In 2010, with the clock ticking on the Todd Heap era, and a young quarterback about to go into his third-year, general manager Ozzie Newsome decided to double-dip on the tight end department on draft day. The former Hall of Famer at that position took Ed Dickson out of Oregon in the 3rd-round and Dennis Pitta out of BYU in the 4th-round of that draft. The Ravens felt they had their two tight ends of the future with Joe Flacco at the helm for years to come, and the Ravens released Heap after the 2010 season to begin the Dickson and Pitta tandem.
Unfortunately, one half of the tandem didn't pan out as planned. Dickson got off to a good start in 2011, and was the starting tight end ahead of Pitta. As the year went along, Flacco looked more at Pitta's way, while Dickson struggled to hold on to the football.
A year later, Dickson was mainly a blocker in 2012, and the Pitta and Flacco chemistry was a reason for succes, en route to the Ravens winning the Super Bowl.
Dickson has been the backup tight end to Greg Olsen since 2014, and he will now take over as the starter with Olsen on the shelf with a broken foot, keeping him out of action for eight weeks.
While Dickson's career hasn’t been an outright bust, that didn't stop him from telling the Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person that he feels more appreciated in Carolina than he ever was in Baltimore. Going as far as blaming John Harbaugh and the coaches for his failures. Dickson stated:
"I blame it on the coordinator and the head coach and everybody that didn't see what they had. They could have at least had two great tight ends there for years to come. They could've split it down the middle and said, you know what, we can have two good guys. When they paid Dennis that money, we basically had identical stats."
The Ravens tried to have two good tight ends, it's what Ozzie Newsome was going for. However, Baltimore got one, and his name wasn't Ed Dickson. Here's the problem with Dickson's statements, the Ravens gave him a shot to finally produce when Pitta suffered his first hip dislocation in 2013. Baltimore did sign veteran Dallas Clark as the backup, but it was Dickson's job to pick up the slack for Pitta. He failed, and continued his trend of drops throughout the 2013 season. Flacco would also look more often to the 34-year old Clark, and Pitta would return to the field later that season.
As far as Pitta's contract, I think we can all agree it was a giant mistake to give Pitta a big 5-year, $32 million extension just one year after he suffered the first hip fracture. Baltimore took a massive gamble, and sadly, Pitta would suffer two more hip injuries, ending his Ravens career. From 2010-2013, Dickson caught 111 receptions, 1,178 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Pitta during that same stretch, caught 122 receptions, 1,244 yards, and 11 touchdowns.
Yes, while Pitta's stats are better, Dickson isn't wrong when he says both of their stats are similar. However, the Ravens paid Pitta because he was the better producer, he had better talent, and the most chemistry with Flacco. More importantly, though, Pitta could catch.
Dickson got off to a good start with the Ravens in 2010 and the first part of 2011, but his talent was plagued by drops and his draft colleague quickly emerged as the better option. That contract could've been done better, but the Ravens were always going to pay Pitta over Dickson, and his lack of production made it easier for Ozzie to let him go after 2013.
This might be the last opportunity for the former 3rd-round pick out of Oregon to show he can still be a starting caliber tight end in the NFL, and bring back what he once had at first as a Raven. What he first needs to do, is put responsibility on himself and not blame others for his struggles. It's not the coaches job to teach you how to catch a football, that's on the player himself. Ed Dickson needs to finally realize that fact if he wants to succeed in Greg Olsen's absence. The Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton certainly hope he does.