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Pitta’s deal reflects tight end franchise tag

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While it likely will do nothing to break the impasse lingering between the Saints and tight end Jimmy Graham, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta opted to solve the potential tight-end-or-receiver conundrum under the franchise tag by signing a five-year deal.

A league source tells PFT that the contract will average between $6 and $7 million per year.  Multiple reports have pegged the number at the $6.5 million midpoint.

Coincidentally, that’s roughly the same ballpark as the expected tight end franchise tag for 2014.

Why did Pitta blink in the face of what could have been not $33 million over five years but more than $11 million for only one season?  Because it’s hard to walk away from the security that comes with a long-term contract — especially when there was a chance his compensation under the franchise tag would have been only $6.5 million.

And so for the second straight year on the Friday preceding the deadline for applying the franchise tag, the Ravens struck a deal that allows them to avoid issuing the tender.  Last year, quarterback Joe Flacco’s $120.6 million contract helped the Ravens skirt a difficult choice between exposing Flacco to the market under the non-exclusive franchise tag (someone surely would have given up two first-round picks for a crack at him) and setting the stage for paying out more than $80 million in three years via the exclusive version of the tag.

This time around, the Ravens did a deal that sidestepped the potential loss of a grievance that would have jacked up Pitta’s one-year take considerably.  The next question is whether the Saints will put a large enough offer on the table in the next 72 hours to persuade Graham to give up his ability to argue that he’s entitled to an eight-figure salary in 2014 and to accept the significant long-term security that comes from a deal that splits the difference annually between $6.5 million and $11 million.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m. ET:  Per a league source, the deal has a base value of $32 million over five years, which works out to an average of $6.4 million per year.

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49 Responses to “Pitta’s deal reflects tight end franchise tag”
  1. doe22us says: Feb 28, 2014 1:18 PM

    As, i have said before Graham will be the highest paid TE in the game when its all said and done, if Pita is averaging 6.5 or what ever, Graham’s will be significantly more. Pita is no Graham.

  2. scrummymustard says: Feb 28, 2014 1:20 PM

    I don’t know why Pitta keeps getting compared to Graham.

    Graham’s stats alone last year are nearly as good Pitta’s whole career. In fact Jimmy had more TD’s in 2013 than Pitta has in 4 years.

  3. anonymous135 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:20 PM

    Jimmy Graham has a case.. Pitta didn’t.

  4. connorchew says: Feb 28, 2014 1:23 PM


  5. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Feb 28, 2014 1:24 PM

    Heath Miller is a real tight end. These hybrids are a disgrace to the game. Heath is a best blocking tight end in the league and he has the best hands. No one is tougher than Heath Miller.

  6. Steeley McBeam says: Feb 28, 2014 1:24 PM

    Wow, overpay much? That’s like $2m per game last season.

    Pitta is not a top 5 TE and should not be making as much as a franchise TE. Why not just tag him?

  7. tjrogers09 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:25 PM

    I agree with all comment’s that Pitta is no Graham and I’m a Ravens fan. I’m just happy to see the deal got done and he’s with us for the next 5 years. Pitta still has some of the best hands in the league for a TE.

    Next Up-Monroe

  8. @Cereal_22 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:26 PM

    They certainly take care of their own. Pitta locked up at a reasonable rate ensures his long term future with the club.

  9. jm91rs says: Feb 28, 2014 1:27 PM

    If I were Graham I’d be working on a long term deal rather than letting someone else determine which tag gets applied. He can simply say “if Pitta gets 6.5, I want 9 or 10”.

  10. Denver Geldings - Super Bowl Castration... AGAIN!!!! says: Feb 28, 2014 1:28 PM

    So 35 catches, 300 yards, and 3 TDs per season will get you $6-$7 million per year???

  11. chawk12thman says: Feb 28, 2014 1:30 PM

    In hindsight, I wonder if a year ago if Baltimore should have franchised Flacco and gotten the two picks, kept Boldin and perhaps they could have made it back to the playoffs.

  12. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 28, 2014 1:36 PM

    Gee, that’s good news for Graham because now he can use that as a starting point for his deal. If that’s a TE deal for a guy who is not as good as him and not positioned as a WR as much as Graham can claim, then he should get the payday he wants. Plus Pitta has been injured and missed many games and he still gets this huge payday. The Saints are in a tough spot here because the Ravens once again overpaid another player.

  13. shaggytoodle says: Feb 28, 2014 1:36 PM

    The Saints should sign Graham. They got a guy that can move the chains.

    They also got some decent young WRs like Toon and Stills, I know they may not be true #1’s, but Brees can help make those guys play at a level that they wouldn’t elsewhere.

  14. djstat says: Feb 28, 2014 1:37 PM

    Pitta has been what the ravens asked of him as graham has been what the saints have asked. You cannot compare the system or the QB. Pitta has a ring and a Super Bowl td catch, graham doesnt

  15. eaa11 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:39 PM

    if monroe and smith get signed , this is already a successful off season. I like the moves. Salary cap jump doesn’t hurt either *winks at goodell*

  16. 4thand29 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:39 PM

    That’s probably a little high for Pitta, but there’s no way they could let him go. Were he to sign elsewhere, Torrey Smith would be the only proven receiving option left on the offense (they do still have Rice, but he might be done). With the expected cap increases over the next few years, this is all in all a fair and reasonable deal.

  17. SmashMouthFootball says: Feb 28, 2014 1:42 PM

    Oh my goodness, how did Flacco’s contract allow for anyone to get a new deal let alone a new 5 year deal? (that’s sarcasm)

    Glad this got done. Glad the Ravens are making the hard choices (Leach and McClain) to get this done. This seems like a good contract. Good for Pitta, good for Ravens and they skip any bad blood with the franchise tag.

    This will stir up the haters…In Ozzie We Trust!!

  18. dwarftosser says: Feb 28, 2014 1:44 PM

    That’s a lot of money for a player like Pitta. Would another team have really paid him that? It sure seems like the Ravens are getting into a bad habit of over paying their home grown players..

  19. ralphtherealravenfan says: Feb 28, 2014 1:50 PM

    Again, a case where the numbers don’t tell the whole story. He makes catches to keep drives alive, not necessarily 40 yard chunks like Graham does. N.O. runs a different offense altogether than the Ravens. I will point out that in our last playoff run, he caught 3 touchdowns during that postseason. Graham did nothing of the sort when he played Seattle last year. It’s not always about the regular season numbers. Ask Peyton.

  20. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Feb 28, 2014 1:50 PM

    I’m so glad my team, you know, actually brings home world championships.

    Go Steelers!

  21. kingbrees9 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:20 PM

    Good for pita to get a good long term contract . I wish Graham loved his team enough to settle for 10 mil a year a 5 year 50 mil deal is good enough . Its selfish to destroy your team just so that you can get paid like a wr . No doubt he deserves the money for what he’s done but he can’t continue to play good if we can’t bring in more talent . And for the jg haters the seahawks shut down everyone’s top receivers including The so called 1 offense of all time and jg was still playing through his injury . The saints need to resign jg if he lowers his price and find us some new receiving talent . If the saints had that jg would be unstoppable colston and stills are fine but we need a new franchise wr

  22. ghost26 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:32 PM

    Whether you like the Ravens or not (I don’t) signing Pitta to a 5 yr/$32 Million deal was a solid move by Ozzie. He has very good hands & more importantly Flacco trusts him. They also have plenty of room to keep Monroe but that still doesn’t solve their problems w/ their running game which killed this team last year.

    BTW–I’d be extremely surprised if they let Jacoby Jones go who seems to always come up big for them on ST’s

  23. thraiderskin says: Feb 28, 2014 2:44 PM

    When the ball is snapped, Graham is in the position of a WR the vast majority of the time… the saints could at least offer him something in between the TE and WR tag as a starting point.

  24. cunningben says: Feb 28, 2014 2:45 PM

    3rd best TE in the league behind Ruldolph and Graham. Nice signing.

  25. trollaikman8 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:49 PM

    Pitta has been known to block a defender once or twice a game.
    Graham plays outside the hashes and is a system baby.

  26. Noel Thomas says: Feb 28, 2014 3:35 PM

    Pittsburgh is the City of Chumps says: Heath Miller is a real tight end. Heath is a best blocking tight end in the league and he has the best hands.

    Ha ha. Right on! Steelers have the best tight end in the NFL, and were still only 8-8, because their QB is one of the worst in the NFL, and their defense is so full of holes and frou-frou players they are nicknamed the Lace Curtain.

  27. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 28, 2014 3:44 PM

    Hope he doesn’t suffer from that

  28. bigbenownsthenfl says: Feb 28, 2014 4:04 PM

    6 lombardis to 2 lombardis. argument over!

  29. richabbs says: Feb 28, 2014 4:13 PM

    I always wondered why Steeler fans always had to come to every Raven news page and mouth off, but then it dawned on me that they are just envious of Baltimore’s success, since anyway you look at it, Baltimore has had more success than Pittsburgh in the NFL.

    Comparison of Teams:

    Steelers: 80 years in existence (1933-2013), overall winning percentage: .523; 6 champions – a championship every 13.33 years.

    Ravens: 18 years in existence (1996-2013), overall winning percentage: .550; 2 champions – a championship every 9 years.

    Comparison of Cities:

    Pittsburgh: 80 years with a team (1933-2013), overall winning percentage: .523; 6 champions – a championship every 13.33 years.

    Baltimore: 48 years with a team (Colts 1953-1983; Ravens 1996-2013), overall winning percentage: .539; 5 champions – a championship every 9.6 years.

  30. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 28, 2014 4:40 PM

    Ravens post-season record vs Steelers: 0-3
    Enough already richabbs, you’re embarrassing yourself with those cherry-picked stats.

  31. watermelon1 says: Feb 28, 2014 5:19 PM

    6.4 is not splitting the difference. Between 6 and 11 per season.

    Should have held out until they were forced to tag him as receiver or until they upped the yearly pay to around 8 million.

  32. s1138 says: Feb 28, 2014 7:01 PM

    Wow, so that’s like roughly 1.5 mil per touchdown. He got a great deal.

  33. jmblosser82 says: Feb 28, 2014 8:46 PM

    Slightly over paid for a guy coming off a nasty injury but they need his skill if he can return to form. In 2012 Pitta along with Boldin were the big third down targets and they obviously missed those guys last year.

    richabbs, comparing the nfl if the last 20 years to 80 years ago us really apples to oranges. Yea steelers sucked for 40 years. In the last 40 years tho, Steelers are 6-2 in championships. In the last 10 years the Steelers have more appearances in the SB then the Ravens in franchise history. The games is so much different today then it was 15 years ago.

    Noel Thomas, Ben one of the worst QBs in the NFL? Now that’s the biggest troll statement ever. Heath is a bad player because the team was 8-8? He missed the first 2 games and when he returned the offense started to click. The defense is aging, but down the stretch they were lights out.

  34. enoughofthatalready says: Feb 28, 2014 9:14 PM

    Noel….the guy making the Miller statement is not a real Steelers fan. The name should give it away. Plus Ben is the worst QB? I don’t remember him throwing 22 INTS, fumbling the ball away 8 times and taking 48 sacks last year. That was Flacco.

  35. enoughofthatalready says: Feb 28, 2014 9:15 PM

    Cunningben…… about Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley, Gronkowski, and others?

  36. crownofthehelmet says: Mar 1, 2014 10:39 AM

    Every TE listed in these comments have flaws and/or weaknesses, except for Miller. Honestly, name one he has. Sure, Graham is faster, others catch more, bigger, etc., but as a pure TE, nobody is a better package.

  37. steelcurtainn says: Mar 1, 2014 10:56 AM

    oz is going senile. This guy and his agent took him to the bank. Its just to bad for him he will be watching the postseason from his couch the next few seasons.

  38. jacktheraven says: Mar 2, 2014 12:42 PM

    H.Miller isn’t even the conversation. Too slow.

  39. jmblosser82 says: Mar 2, 2014 3:23 PM

    Miller blocks very well, good route runner, great hands, moves the chains, and a threat in the red zone. There are better TEs at receiving, blocking, and route running but not very many in term if the complete package.

  40. jacktheraven says: Mar 2, 2014 6:24 PM

    Steeler fans & Miller, I get it. But, he’s too old, slow and injury prone. Should have retired with Todd Heap. But, if you fans want to keep holding on to your ” complete package” favorites. Good luck to a 3rd 8-8 season.

  41. stuartscottslefteye says: Mar 2, 2014 7:47 PM

    Many fail to realize that the majority of the Steeler’s Lombardis were earned during the pre-salary cap era. Most Steeler fans also speak as if Super Bowl IX was the birth of their franchise and seldom refer to the 40+ years of mediocrity (in fact 30+ non-winning seasons their prior 40 years).

    So crownofthehelmet….kinda the pot calling the kettle black, eh?

  42. stuartscottslefteye says: Mar 2, 2014 7:49 PM

    And let’s face it….one of those Lombardis should belong to Seattle.

  43. jmblosser82 says: Mar 2, 2014 8:17 PM

    stuartscottslefteye, the Seahawks had their chances, 1 questionable call does not negate the rest if the game.

    JacktheRaven, not sure why you think he should’ve retired 3 years ago. He’s been productive in the pass game and blocking. He is no Gronk in the pass game, but he can still do what is needed. They need his replacement very soon, but is far from done.

  44. jmblosser82 says: Mar 2, 2014 8:34 PM

    JacktheRaven, if Heath was the line person making this a 8-8 team then I would be all for dropping the weight. Truth is it’s the aging secondary and the run defense. The offense was rolling after the bye week. They were 1 game out if the playoffs the last 2 years and still have a better future then the Ravens at this point.

  45. stuartscottslefteye says: Mar 2, 2014 10:06 PM

    Uhhhh… jmblosser82 – I beg to differ when the game official (Bill Leavy) says the following in regards to his performance during that game….

    “It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the outcome of the game, and as an official you never want to do that…”

    “It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly,” “I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better.”

  46. jmblosser82 says: Mar 3, 2014 11:27 AM

    stuartscottslefteye, beg to differ all you want, Seattle had ample chances and can’t blame the game on a questionable call. The whole game for both teams had the same standards on the officiating

  47. jacktheraven says: Mar 3, 2014 11:35 AM

    I will agree that the Steelers won the SB over the Seahawks. It’s time to let the officials out of the discussion. Last time I looked at the record book, Steelers won. Period.

  48. raqaiw says: Mar 3, 2014 1:24 PM

    The steelers had less yards, less first downs, and more turnovers than Seattle after the first half, but still led the game thanks to the ridiculous officiating in that SB. Look it up.

  49. jmblosser82 says: Mar 3, 2014 8:49 PM

    raqaiw, Seattle had their chances and didn’t convert. Lots of yards does not equal lots of points.

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