By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
11:14 AM EST, February 23, 2014
The Ravens continue to engage in contract talks with tight end Dennis Pitta and have made him a major negotiating priority as they urgently try to lock up the pending unrestricted free agent, according to league sources.
No deal is imminent, though, as negotiations remain active, according to a source.
Pitta's representatives met with Ravens vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty on Saturday at the NFL scouting combine, per a source.
When reached for comment, Pitta's agent, Justin Schulman, declined to comment on negotiations.
The Ravens are facing a March 3 NFL deadline on whether to designate Pitta as their franchise player. If they're unable to reach a compromise for a long-term contract by the deadline, NFL sources said they expect the Ravens to use the franchise tag to keep Pitta off the free-agent market.
The franchise tag, as noted Friday by coach John Harbaugh, is a complicated situation, given the uncertain nature of how much tagging Pitta would actually cost.
Pitta is expected to file a grievance through the NFL Players Association that would be heard by an NFL arbitrator, according to a source, if he's assigned the tight end franchise tag of $6.9 million if the cap rises to $130 million. Pitta played over 70 percent of his snaps in four games last season lined up outside in the slot. The wide receiver franchise tag is at least $11.5 million, depending on the final salary cap limit.
Pitta, 28, caught 20 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown in four games after returning from surgery to repair a dislocated, fractured right hip suffered in training camp. The former Brigham Young standout has caught 122 career passes for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns in four NFL seasons, emerging as one of quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite targets.
Harbaugh didn't rule out the possibility of Pitta not being franchised and hitting the open market in free agency March 11.
"I think every scenario is possible here," Harbaugh said. "The franchise tag is very vague right now, so anything could happen.”
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