The Baltimore Ravens inked Terrell Suggs to a five-year, $28 million contract on Monday, which means their top priority now likely is figuring out a way to re-sign tight end Dennis Pitta, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. Apparently, the two sides are chatting but have a long way to go.
"The Ravens are in active talks with tight end Dennis Pitta, but remain 'far apart' on numbers, according to sources," wrote Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
"Unless that financial gap is bridged during a two-week window to use the franchise tag that began Monday and ends with an NFL deadline of March 3, a source predicted that the Ravens will designate Pitta as their franchise player. Should that happen, a source predicted that Pitta would file a grievance through the NFL Players Association to be designated at the wide receiver franchise number of $11.5 million instead of the tight end tag of $6.709 million."
As is the well-documented case with New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham, Pitta lined up more often in the slot than the traditional tight-end spot last season, so a case could be made that they technically are slot receivers and not tight ends. If Pitta (or Graham) makes that case, a binding decision would be made by an arbitrator.
ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley takes a look at how the money breaks down for Pitta and the Ravens in this process:
"The question with Pitta is how much would it cost the Ravens to tag him. Pitta could make the case that he deserves to be tagged as a wide receiver ($11.5 million) and not as a tight end ($6.7 million) because he primarily lined up in the slot last season. The best-case scenario is for the Ravens to reach a long-term deal before the March 3 deadline to use the tag. Pitta is expected to command a contract worth $4 million to $5 million per season if he reached free agency. If the Ravens franchise Pitta, they'd have until July 15 to negotiate an extension with him."