Once upon a time, Dennis Pitta was a threat to opposing defenses. When he was healthy, his production showed as he contributed to the Ravens Super Bowl victory in 2012.
What happened after he got his first ring? One word — injuries — and a lot of them.
It’s fair to wonder which version of Dennis Pitta the Ravens will get in the 2016 season. Will he be Joe Flacco’s security blanket or will he spend most of the season on the sidelines yet again?
If you look at Pitta’s production in 2012, you can see why the Ravens have held on to him for so long. Then, Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during 16 games. Keep in mind, Pitta is a tight end, not a wide receiver. However, injuries since then have hampered Pitta from repeating that success.
In the 2013 and 2014 seasons combined, Pitta caught 36 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown. Last season, Pitta didn’t play a single snap when he received his second hip surgery.
The time is now for Pitta to come back to life. The Ravens know what he is capable of, but they’re going to need him to be healthy at some point.
In an effort to add more depth at the tight end position, the Ravens drafted Maxx Williams out of Minnesota in 2015 and signed former Saints tight end Ben Watson during this offseason in free agency.
Williams received limited action in his rookie season as he caught 32 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown. However, with one year of NFL experience under his belt, Williams’ production is primed for an upswing in 2016.
Ben Watson brings veteran leadership to the Ravens offense while bringing invaluable experience with him as well. Despite having 12 seasons of experience in the NFL, Ben Watson may have had his finest season ever in 2015 as he caught 74 balls for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Third year player Crockett Gillmore is also set to make noise in the cluster of tight ends as he caught 33 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.
Pitta will have his work cut out for him, having more competition surrounding him if he wants to secure his once safe starting position. With that being said, the Ravens have kept him around for the past three seasons for a reason. The Ravens know what Pitta is fully capable of when he can stay healthy.
The time is now for Pitta to prove that he is not a one-year-wonder. Unfortunately, if Pitta gets injured again or doesn’t play as well as Watson, Gillmore, and Williams, he may not be on the Ravens roster in 2017.
It’s now or never for Pitta at this point. The time is now. Will the Ravens be rewarded for their patience? We’ll find out soon enough.