games this season.

The tight end position has seen a healthy pay bump as the league has begun to use them more in receiving situations in recent years. St. Louis' Jared Cook is the most recent tight end to cash in with a five-year, $35.1 million contract this past offseason. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski received a six-year, $54 million in 2012 and Seattle's Zach Miller signed a five-year, $34 million contract in 2011. Miller and Gronkowski were given $13 million in guaranteed money, while Cook received $16 million. Pitta is likely to receive a contract a bit below that trio's earnings if he inks a long-term deal.

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