The Ravens aren’t traditionally averse to using the franchise tag, frequently employing the designation to avoid losing players to free agency and buy time to hammer out contracts.
Nearly one year after they didn’t have to use the tag before signing quarterback Joe Flacco to a $120.6 million contract last March, the Ravens’ most likely franchise player candidate is tight end Dennis Pitta. It would cost the Ravens $6.7 million in salary and cap space under a one-year franchise tender. It would also give the the team a negotiating deadline of July 15 to avoid having Pitta play the entire season under the franchise tag.
“The possibility of using the franchise tag is something that we might have to do,” Newsome said.
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Pitta proved that his hip was structurally sound after playing in four games at the end of the season, returning from a dislocated, fractured hip suffered in July that required surgery. He caught 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens want to sign Pitta, but know that it will be an expensive proposition, just as it will be with left tackle Eugene Monroe, another top priority.
“He still has his skills and the skill set to be a very productive receiver in this league,” Newsome said. “Going forward, we would like to have Dennis on our football team. He plays winning football. He’s a mismatch problem for defenses. We’d like to have him.”
Last March, outside linebacker Paul Kruger signed a $40.5 million contract to join the Cleveland Browns and inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe signed a $35 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.
“There are no guarantees,” Newsome said. “One thing about this business, we wanted Kruger and Ellerbe back last year, and we weren’t able to keep them.”