Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta has played in just seven games in the past three seasons because of hip problems. He sat out for the entire 2015 season, bringing his future with the team into question.
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Pitta Wants to Return in 2016
Thursday, Feb. 18
I definitely do want to be on the field playing football. That's something that I really want to happen.
Now, if it happens or not, I don't know yet, and as much as I want to be on the field, there's also an element of being smart and weighing the risks, which there certainly are big risks in my case. I’m going to do everything on my end to get out there and play, but it’s not all in my hands. Some of it will be involving the doctors and what they have to say also.
We’ve got a couple months to get that all ironed out and figure out what we’re going to do. I really couldn’t tell you one way or the other right now.
According to Spotrac, Pitta is signed through the 2018 season as part of a five-year, $32 million contract he inked before the 2014 season. He's set to earn $5 million in 2016 and $5.5 million in both 2017 and 2018.
For that kind of money, the Ravens might not be willing to take Pitta back, given his injury history. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun believes Pitta would have to agree to a new contract if he wants to return to Baltimore.
Since entering the league in 2010, Pitta has played just two full 16-game seasons. In those years, he was a solid contributor, recording a combined 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
Pitta said the thought of walking away is tough to stomach (via Ellison):
I’m certainly not ready to walk away. That part of it would be tough. Not being a part of that locker room, not being a part of that organization will be hard. It’s certainly going to be tough if I do have to walk away and it’s a decision that I’m not going to be able to make easily. But if I do have to walk away, I’ve certainly thought about that too and will be prepared if that happens.
Tight end is an important position in the Ravens offense. Since quarterback Joe Flacco took over in 2008, tight ends have had at least 64 targets in each season.
Baltimore has attempted to find a suitable replacement for Pitta by stocking up on young tight ends. In the past two drafts, the Ravens have selected three: Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.
The trio combined for 83 receptions and 833 receiving yards last year. So if things don't work out with Pitta, Baltimore has options heading into the 2016 season.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.