Using Franchise Tag On Dennis Pitta Would Be A Mistake

Posted on January 14, 2014 by Phil Gentile

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Ravens offense wasn't the same in 2013 and one of the big reasons why was the absence of Dennis Pitta. Pitta missed the first twelve games of the season following a hip injury in training camp after being Flacco's favorite target in 2012. Now as Pitta is about to hit free agency do the Ravens really want to use their franchise tag on the tight end given their salary cap situation? If they do they are making a huge mistake.

As you may or may not know, each team is given the opportunity to use the franchise tag on one player per offseason, which would give the Ravens control over the young talented pass catcher for another season and pay Dennis Pitta the average salary of the top five players at his position. Here's what that number would look like thanks to our friends from Over The Cap.

Top 2014 Tight End Cap Hits vs. Tight End Tags

Heath MillerSteelers$9.47 Million
Tony GonzalezFalcons$8.75 Million
Jason WittenCowboys$8.41 Million
Marcedes LewisJaguars$8.25 Million
Greg OlsenPanthers$7.80 Million

Franchise Tag

Tight End

$6.71 Million

NFL teams were informed at an NFL meeting on Dec. 11 that the 2014 salary cap is projected to be $126.3 million. That would mean at roughly $38.71 million, the 2014 contracts of Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Marshal Yanda, and Pitta would equal almost 1/3 of the team's salary cap. That would be fine if....ya know.....they didn't need to pay 49 other guys! Also most of Pitta's snaps are actually at wide receiver, which could make his franchise tag more like $11.6 million.

The Ravens have used the franchise tag in the past on guys like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Rice Rice. Each time the team has used the extra time the franchise gives them to work out long-term deals with the players.

I love Dennis Pitta and would enjoy seeing him continue to play here in Baltimore but giving him the franchise tag doesn't make much financial sense. The Ravens want sustained success and that becomes more and more difficult with each hefty contract they give out. Is Pitta one of the better offensive weapons the Ravens have had in recent memory? Without a doubt but he's not irreplaceable. Hopefully the Ravens can reach a long term deal with Dennis Pitta to keep him in a Ravens uniform. The Ravens would be able to use the franchise tag anywhere between February 17th and March 3rd. Let's hope they make the right decision.

next up:

Top Five Center Prospects For Ravens In 2014 NFL Draft

January 12, 2014

Ravens could look to these NFL Draft prospects to replace Gradkowski


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