As the Ravens work on long-term deals with Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, and as they continue to mold their roster, they must do so always under the specter of the salary cap.
As we noted the other day, the Ravens right now have just about 600,000 of cap space left, the lowest amount in the league. The key to success in the salary cap era is finding success on the cheap.
So, for the Ravens, who provides the most bang for the buck?
NFL.coms Brian McIntyre says it is the tight end duo of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.
Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are not in the same class as the New England Patriots' dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but they're a productive one, McIntyre writes. In their second seasons in the NFL, Pitta and Dickson combined for 94 receptions, 933 yards and eight touchdowns.
Plus, as McIntyre notes, each is due to make just over 500,000 this season, making them the teams biggest bargain in his eyes.
Dickson and Pitta emerged as a de facto No. 3 receiver for the Ravens last season, with one or the other frequently lining up in the slot and each producing far more than any receiver other than Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.
Dickson was a third-round pick out of Oregon in the 2010 draft, and Pitta, out of BYU, was taken one round later. The Ravens made a calculated gamble releasing popular Todd Heap before last season, but the Ravens wanted to cut costs and saw the potential of the two young tight ends.
Given the chance to play, they each delivered. Dickson had some ill-timed drops along the way, but still finished with 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns. Pitta seemed to develop chemistry with Flacco as the season progressed and ended up with 40 receptions for 405 yards and three scores. He also caught a touchdown in the AFC Championship game at New England.
All this for a little over 1 million total? In todays salary cap NFL, a bargain indeed.