- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Ravens reporter
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't think he was taking a gamble last year when he turned down the team's last offer on an extension and played out the final year of his contract. Tight end Dennis Pitta, one of Flacco's closest friends on the team, can fill in the Super Bowl MVP on the risk involved in not re-signing before entering a contract year.
Pitta will miss the entire 2013 season after dislocating his hip in practice Saturday, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The Ravens were interested in reaching a long-term agreement with Pitta after putting a second-round tender on the restricted free agent in May.
It's understandable that Pitta wanted to test the free-agent market after the season. He had a breakthrough season in 2012, tying for ninth among tight ends with 61 receptions, 11th with 669 receiving yards and tying for sixth in touchdowns with seven. And he was expected to put up career numbers after the Ravens traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Pitta likely would have been in line for a big payday after the season, whether from the Ravens or another tight end-needy team. The five highest-paid tight ends average between $6.9 million and $7.5 million per season. Now, after a collision with safety James Ihedigbo in the first padded practice of training camp, Pitta has watched his value take a hit on what was a freak accident. When teams look at Pitta's résumé next offseason, he will have only one season with more than 40 catches. That's why this season -- one in which he could have caught 80 passes -- was so important for him.
Pitta should still get a decent contract next year; at 28, he's in the prime of his career. But, sadly for Pitta, he won't command the same type of deal because of one unfortunate play in training camp.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't think he was taking a gamble last year when he turned down the team's last offer on an extension and played out the final year of his contract.