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Ravens under the microscope: Best case, worst case for TE Dennis Pitta

Ravens under the microscope: Best case, worst case for TE Dennis Pitta

As we countdown to training camp, Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka will take turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope this month.

They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day. They’ll begin with players looking to carve out a role, or a roster spot. They’ll end with the Ravens’ most important players, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE - Dennis Pitta, seventh-year tight end

Best-case scenario: Pitta is one of the top two tight ends, returning to his 2012 form with 40-plus catches.

Why it could happen:

Pitta has spent the past two years in grueling rehabilitation from two major hip injuries. Others have counted him out, but he has consistently said he hopes to play again. He took part in OTAs and minicamp and ran well. There was no contact, but there was nothing to indicate he couldn't suit up this fall.

If Pitta is healthy, Joe Flacco will want him on the field, as he has always been one of Flacco's favorite targets. Pitta is a sure-handed receiver who made a career-high 61 catches in 2012. The Ravens speed receivers should open up space underneath, where Pitta thrives. Pitta's resurgence would be one of the feel-good stories of the year.

Worst-case scenario: Pitta is forced to retire

Why it could happen:

No one knows how Pitta's hip will respond once the daily grind and full contact begins in training camp. Granted, his second injury came when he crumpled to the ground at Cleveland with no contact. It's possible that Pitta, the Ravens and doctors will conclude that, despite all his rehabilitation, the hip simply isn't responding at the level necessary to play.

Pitta hasn't played a down in almost two years and has appeared in seven games since 2012. At age 31, can he shake off the rust? And any injury setback almost certainly is a career-ender. The Ravens already have Ben Watson, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams, so the tight ends group is in good hands regardless of Pitta's future.


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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?