Last month, the Ravens released long time tight end Dennis Pitta. Pitta was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He has played 66 games with 224 catches, 2,098 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Hip injuries have plagued Pitta during his career. The first coming on July 27th, 2013 during training camp. Dennis had surgery that night and since there was no ligament or cartilage damage, was not placed on the PUP list. Pitta was expected to miss the entire 2013 season, but he came back to play a career game, in week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings.
While playing against the Cleveland Browns on September 21st, 2014, Pitta left the game with a dislocated right hip. He underwent his second surgery in two years on the same hip and was placed on the PUP list. This ended his 2014 season that many thought would be his breakout year.
In November of 2015, doctors advised Pitta that it was unsafe to continue playing in the NFL. Later that night, Pitta was placed on the season ending injury report. While being advised that he should not play again, Pitta elected not to retire from the NFL and prepared for a comeback performance.
The 2016 season gave Pitta his chance to not only come back but to do so very boldly. He returned to the practice field on September 7th, 2016. Pitta would play in all 16 games for the Ravens, for only the third time in his career. He would also go on to set career highs in receptions (86) and in yards (729). Pitta’s 86 receptions would lead all NFL tight ends for the season.
June 2nd, 2017 Pitta dislocated his hip for the third time. Five days later, he was released by the Ravens. As of this writing, Pitta has not signed with a new team, nor retired.
So, how do the Ravens go about replacing someone like Pitta in their offense? Currently, they have 11 tight ends on the roster. It would seem the Ben Watson is the leading candidate to become the starting tight end, but Watson is 36 years old and still recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. I believe that it will be tight end by committee. Behind Watson, Crockett Gillmore has the most experience. Gillmore has played 34 games with 53 receptions for 634 yards. I think there will be some sort of rotation between Watson, Gillmore, Williams, and either Malleck or Burns if the Ravens keep the roster as it is now.
I would like to see the Ravens pursue free agent Gary Barnidge. Barnidge has only missed three games over the last five seasons. Let’s compare Barnidge and Pitta. Looks like a good addition!
Games 66 124
Receptions 224 178
Yards 2,098 2,258
Avg. 9.4 12.7
TD 13 14