Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta said last week that he still hopes to resume his career after missing all of last season with his second major hip injury, but he remained vague about the prospects of doing so.
“There’s no timeline as far as when a decision is going to be made,” Pitta said as the Ravens cleared out their locker room last week. “We’ll give it some time this offseason, and I’ll certainly do some thinking and testing my body and hip, and we’ll see.”
If that sounds familiar, it's pretty much exactly what Pitta said last summer and fall as he tried to rehabilitate from his second dislocated hip.
“At this point, nothing has changed from when we last spoke,” he added. “I certainly have a desire to play and want to play and want to be a part of this team moving forward. But we’ll see how it plays out.”
Pitta, who signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal before the 2014 season, is due a base salary of $5 million next season and carries a $7.2 million cap figure for 2016. Those are huge numbers for someone who has played seven games in the past three years. He would appear to be a prime cap casualty, but the Ravens won't realize a ton of savings; there is $6.6 million in dead money to contend with if Pitta is let go, though they will realize some savings if he is deemed a post-June 1 cut. That would allow the Ravens to transfer $4.4 million of that dead money to 2017; that dead money isn't going away, it just becomes a question of when that bill would be paid.
The Ravens clearly are a better team with a healthy Pitta, who had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl season. But there is no guarantee -- or even likelihood -- that Pitta, who turns 31 in June, can return to the field after doctors essentially shut him down last season before he could ever come off the physically-unable-to-perform list.
The Ravens last year drafted two tight ends, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, an indication that they were prepared for life after Pitta. Those two showed promise this season as rookies, and with the emergence of Crockett Gillmore as the starter, the Ravens are well-stocked at tight end without Pitta.
Pitta acknowledged that he has had to wrestle with the prospect that his career is over, but isn't ready to declare that just yet.
"I feel good physically, and I feel like I could go out and run and all that," he said. "It’ll be about weighing the risks versus the rewards at this point. We’ll do some thinking over the next few months in the offseason, get with the doctors again and go from there.”
"At some point, we all move on from the game of football," he later added. "Hopefully, it’s not that soon for me, but if it is, I’ve certainly had to think about it and put some thought into it.”