Dennis Pitta was absolutely worth the price

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
11:00
AM ET
Does anyone really believe tight end Dennis Pitta wasn't worth $32 million?

It was a no-brainer for the Baltimore Ravens to sign Pitta to that five-year deal Friday. I understand that Pitta has only had one season with over 40 catches. He is also coming off a season where he missed most of the year with a serious hip injury.

But the Ravens didn't overpay. There is no way to make such an argument when looking at the numbers. Pitta is going to average $6.4 million per season. That's not the highest for tight ends. It's not even in the top five. Pitta's average places him No. 9, behind St. Louis' Jared Cook, Seattle's Zach Miller and Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis.

Take a look at the production from those tight ends last season:
  • Cook: 51 catches for 671 yards and five touchdowns
  • Miller: 33 catches for 387 yards and five touchdowns
  • Lewis: 25 catches for 359 yards and four touchdowns

If Pitta is healthy in 2014, it's a safe bet that he's going to exceed those numbers. He'll likely end up as the Ravens' leading receiver, based on how he finished the 2012 season. In his last 12 games that season, Pitta caught 43 passes for 523 yards and eight touchdowns.

The fact that Pitta agreed to this modest deal before free agency shows that he either really wanted to stay in Baltimore or he didn't expect much interest in the open market. Perhaps it was a little of both. Pitta would have made $7.035 million under the franchise tag, which is more than his per-season average in this new deal.

Where the Ravens opened up the wallet is on the guaranteed money, which is reportedly $16 million. That's more than the amount given to Jason Witten ($13.5 million), Rob Gronkowski ($13.1 million) and Vernon Davis ($11.1 million). It's just not much of a risk to guarantee that type of money to someone like Pitta, who is a high-character player who reports to camps in shape.

Pitta is 28 and is in the prime of his career. He is a trusted target who comes up big on third downs and in the end zone. Last year, you could make the case that the Ravens overspent on quarterback Joe Flacco. This year, you can't do the same with Pitta. It was a great deal for the Ravens.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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