Dennis Pitta: Deciphering Conflicting Reports on Playing Career


Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) gets tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) in the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one Ravens story line this offseason that just keeps getting harder and harder to decipher, it’s the future of tight end Dennis Pitta.  If it seems like every time we hear some encouraging words about Pitta’s potential return to the field, they are quickly contradicted by some, well, unencouraging ones.

Let’s retrace the story line, beginning a mere five weeks following the second hip surgery of Dennis Pitta’s career, way back in October of last year.  Doctors were unsure if Pitta would be physically able to play football again, yet in December Pitta was optimistic and planning to return in 2015.  John Harbaugh was similarly rosy on the topic.

"“Dennis can play again,” Harbaugh said. “Dennis has told me that he wants to play again.”"

That confidence quickly turned to cautioned optimism, however, as the new year passed.

"“We want to make sure he’s going to be totally healthy, totally safe as much is as reasonable in football to make sure that hip is sound and everything before our doctors would ever clear him,” coach John Harbaugh said. “In the end, it will be up to the doctors and Dennis to determine that.”"

A mere week later, Harbaugh told reporters that he expected a decision in a couple of weeks.  Nearly a month afterward, Pitta’s future was still up in the air, and Harbaugh announced that there was nothing definitive to announce.  Several days later, general manager Ozzie Newsome told the press that the team was in “wait-an-see” mode, and wouldn’t know anything until the summer.

Once April rolled around, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti took a slightly graver tone, saying that he was “praying” for Dennis Pitta’s recovery.  Suddenly, the Ravens were merely hopeful that Pitta would give them an answer by the summer.

But then came a bit of a surprise, as Pitta was present at voluntary workouts, though he was only there to lift weights.  Pitta told the press that it was still to early to tell if he would be able to play in 2015.

Roughly a week later, the Ravens threw cold water on any optimism when they used two of their nine draft picks on tight ends.

Pitta has remained optimistic regarding his potential to play again, however.

"“I feel good. But obviously it’s a process,” Pitta said. “I have an idea in mind of where I’d like to be in a couple months, but at the same time you don’t know.”"

Regardless, some expect Pitta to at least begin the 2015 season on the reserve/PUP list.  The move, which would allow the Ravens to stash Pitta for the first six weeks of the season, makes a lot of sense.  It would give him more time to recover and allow the team to make a more informed decision.

If Dennis Pitta is fully healthy and looks good in practice, the Ravens could activate him for week 7 and slowly ease him back into games.  With a sudden glut at the tight end position, it’s not like the team is desperate for him to return.  If anything, they have set themselves up to the point where any contribution is a bonus.

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It seems hard to read the tea leaves here because it’s clear that neither Dennis Pitta nor the Ravens truly know what Pitta’s future will hold.  His $4 million dollar salary for 2015 is fully guaranteed, so there’s no need to rush and make any sort of rash decision.

So it may be another several months before we know what the future holds for the soon to be 30 year old tight end.  It’s really a 50/50 call at this point.  Pitta could just as easily decide that retiring and putting his family’s concerns to rest is the best call.  The lure of playing the game we love is no doubt strong, and that is what is likely keeping Dennis Pitta from simply hanging up the cleats.

Next: Ravens Depth Chart Projections: Tight End

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