The start of free agency is only a few weeks away, which means you will see the release of certain veterans in the coming days from NFL teams to try make cap room and make a move or two come March 9th. One of those teams will be the Baltimore Ravens, and they have a long list of veterans that will be on the chopping block. One of those is the teams starting tight end from BYU: Dennis Pitta.
Sources told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo that the Ravens "may balk" at Pitta's $5.5 million salary he is due for next season. Sending him into the free agent market for the first time in his career. Pitta has been with the team since 2010 and his career got off to a good start. He became quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite target and helped the team win Super Bowl XLVII.
Then it took a horrible turn for Pitta after he suffered two hip dislocations in 2013 and 2014, causing to him to miss all of the 2015 season. Pitta proceeded to show heart and guts by coming back last season and became a factor in the offense. Sadly, as you would expect form someone coming back from two devastating and career altering injuries, Pitta was not the same player in 2016. Even though he had a career high 86 receptions, he was 28th in yards per catch at 8.5 and only grabbed two touchdown catches. Both coming in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins.
There is still a chance the Ravens keep Pitta and you can make the case that Baltimore really should retain the 7-year tight end. Flacco and Pitta have very good chemistry together, making him a reliable target for Flacco. Something he really doesn't have at the moment. Despite Pitta's loss of speed, he is still a chain-mover.
You also don't have to look at what Pitta can still do if you are thinking about retaining him, just look at the depth chart at tight end after Pitta. Ben Watson (who could also be released), Maxx Williams, and Crockett Gillmore are both coming off injury riddled seasons. While these two did step up behind Pitta in 2016, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller were both suspended to begin the year. Boyle has been suspended twice.
There are pros and cons in releasing Pitta, general manager Ozzie Newsome has a difficult decision to make. If Newsome decides to release his starting tight end, he is either betting on a 36-year old tight end coming off a torn Achilles tendon or one of the young bucks that have shown their talent but haven't been able to stay on the field.
For certain, Pitta's fate will be decided soon.