Re-signing Dennis Pitta is reportedly one of the Ravens' top priorities this offseason, but a deal isn't close. Baltimore and the tight end are "far apart" on contract numbers, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
Although the Ravens have some salary cap space to work with, they have a number of key pending free agents. Pitta is among that crop, although his negotiations could be more complex than others. The 28-year-old played in just four games last season after suffering a serious hip injury early in training camp. While injury concerns could play a role in contract discussions, Pitta's usage may be an even bigger factor. Although he's listed as a tight end, Pitta was split out wide as a wide receiver the majority of his 2013 snaps.
That fact could complicate negotiations, especially if the Ravens use the franchise tag on Pitta. According to Wilson, a source predicted the Ravens would use theirs on Pitta if the two sides are unable to come to a deal by the franchise tag deadline on March 3. If that happens, Pitta is expected to file a grievance to be designated as a wide receiver instead of a tight end, according to Wilson. That is a significant factor as the franchise tag for a wide receiver is expected to cost roughly $11.5 million, and nearly $5 million more than the price for a tight end. The Ravens have some room to work with, but a $5 million unknown could lead them to get a deal done soon rather than gamble with the franchise tag.
Pitta proved to be a valuable piece during Baltimore's Super Bowl run in 2012. He set career-highs that season with 61 receptions for 669 yards. He also played a key role in the playoffs, catching 14 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns in four games. Although he was limited to just four games last season, he still finished with 20 receptions, showing off his chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco.
In addition to Pitta, left tackle Eugene Monroe, right tackle Michael Oher, linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive end Arthur Brown are thought to be the Ravens top priorities. According to Wilson, the Ravens have roughly $16 million in salary cap space to work with. Baltimore added nearly $5 million in cap space on Monday by agreeing to a contract extension with Terrell Suggs.