Ravens coach John Harbaugh remains guardedly optimistic about the chances of retaining tight end Dennis Pitta and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.

The Ravens are in discussions with both pending unrestricted free agents. The Ravens are nowhere close to a deal as they continue to negotiate with Pitta, and they haven't reached an advanced stage of talks with Monroe, according to sources.

"I'm very optimistic," Harbaugh said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "To my knowledge, both of those guys really want to be here and we really want them here. That's a good formula for working things out."

The Ravens could use the franchise tag to hold onto Pitta, but that's a potentially risky move because it's unclear if it would cost $6.7 million under the tight end franchise designation or $11.5 million for a wide receiver franchise classification. Pitta is expected to file a grievance to get the receiver franchise tag figure if he's franchised, according to a source.

Harbaugh didn't rule out the possibility of Pitta not being franchised and hitting the open market in free agency on March 11.

"I think every scenario is possible here," Harbaugh said. "The franchise tag is very vague right now, so anything could happen.”

With the salary cap projected now to rise to $130 million instead of $126.3 million, Harbaugh didn't close the door on possibly keeping both Monroe and right tackle Michael Oher.

"I think there's a way, it just depends on the numbers," Harbaugh said. "It all comes down to the math. We've got more salary-cap space. So, that makes it a little brighter situation. As a coach, I would love to see that happen."

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones is expected to be in heavy demand as a free agent and could be too expensive for the Ravens to keep.

Jones recorded a career-high 53 tackles last season along with four sacks.

"He has definitely put himself in a position that teams could definitely bid on him very high because if you put the tape on, they’re going to like him a lot," Harbaugh said. "He’s a football player. So how it pans out, what the numbers actually are, it remains to be seen, but he’s earned that. I’m always happy when guys have an opportunity on our team. As a coach, you feel a certain sense of reward when players accomplish that because it’s a big deal.

"It’s probably the one contract that he’ll have a chance to sign, a real big one. Guys that sign two big contracts, that’s very unusual. Three almost never happens, so you never feel bad about a guy getting an opportunity. You never want to lose a good player. But from a personal standpoint, you have to feel good about that. Whether we can match that or not, that’s all in the math.”

awilson@baltsun.com
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