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Dennis Pitta should be paid a tight end's salary

The Ravens and Dennis Pitta are still far from reaching a new contract, but hopefully they aren't haggling over whether Pitta should get paid as a wide receiver or a tight end.

It's the trend these days, because tight ends get moved around the field, especially in the slot, so they want to get paid receiver money.

If that's the case with Pitta, then the Ravens should remind him he got drafted as a tight end, gets introduced as a tight end, is as big and slow as a tight end and plays tight end.

End of conversation.

Within a week or two, maybe sooner, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome will offer Pitta a more reasonable four- or five-year deal, and he deserves a big pay day. If he takes it, great. If he doesn't, then too bad; Pitta can hit the free-agent market.

If the Ravens designate Pitta their franchise player, there is a great chance he will file a grievance with the NFL Players Association. The case would be heard by an arbitrator, and if he is granted tight end status, he would be paid $6.9 million next season, but at least $11.5 million if he is declared a slot or outside receiver.

The Ravens really don't need this hassle. Pitta took 79.7 percent of his snaps in the slot last year, but that is all part of the evolution of the tight end position.

It's really nothing new. It's used to create space and take advantage of mismatches. The Ravens can also argue that if Pitta was a better blocker, he could have been used more as a traditional tight end near the line of scrimmage.

But if Pitta is going to cause salary cap problems or break the bank, then it's time for the Ravens to let him become an unrestricted free agent. After all, he is 28, not 24 or 25.

He is a good player, a weapon inside the red zone and quarterback Joe Flacco's security blanket, but he doesn't block well and isn't a legitimate deep threat. Plus, the Ravens will have the option of selecting a quality tight end in the first round of the NFL draft.

Not looking good

Newsome doesn't speak much, but it was stunning when he said the video of running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from an elevator at an Atlantic City casino "didn't look good."

He had to be deeply troubled to say that. Newsome went on to say he felt good about Rice's side of the story and he was encouraged by what Rice has done since the incident to make sure he will never put himself in that situation again.

But those words — "didn't look good" — stay lodged in the back of your head like a nagging headache.

Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, were charged with simple assault-domestic violence after a physical altercation at Revel Casino two weekends ago.

Thompson takes step back

First there was Rice, and now there is wide receiver Deonte Thompson.

The offseason isn't two months old, but the Ravens had another player arrested when Thompson was arrested on charges of suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia Friday night.

The Ravens have one of the best organizations in the NFL, but it looks bad when the team has two incidents within a week. Like Rice, the Ravens will let the Thompson arrest play out in the courts, but Thompson may have seen his last days as a Raven.

Team officials had high hopes for him before last season started, but he fizzled with only 10 catches for 96 yards and zero touchdowns, and he was inactive in the final six games.

Instead of stepping up, he stepped backward.

Ravens need offensive player in draft

I don't really care if the Ravens take an offensive linemen, tight end or wide receiver in the first round of the draft, just as long as they select an offensive player.

In the past, the Ravens have always talked about taking the "best player available," but this might be one of those years when you stretch if necessary to fill holes. The Ravens should be able to find key replacements with the first two picks. .

The Ravens' recent drafts haven't been as stout as usual, but they must be doing something right, as they've gone to the playoffs in five of the past six years.

Ravens need Monroe

The Ravens and left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe aren't close to a deal, but Monroe continues to work out and impress the coaching staff.

The assumption here is that the Ravens will eventually sign Monroe and move left guard Kelechi Osemele back to right tackle. If the Ravens draft a left guard and right guard Marshal Yanda completely recovers from shoulder surgery, the Ravens have upgraded.

Tough road for McClain

The Ravens won't admit it, but inside linebacker Jameel McClain probably has already been asked to take a pay cut. McClain has a $3.2 million base salary for 2014 and is expected to count $4.4 million against the salary cap. At the end-of-the-season press conference, the Ravens suggested they wanted to get younger, which probably means second-year inside linebacker Arthur Brown starts opposite of Daryl Smith if the Ravens can retain Smith.

McClain has a tough battle ahead.

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