The AFC North blog is wrapping up its series this week in which we looked at one player on each team in the division who should be the priority for an extension before the season ends:
The Baltimore Ravens have seven current or former starters who are scheduled to be free agents in 2014. At the top of the list is tight end Dennis Pitta. He signed his second-round restricted free-agent tender worth $2.023 million and figures to make much more than that if he reaches free agency. Last season, Pitta had a breakthrough season, ranking 10th among tight ends with 61 receptions, 11th with 669 receiving yards and tied for sixth with seven touchdowns.
Pitta, who turns 28 in a couple of days, is hitting the prime of his career. With Anquan Boldin gone, Pitta could become the team's leading receiver and Joe Flacco's favorite target in the red zone. It would be in the Ravens' best interest to sign him before his value goes up after another big year. But, if Pitta is like his close friend Flacco, he will take the gamble and see what his market is after the season. The top five highest-paid tight ends average between $6.9 million and $7.5 million per season.
Another target for an extension is offensive tackle Michael Oher. The tough part here is the Ravens will want to pay him as a right tackle and Oher may think other teams will give him left tackle money. While the Ravens won with Oher on the left side, last season proved right tackle is his best spot. In 16 regular-season games last season at left tackle, Oher allowed 10 sacks (tied for third-most in the NFL) and committed nine penalties (tied for 11th among tackles), according to Pro Football Focus. When Bryant McKinnie was made the starting left tackle in the playoffs, Oher gave up only one sack in four postseason games after moving to right tackle.