The Ravens don't want Dennis Pitta to hit the open market once free agency officially begins.
That's why he's a top contender to receive the team's franchise tag if a deal can't be reached before teams can start signing other players.
If the Ravens franchise Pitta this season, they'll owe him $6.7 million with the tight end designation. However, with Pitta lining up a lot at receiver, the former BYU standout could make a case that he should be tagged as a receiver, which would cost the franchise $11.5 million instead.
Beginning Monday, NFL teams can start designating the franchise tag at their discretion. They have until March 3 to do so, meaning there's a bit of time before possibly coming to that. And even if a player gets the tag, it can be lifted if a deal is reached before July 15.
The Ravens have used the tag before prior to signing long-term deals in the past, specifically with Haloti Ngata and Ray Rice. So if Pitta gets the tag, it doesn't necessarily mean he's stuck with it all season.
One thing that should help Pitta avoid the tag is the fact the Ravens reached an extension with Terrell Suggs. This will free up some cap room and give the Ravens more money to spend.
All things considered, Pitta will be back with the Ravens in 2014. He just has to negotiate how secure his job will be after that.