Pitta (hip) was released with a injury waiver by the Ravens on Wednesday, Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official site reports.
Pitta's tenure with the Ravens ends after the tight end dislocated his hip last week at OTAs. It's the third hip injury in the past four years for Pitta, putting the future of his career into question at this point. The 31-year-old was coming off his best season with the Ravens, as he recorded a franchise-best and NFL-leading 86 receptions for tight ends. Pitta was a fourth-round selection by the Ravens in 2010 and totaled 224 receptions for 2,098 yards and 13 touchdowns over his six-year stint with the team. Not to mention, he was an integral part of the Ravens' Super Bowl Championship run back in 2013, catching a touchdown in the contest. The Ravens are now left with veteran Ben Watson at tight end, who himself is recovering from an Achilles injury, which could bring Crockett Gilmore (shoulder) and Maxx Williams (knee) into the fold this season.
Pitta received confirmation Friday that he dislocated his hip, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
Pitta suffered the injury while laying out for a catch during Friday's OTA, and afterward he couldn't put any weight on the leg with the afflicted hip. The development marks his third hip injury in four years, which limited him to seven outings between 2013 and 2015 before logging a full 16-game slate last season. With relative health on his side, he put together the most substantial campaign of his career in 2016, racking up a franchise-best and NFL-leading 86 receptions for tight ends. Now, though, he may never take the field again, as doctors are attempting to "put (his) hip in," per Garafolo, who also noted that Pitta is "expected to retire." If Pitta indeed opts to hang up the cleats, Ben Watson (Achilles), Crockett Gillmore (shoulder) and Maxx Williams (knee) are the candidates to fill the void at tight end.
This is extremely concerning news for Pitta as this marks his third hip injury since 2013, and though the test results have yet to come back, the Ravens' website referred to Friday's injury as "major." Pitta reportedly injured his hip Friday laying out to make a catch, but there was no contact from any defenders in the area. He was unable to put any weight on his leg as he attempted to get back to the huddle. Pitta was primed to be the Ravens' top tight end once again after posting a career-high 86 receptions in 2016 -- his first full season back from his prior hip injuries. If Pitta's injury is as bad as feared, the Ravens will have to lean on the likes of Ben Watson, Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams to fill the void at tight end.
Entering the free agency period, there was a chance that Pitta could have been a salary cap casualty to make room for Baltimore's other signings on the other side of the ball. However, Pitta has agreed to restructure in order to remain with the Ravens for at least one more season. Pitta was the third-most targeted tight end in the league last season with 121. He ultimately reeled in 86 receptions for 729 yards as he primarily worked close to the line of scrimmage as quarterback Joe Flacco's safety valve. With Pitta back in the fold for Baltimore, it drives down the values of Maxx Williams, Crockett Gillmore, and Ben Watson.
After missing most of 2014 and all of 2015 with hip injuries, Pitta bounced back with a shockingly productive age-31 season, catching 86 passes for 729 yards and a pair of scores. His surprisingly large role was largely a product of injuries, with fellow tight ends Ben Watson (Achilles) and Crockett Gillmore (shoulder) combining for just seven appearances. Pitta and Watson may be asked to take pay cuts or else be released, as Baltimore has some younger (and cheaper) options at the position in the form of Gillmore, Nick Boyle and 2015 second-round selection Maxx Williams. Pitta accepted a salary reduction to stay with the team in 2016, only to recoup most of the money through performance incentives. He's scheduled for a $7.7 million cap hit in 2017.
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