Dennis Pitta signed a five-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Friday, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. He was expected to be one of the top available tight ends at the start of the free agency period, and perhaps the best after Jimmy Graham.
There is no official word yet on how much Pitta will be paid, though Wilson cites league sources who claim the contract is worth $32 million, which is close to the $6.5 million per season figure that NFL.com's Ian Rapoport estimated.
The Ravens have used Pitta all over the field, and Pitta was considered a risk to file a grievance if the team tagged him as a tight end at Monday's franchise tag deadline. The tag would have locked him in to a roughly $7 million contract for one year, as opposed to an expected $11.5 million figure for wideouts.
2013 season review
Pitta suffered a dislocated hip on the third day of training camp. The injury was initially expected to cause him to miss the entire season, but he was able to return for the final four weeks of the regular season. Pitta proved to be one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets during the 2012 season and playoff run. The two didn't quite pick up right where they left off, but Pitta didn't take long to make an impact. He caught 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. Translated to a full season, Pitta would have finished with 80 catches for 676 yards and four touchdowns.
The Ravens used Pitta all over the field once he returned. According to Aaron Wilson, Pitta played 111 snaps out of the slot, six split out wide, 40 lined up as a traditional tight end and six in the backfield. Based on where he lined up, Pitta's camp could have argued that he was used like a wide receiver and should thus be paid as such if the Ravens had tagged him.
A fourth-round pick out of BYU, Pitta signed a three-year, $1.586 million deal as a rookie. He was a restricted free agent last season and played the year on a one-year deal worth $2.023 million. The top tight ends in the league earn in excess of $7 million per season. Most solid starters who are beyond their rookie contract make at least $4 million per season.
New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has publicly praised Pitta since being hired, and had said that the tight end would play a major role in the offense if he returned. Pitta might have had several suitors had he hit free agency. With Tony Gonzalez retiring, many believed the Atlanta Falcons would have been in the market. The New York Jets, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals might have also had interest in Pitta.